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The Animals' Eric Burdon on being one of the first punks


The Animals were a British rhythm and blues band that were active throughout the 1960s and broke similar ground to The Beatles. You likely know them from their rendition of ‘House of the Rising Sun’, and their other songs like ‘We Gotta Get out of This Place’ and ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’.

Even though they might not be considered a “punk” band by its standard definition, the classic vision of a brightly coloured mohawk hardly bears any resemblance to the genre’s official roots. In truth, there is quite a bit of crossover between the punk spirit and the experience of performers in the bristling 1960s—ending up with their name because of how wild their stage act was. Although this ultimately ended up being a rumour, the fact that people believed it says something.

However, even the vocalist Eric Burdon has something to say about his – and therefore, The Animals’ – relationship to punk: “I’ve always viewed myself as a punk. The Animals could have evolved that way. We had the energy and the anger, but we didn’t stick together. When the punk scene became commercial, I was all for the politics of the movement, but the music didn’t really stand up and ultimately, it was self destructive.”

Although there are likely plenty of places you can hear that anger and energy in their sound, we can likely trust what Burdon said in that plenty of it was likely kept under wraps. It would have been exciting to see them go in that direction, especially considering their place in the music industry as the punk era approached the ’70s. 

However, if what he said is true, that he never had much of an affinity for the music itself, then perhaps the punk identity in itself wasn’t for The Animals. Although the punk sound is a seemingly easy one to reproduce, it admittedly takes a certain level of dedication to remain committed to the aggressive sound. There are plenty of musicians and artists that love the punk identity and political leanings without embarking on the sound, and that’s totally fine, too.

Burdon has a unique voice, too, and one that’s particularly suited to a blues sound that The Animals routinely capture in their music. Sonically, it seems that they kept things exactly where they wanted to be, even if Burdon found himself inspired by the punk spirit every once in a while.

If you want to see whether The Animals sound like they might lean towards the punk sound, you can refresh yourself down below and take a listen to their music.