With a voice superbly suited for rock 'n' roll, Eric Burdon's career spans the years from 1962 to today — always forging new territory, exploring new sounds and topping music charts at home and abroad.
Immersed in American blues and jazz when he stepped in as frontman for The Animals in the coal-mining town of Newcastle, England, Burdon and the band set the standard for others to follow. The group played a mix of electric blues and rock and were one of the forerunners of the British Invasion, right along with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks and others.
Burdon could be heard belting out lyrics to "The House of the Rising Sun," "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," "Bring It On Home to Me," "See See Rider" and other songs around the globe. Later in the '60s, after a more psychedelic iteration of the band's members and a slot at the 1967 Monterrey Pop Festival, the hits included "San Franciscan Nights," the grunge-heavy "When I Was Young," "Monterrey," "Sky Pilot" and "We Gotta Get Out of This Place."
In the early '70s, Burdon began performing live shows with funk group War throughout Southern California. Their debut studio album, Eric Burdon Declares "War," launched the band's career with its groundbreaking hit single "Spill the Wine." He left War after a couple of years and set out on a solo career.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and his wild, new band of Animals will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 17, at the Britt Pavilion, 350 S. First St., Jacksonville. The Weight — with members of The Band and The Levon Helm Band — will open the show. Tickets are $36 for lawn seating, $26 for ages 12 and younger, $59 for reserved seating, $124 for premium blanket seating for two, $248 for premium blanket seating for four, and can be purchased online at brittfest.org, at the box office, 216 W. Main St., Medford, or by calling 541-773-6077.
A prolific artist, Burdon has released nearly 50 records throughout his life performing with The Animals, War and simply as Eric Burdon. Throughout the changing sounds and genres, what remains constant is his drive to explore new music and dive into new challenges. Burdon joined Cincinnati garage rockers the Greenhornes in 2012 on its 17-minute EP of raw and blasting rock, along with some haunting blues that Burdon has always done so well. He followed that with his acclaimed, full-length "'Til Your River Runs Dry" on ABKCO Records in 2013.
About halfway through a tour earlier this year, longtime keyboard player Red Young announced he was ready to retire from the road. Since retirement is not a concept familiar to Burdon, he had to put together a new band — and the new musicians did not disappoint.
The newest version of The Animals includes Johnzo West on guitar, Davey Allen on piano, Junstin Andres on bass, drummer Dustin Koester, sax player Ruben Salinas and trombone player Evan Mackey.
Burdon and his new band of Animals will play a set of material at the Britt show that mixes the early band's favorites, contemporary classics from Burdon's more recent work, and explorations of covers the rock singer has always wanted to try. Also look for a tribute to the late David Bowie — a medley of the fellow English singer's "Space Oddity" and Burdon's "Sky Pilot."
Burdon turned 75 May 11, an event marked by acknowledgements from Ringo Starr — "Peace and love to you, brother," along with Sting, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and a shower of others.