An iconic figure in blues rock, Eric Burdon rose to stardom as the lead singer of the seminal British band, The Animals. With a new album, Til Your River Runs Dry, and prior to his performance April 18 at the Hard Rock Casino and in-store appearance at Neptoon Records on Main Street from 5-6 p.m., Joe Leary spent 24 Seconds with the music legend.
24: Going way back to the early days, there were so many great artists on the British music scene. Was it a competitive time among the groups or was there a great sense of pride and camaraderie?
EB: It was a very co-operative scene. The Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds and Manfred Mann in London; the Beatles, Billy J. Kramer, Gerry and the Pacemakers and the other Mersey Beat bands in Liverpool; Herman’s Hermits and Wayne Fontana in Manchester; The Troggs in Andover. We were all supporters of each other and would trade gigs at our hometown clubs. We didn’t plan on “invading” America but all of us shared a love for American blues, rock and roll and jazz, so we all dreamed of going there someday at least to visit. When the Beatles broke, it opened the floodgates and we all swam with the tide.
24: Prior to landing in North America, were you aware of just how popular you were over here?
EB: We knew that House of the Rising Sun had been well-received in the States, well before our arrival. In fact, it was the first non-Mersey Beat or Beatles-related British single to hit Number One in the U.S., so we had an idea. We’d seen the response to the Beatles and the way they were greeted at JFK airport by screaming girls. Unfortunately, in our case, we were diverted to a smaller airport to avoid such expensive madness.
24: With the frantic nature of the screaming audiences, how did you maintain a focus on performance? Did you thrive on the reaction or was it somewhat of a distraction?
EB: The screaming seemed a bit ridiculous to us. British fans of the blues didn’t behave that way. We were happy that we were getting the attention but we were pretty serious about the music we played and saw all the hysterics as a distracting sideshow.
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