Monday, May 09, 2011

Music Monday ~ ERIC BURDON of The Animals, 70 this week.

This week sees Eric Burdon's 70th birthday. He was born on 11 May 1941, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK. He's a War Baby (me too.) He now lives in California, he says the very dry climate there helps his asthma.

I can't, with hand on heart, profess to having been a fan of his, or of his band, The Animals, back in the 1960s and 70s. I was familiar with their biggest hits - anyone who listened to the radio in the mornings before heading out to work couldn't miss them: House of the Rising Sun, Tobacco Road, Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, Don't Bring Me Down.....etc.

Regarding Don't Bring Me Down, written by Carol King and Gerry Goffin, in an interview Burdon surprisingly admitted:

I didn't realize that it was a Goffin, King song until I was in a doctor's office in Beverly Hills and Ms. King came in and sat next to me. I didn't know it was her, I was just reading a magazine and she turned to me and said, "You know, I hated what you did to my song." I didn't know what to say, so all I said was, "well, sorry." and then as she got up to go into the doctor's office, she turned around and said, "but I got used to it."
How a performer can possibly sing a song in public without finding out who wrote it seems very odd to me!

The Animals, 1964.

Burdon with the band WAR 1969.

Burdon aimed for a blues-oriented sound, rather darker and less pop-friendly than that of The Beatles, The Kinks and others of that so-called British Invasion. From a few videos at YouTube it's clear that his style, as he has matured, reflects his interest in jazz. He claims that a love of blues and jazz stems from listening in his youth to American records brought for him, from the USA by a neighbour of his who was a merchant seaman.

He has continued to sing, tour and record through the decades, 1960s to the present, solo or fronting a variety of bands. Though he retains a loyal brigade of fans, he has never managed to match his early successes. Few who survived the 1960s have managed to do so - even icons like McCartney. I bet Lennon would still be making himself felt though.

Speaking of Lennon, another War Baby, brings to mind anti-war songs. I wondered how Burdon feels about war, and peace, and politics, so read through a few interviews. Just last month, when asked about what inspires him he replied:
I draw inspiration from everything around me. For instance, at this very moment, I’m drawing inspiration from the revolution that is happening. Finally, the word revolution means something again.

And in an interview last year, when asked about his hopes for world peace:
Peace of mind is, for sure, a possibility and I am a long way from that. I found in my life, which is just a drop in a large pool of humanity, that the democratic system enemy in order to ‘keep order.’ I was born in a world at war…It hasn’t changed…but for me, I’ve survived without encountering personally very much violence. Not that I haven’t been a witness to violence. So, where does that leave me? Believing everything is an illusion. Does this mean I’m deluded or just lucky? I know where to find it; I know how to avoid it. To be able to debate peace is probably as close as we can get in today’s world. Every “ism” in the world needs an enemy to exist. The need to argue this is an imperative. More civilians are killed today than combatants. I survived the war and somehow managed to survive the peace. Two of my closest friends did not.”

It's a pity Burdon hasn't written more songs on this theme. His Sky Pilot is the only one I can find. ~ Link to video SKY PILOT


Wow! He has a whole lot of Taurus goin' on! Six planets between 18 and 26 degrees of Taurus! Moon opposing some of them from Scorpio, depending on his exact time of birth. Unless he was born after 10 PM Moon would be mid to late Scorpio, if later than 10PM, Moon would be in the first degrees of Sagittarius.

UPDATECommenter Louise (see below) has kindly let me know that Astrodatabank has a time of birth for Eric Burdon: 12 midnight. See Astrodatabank page and chart:,_Eric. This birth time gives Moon at 15 Scorpio and Sagittarius rising - Sagittarius brings in a welcome Mutable sign to balance his Fixedness.

So - is he a poster-boy for Taurus, I wonder? Stubborn to the nth degree? That we cannot know, but I'd bet on it. Earthy, gritty - from his music style, definitely!
Venus, planet of the arts, including music, is ruler of Taurus, and Venus sits in the midst of that stellium (cluster of planets). Anyone with this much Taurus in their chart would simply have to be involved in, or at least inspired by, and interested in, one of the arts - painting, dance, music, writing.

Taurus is alleged to connect to love of possessions and property. From what I've read about Burdon this isn't too good a fit, but I don't know enough to be sure.

The only personal planet, other than Moon, not in Taurus is Mars in Aquarius....and it's squaring (challenging) that huge stellium of Taurus planets, as well as his Moon, forming what astrologers term a T-Square. This reflects a constant state of tension, and here, because the signs involved are Fixed signs, excessive obstinacy - a person unlikely to let things go, one who would never give up but keep fighting whatever the dispute. In this chart the T-Square seems extra potent because of the large number of planets involved at one point - the Taurus point.

There's one very good harmonious aspect as well, a trine linking Neptune in Virgo to that Taurus stellium - Neptune represents, among other things, creativity.

Sun and Uranus (planet of the rebel)are conjoined within the Taurus stellium, and square to Mars in the sign ruled by Uranus : Aquarius. This link, though between Fixed signs, tends to lend a looser, more free and open-minded feel. Had Uranus and Mars been elsewhere, I suspect Eric Burdon might not have coped so well, and for so long, with the vagaries and challenges of a music star's life.

Tobacco Road from the 1960s

Embedding is disabled on most videos of recent performances - here's a link to a good live 2006 version of him with House of the Rising Sun:

House of the Rising Sun 2006


Vanilla Rose said...

I suppose I count as a War Baby too ... if you count Vietnam. Okay, it wasn't happening anywhere near me, for which I am grateful. One of my Mum's friends adopted 2 Vietnamese children in the early 70s.

This excellent post comes at the wrong time for me, as I am planning to buy an MP3 type techno-thingummy and am trying to come up with more songs by female singers (or songwriters) for the sake of balance. You have just reminded me of "The House of the Rising Sun" and "We've Gotta Get out of This Place", so adding to the male singer(s) category! Never mind! ;)

Twilight said...

Vanilla Rose ~~ Hi!

Your mention of female singer and House of the Rising Sun in the same breath immediately reminded me of one of American Idol's final 4: Haley Reinhart's version of the song. She sang it last week - great version, I thought.

Don't know if this link will work in the UK - sometimes Idol ones are limited to USA - but here's a link to try:

Anonymous said...

OMG... He was performing at a nightclub I was working at and I decorated the cake for his 40th birthday celebration. I can't believe that was 30 years ago the 11th... I feel ancient.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~~~LOL! I know that ancient feeling well!

It seems like only yesterday that I was rushing off to work, bag in one hand piece of toast in the other, singing to myself:

Oh mother tell your children
Not to do what I have done
Spend your lives in sin and misery
In the House of the Rising Sun


Wisewebwoman said...

Gee I do like this guy, I don't know how all of a sudden he's become 50 years older than me.
As to "House" it was originally a woman's song, did you know that piece of trivia, T?

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ I didn't! I knew the song was old though, not written in the '60s. Now you come to mention it, the words do seem much more appropriate to a female. :-)

Louise said...

Astrodatabank gives him a time:

Frank C. Clifford quotes Jenni Harte from Burdon, "midnight of May 10/11." (Quoted BC/BR)

It gives him Sagittarius rising, and Moon at 15 Scorpio, with all those Taurus planets in the 5th (aptly) using Placidus.

I always loved 'Tobacco Road', but the Dave Lee Roth version - this is the first time I've heard the original. I love it! Oddly, my birthday is 10th May, but I only have Sun, Moon and Mercury there :)

The Next President of the United States said...

Unfortunately, the history of the 20th and 21st centuries makes us all "War Babies," doesn't it? But that's not why I'm jotting this note.

You hit me with Eric Burdon. During that British Invasion y'all launched at unwitting American young'uns in the '60s, The Animals were one of my favs. During my "angry young man" period (which lasted from age 9 to, oh, about age 49) "It's My Life" was one of my personal theme songs!!

Loved the work Eric did with War, although it was too brief, and he put out a couple really tasty solo albums in the late 70s and early 80s.

Unfortunately, that memorable voice has betrayed him in the last decade or so. But he had some great moments and is a pivotal player in rock 'n' roll.

Twilight said...

LOUISE left this post on thursday when blogger went down. I've retrieved it from my e-mail notification:

Louise has left a new comment on your post "Music Monday ~ ERIC BURDON of The Animals, 70 this...":

Astrodatabank gives him a time:

Frank C. Clifford quotes Jenni Harte from Burdon, "midnight of May 10/11." (Quoted BC/BR)

It gives him Sagittarius rising, and Moon at 15 Scorpio, with all those Taurus planets in the 5th (aptly) using Placidus.

I always loved 'Tobacco Road', but the Dave Lee Roth version - this is the first time I've heard the original. I love it! Oddly, my birthday is 10th May, but I only have Sun, Moon and Mercury there :)

My reply:
Thank you for that info Louise - I usually do check Astrodatbank for times of birth - must have missed doing so in this case.

Sag. ascendant will loosen up all that Fixedness in his chart - quite a good thing I reckon!

I'll update the post with a link to AstroDB.

Twilight said...

Louise ~~~ just tried to update post but Blogger is still having hiccups it seems - wouldn't allow me to post an update there. Will do so asap. :-)

Twilight said...

TNPOTUS ~~~ Hi there! Thanks for your thoughts on this.

I hadn't thought of the term War Baby in quite that way - but have to say that you're right. When hasn't there been a war? For strict generational purposes (which I don't really approve of)true War Babies were born from 1939 to 1945. :-)

Eric's voice doesn't seem too bad in the 2006 video, I thought - better than some of his peers' voices anyway. But it (and he) have changed from his heyday, as you say TNPOTUS. Jazz, or jazzy influence seems to be their saving grace as they age. ;-)

The Next President of the United States said...

I may be too hard on Eric. A few years ago, I was thinking about bringing him to the concert series and went searching through some videos from '07 and '08. In many of them, his voice was cracking on notes he normally would have reached with no strain. The trademark "growl" was over-accentuated as well. But maybe he was just going through a voice change period. And as you said, that voice has held up better than some of his peers.

I do understand the War Babies reference. Every time I hear it, makes me think of these lines from a Van Morrison song on the '73 album Hard Nose The Highway:
We were the War Children
born 1945
when all the soldiers came marching home
love looks in their eye.

Twilight said...

TNPOTUS ~~ I'm listening to a CD of Joe Cocker as I type - one of two I bought for a dollar or so on ebay. He's suddenly started to appeal to me after years of me thinking - "meh!"

He was born 1944 - so just within the War Baby span. These are from 1996 and 2004, so not up to date. He sounds good on these though. Not sure how he sounds 2011.

I always think of War Babies as those who remember from the stock of earliest memories, something about WW2 - bombs falling, seeing friends or relatives suddenly disappear - along with their houses, sirens, soldiers, American forces throwing them chewing gum from the back of transport trucks, or bringing coveted nylon stockings to get around a certain gal who caught an American serviceman's fancy.

I remember all but the last as I was too young to wear nylons. ;-)

Louise said...

Hello Twilight,
The internet does seem to have been rather pesky the last few days or so - we lost our connection for a while yesterday (here in the UK).
Thanks for taking the time to transfer your notification of my post :)
Sagittarius rising would probably also be a help coping with the uncertainties of life as a musician. I wonder how often that line-up in Taurus occurs?! It reminds me of Eddie Izzard (UK comedian) who was born with an equally massive line-up in Aquarius (7 Feb 1962, 7.30pm, Aden, Yemen).

Twilight said...

Louise ~ I've managed to insert a rather ragged update into the post now (was afraid at any moment the lot would go down and be for ever lost!)

Yes, I thought about those multiple Aquarius charts that were around in the winter of 1962, Garth Brooks and Clint Black, Eddie Izzard as you mentioned - and Sheryl Crow all had big clusters of Aquarius planets.

It'd be an interesting study to look for individuals with 5 or more planets in one sign - any sign. Maybe Astrodatabank has done this - but it's probably necessary to have their paid membership to access such data.

Thanks again. :-)

The Next President of the United States said...

In my 'umble opin, Joe Cocker, along with Gregg Allman and Frankie Miller - another of you Brits - are the best while male blues singers of all. Although, as his new album reveals, Michael Grimm, the young fellow we saw in Branson with Righteous Brother Bill Medley and the winner of last year's America's Got Talent contest, is catching up on those three. He has a remarkable, memorable blues-soul voice for a white cat! Sorry to break it down racially, but there is a slight difference when a great black blues singer sings.

Twilight said...

TNPOTUS ~~~ Oh yes, I remember Michael Grimm on AGT. Enjoyed him then. I'll look for his album, see if it sounds like my cup o' tea.

Re the racial/ethnic angle, I guess black blues singers have a deal more to be blue about in their lives and backgrounds than most white, and especially white English singers of that genre. which makes it all the more surprising that a Yorkie like Joe, and t'others, can be so darn good.