Eric Burdon is the former lead singer of The Animals and War. With the Animals he sang on major hits such as "The House of the Rising Sun, We Got to get out of This Place, Don't let me be Misunderstood" and more. Eric joined the band War and produced a very popular song "Spill the Wine". Jimi Hendrix had his last live performance with Eric and War. Eric is still very active writing and performing music.
R.V.B. - Where did you grow up and what kind of music were you exposed to at an early age?
E.B. - I grew up in Newcastle, mostly hearing the popular music of the day and Jazz from an early age until I was exposed to imported 45 American Blues and Rock and Roll. My first long player was Joe Turner's Boss of the blues on Atlantic records.
R.V.B. - When did you start playing music? What was first few instruments? Who were your influences? The Blues?
E.B. - I started playing trombone however, my instrument has always been my voice.I am and always have been a vocalist. They say I came out of the womb shouting the blues.
I started singing when I was a child. I was kicked out of my school choir for having too loud of a voice. When I first heard Muddy Waters live in my hometown during a soundcheck, I knew that was the direction I wanted to take.
R.V.B. - When and where was first few gigs?
E.B. - I started by singing with a local jazz group (View Care) in Newcastle as a teenager.
R.V.B. - How did you get your first big break?
E.B. - Doing TV appearances and performing locally. When the Animals got chosen to open for Chuck Berry while he was touring the UK, we snuck-off to a studio to record "House of the Rising Sun." The rest, as they say, is history.
R.V.B. - You put on very dynamic stage performances, Did this just come naturally?
E.B. - Thank you. What I do on stage is natural. I just sing the songs with honest emotion. If that comes across as dynamic, I'm happy to hear that. I just do my best to sing from my heart.
R.V.B. - What songs that you recorded and performed are you most proud of?
E.B. - "Don't Bring Me Down". Still feels fresh and cutting edge to me. Of course, "House of the Rising Sun" is a hugely influential and widely revered. "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" is a favorite among the guys who served in Vietnam, so it remains close to my heart. Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" for connecting me with Nina Simone and for all the Bo Diddley songs I've done since the beginning. But truly, I'm most proud of the new album, 'Til our River Runs Dry. Who would have thought that after 50 years I would come up with an album that was so widely praised. I'm truly grateful to still be doing the work that I love.
R.V.B. - Did you enjoy playing with the band War? And was it a breath of fresh air writing the material with them.
E.B. - It was exciting to work with a multi-ethnic band from L.A. We created a new hybrid of soul, funk, R&B and explore the possibilities of combining spoken word poetry with Latin rhythms. It was a new idea when we did it and I think it had some influence on popular music.
R.V.B. - Who are some of the other famous people that you had the pleasure of playing, jamming or recording with?
E.B. - Jimi Hendrix, a friend who I still miss to this day. Being on stage with him was always an electrifying experience. I've played with Jimmy Witherspoon, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Otis Redding, Chris Barber, Chuck Berry, Elvis's band (Bill Black, DJ Fontana), Bruce Springsteen, Andy Summers, Brian Auger and many other great artists.
R.V.B. - I understand you played with Jimi Hendrix. How was that experience? No pun intended
E.B. - Jimi Hendrix and I were close friends and we jammed together a few times, as well as the very last time, the night that he died. Obviously, that was a very dark time in my life. I loved singing with him. He was the greatest guitar player to inhabit human form but he was an alien, a meteor passing through this atmosphere.
R.V.B. - What are some of your favorite performances that you had in your career?
E.B. - Monterey Pop Festival has to stand out as one of the high points. It was so fresh, so exciting, and so full of promise for the young generation of artists and listeners. We were all one force at that moment. I shared the stage with friends such a Jimi Hendrix, who was making his American debut. It was the coming together of our generation in the spirit of peace and creativity. Paris Olympia. From the first Animals performance to my recent return there this past November. San Sebastian festival. The Apollo Theater in Harlem NY with the Animals.
R.V.B. - What are your current plans? Any records coming out? Are you touring?
E.B. - I'm always working. I am touring constantly, so I always look forward to some time at home. When at home, I am writing my memoirs and working on new songs. I have a new limited edition single I recorded in New Orleans for my return at the Olympia Paris. The two featured tracks are No Regrets and Shame Shame Shame, a homage to the great Édith Piaf.
R.V.B. - What is in your CD player right now?
E.B. - Get Up (Ben Harper) Alabama Shakes, Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise; Eric Bibb; Buddy Guy; Leonard Cohen; Bruce Springsteen; but my jukebox is stocked with all the 45's I've always loved, from Ray Charles to James Brown, Chuck Berry, Little Richard.
R.V.B. - What do you like to do when you are not playing music?
E.B. - I'm an avid reader and film buff. I love time spent with my wife and a few close friends, a good meal, a crackling fireplace, a good glass of wine, and a nice walk in nature.
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz.
Please visit Eric Burdon's website www. ericburdon.com and check out his latest album 'Til Your River Runs Dry. Photo copywrite by Mariana Burdon.
Interview Conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
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