A night featuring classic rock hits and one of the biggest influences of Bruce Springsteen
Long before The Boss ever uttered his immortal cries of escape in “Born to Run,” he was a teenager in Freehold listening to Eric Burdon’s raspy voice and the words “We’ve gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do.” Four decades later, Eric Burdon is still going strong. He will play the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown on Sunday, July 17 with the current incarnation of The Animals. It’s a night that includes The Edgar Winter Band, making it a classic rock show to remember.
Springsteen often spoke of the influence The Animals had on his career. As a keynote speaker at SXSW 2012, he said, “For some they were just one of the really good B groups that came out of the sixties. But, to me, The Animals were a revelation.”
The rest of the music world agreed with him, inducting Eric Burdon & the Animals into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. The Edgar Winter Band may not be in the Hall, but they have been tremendously influential in rock and roll history. In fact, the band’s two biggest hits are still played on hundreds of radio stations every week, over 40 years after they reached the top of the charts. The songs include “Free Ride,” which was a top 15 hit, and “Frankenstein,” which topped the charts in 1973 (knocking Stevie Wonder’s “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” out of the spot in the process) and remains one of the most popular and memorable rock instrumentals of all time.
And neither artist has ever stopped.
Eric Burdon’s last record, “’Til Your River Runs Dry,” was released in 2013. Meanwhile, Edgar Winter’s music can be heard in films like “My Cousin Vinny,” “Duets,” “Wayne’s World 2” and “Wag the Dog” as well as a list of television shows that include “The Simpsons” and “Queer As Folk.” In fact, Edgar found himself in the top 10 for Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles when his song, “Dying to Live” was featured in the film “Tupac Resurrection.” The song included vocals by Edgar Winter along with Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac himself.
I asked a few music writers for their favorites from The Animals and Edgar Winter.
“‘House of the Rising Sun’ is my favorite Animals song because they took a really old, traditional song and rocked it in their very own, irresistible way – especially that growl of Burdon’s on the final chorus,” said Bob Makin, entertainment reporter and Makin Waves columnist for MyCentralJersey.com, a part of USA Today Network. “A lot of the power of that song is due to its Vox organ. Not only was it the first folk-rock song to top the charts, but it also was the first organ-driven rock song to do so.”
That track has special meaning for John Pfeiffer, Contributing Editor for The Aquarian Weekly. “My favorite would have to be ‘House of the Rising Sun,’” explained Pfeiffer. “Just an overall classically composed ballad that has been part of my life since I was a little kid. I remember that song playing when one of my brothers was being born at the hospital. It’s like a piece of family to me. What I find most amusing – as it was one of their biggest hits – is that no one really knows the origins of the song. It’s been covered a million times before and after and we still don’t know the author. So, it has loads of mystery and vibe.”
Ken Shane, the New Music Editor at popdose.com and a freelance writer, is a big fan of sixties rock and roll. “I was definitely an Animals fan,” he said. “There were several British Invasion bands that were trying their hands at American blues, but none were more credible than The Animals. I think the general public can’t help but remember them for their massive hit version of ‘House of the Rising Sun,’ but there was certainly more to them than just one song.”
There definitely was. In fact, the Animals had nearly a dozen hits in their early years. The hits included “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” “It’s My Life,” “I’m Crying,” “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” in addition to “House of the Rising Sun.” Towards the second half of the sixties, the band’s sound became a bit harder and more psychedelic, releasing hits like “San Franciscan Nights,” “When I Was Young” and “Sky Pilot.” Burdon continued to have hits after The Animals initially broke up in 1968. He created the funk group War, which is remembered for songs like “Spill the Wine,” “The Cisco Kid” and “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”
On the other side of the bill, Edgar Winter (along with his brother Johnny) helped inspire a generation of musicians in Texas. Although he is best known for the two hits previously mentioned, Danny Coleman, a music writer and host of the Rock on Radio Show, says, “‘We All Had a Real Good Time’ is my favorite. Now, that’s rock ’n’ roll!”
“‘Frankenstein’ was and still is one of the penultimate rock instrumentals of all time,” continued Coleman. “Edgar’s multi-instrumental talents shine through in a big way on this track and the song is as fresh today as it was decades ago.”
John Pfeiffer says his favorite Edgar Winter song is “Free Ride”: “The combination of parts just makes it the perfect rock and roll song for me. Interesting note: Winter didn’t actually write ‘Free Ride,’ it was written by Dan Hartman who is best known for his recognizable hits, ‘I Can Dream About You’ and ‘Instant Replay.’
Edgar Winter’s two greatest hits are both found on “They Only Come Out at Night,” an album that peaked at #3 but would stay on the charts for 80 weeks. Ironically, Billboard’s Album of the Year in 1973 would go to War led by Eric Burdon. Chances are that might be a topic of conversation on this tour.
If you’re a fan of classic rock or interested in seeing one of the major influences behind Bruce Springsteen, this is a show for you. At SXSW 2012, Springsteen strummed his guitar and sang the lyrics to a song he’s performed live for decades. We got to get out of this place / girl there’s a better life for me and you.
“That’s every song I’ve ever written,” said Springsteen.
Eric Burdon and The Animals and The Edgar Winter Band will perform Sunday, July 17 2016 at 7:30PM at the Mayo Performing Arts Center, 100 South Street, Morristown, NJ 07960. Visit MayoArts.org for tickets and more information.