This song explains that there is a house in New Orleans, called “The Rising Sun” which has been the ruin of many a fine boy. Well, I’m here to tell you that I lived in New Orleans for two years right after this song was on the charts and I traveled the entire city and never found “The Rising Sun”, so this could be a myth.
The British Invasion continues as the second artist besides the Beatles hits number one in the United States. The Animals were a five-man group who got together in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in Northern England about 300 miles north of London in the early Sixties. Two of the members, at least, were born in Newcastle, Eric Burdon, the lead singer and Alan Price, who played keyboards. The other three members were lead guitarist Hilton Valentine, Chas Chandler on bass and John Steel on drums.
Before Eric Burdon joined them they were known as The Pagans. Then they became known as Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo, but it is said that their antics on stage were so wild, that the audience started referring to them as “animals.” The name stuck and soon, they decided to become The Animals. Another version of how they got their name is that Eric and Alan were part of a gang growing up in Newcastle and the leader of that gang was named Animal Hog (sounds like a nice chap.) So, they liked that name and took it for the name of the group.
Their big break came when they cut a demo record and had 500 copies pressed. They passed these out to whoever would take one and this caught the attention of a fellow named Mickie Most who worked for EMI Records in London. He offered them a recording contract and the rest is history.
Eric Burdon had heard “The House of the Rising Sun” when he was very young. The song has been around for years, maybe centuries. It’s one of those songs that no one knows exactly where it started (called “traditional”.) The tune has changed and the words have changed a little, but the song has endured. It was originally called “Rising Sun Blues” and is considered a folk tune. This version by the Animals is called by some the first “folk-rock song.” The oldest known recording of the song was by Appalachian artists Clarence “Tom” Ashley and Gwen Foster who recorded it in 1933. It was recorded in various forms and by many people over the years, even being done by Bob Dylan for his self-titled debut album in 1962. Alan Price worked on it a little to make it the sound the Animals wanted and so got a number one hit both in America and England.
The Animals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
“The House of the Rising Sun” debuted on the pop charts in America on August 15, 1964 and spent three weeks at number one. While The Animals continued to chart until the end of the decade, they never had another number in America,