An Animal Roars Again: The Eric Burdon Interview, Part 2
In Part 2 of Rocks Off's interview with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Eric Burdon, he talks about a surprise call from Bruce Springsteen at last year's SXSW, how he feels about ever reuniting with The Animals and War, and how he braved a post-hurricane Houston to score some pot.
Photos courtesy of www.ericburdon.com
Rocks Off: You are playing SXSW in Austin again this year. My favorite story from last year was when keynote speaker Bruce Springsteen namechecks both you and the Animals' song "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" -- not knowing you were in town -- and then you end up performing it with him later that night.
Eric Burdon: I was so physically sick, I had no idea what I was doing there. I was out of it completely and ready to jump on a plane after I did this little gig with my band and recorded a radio session.
Then I got a call from Bruce, who had obviously heard something, and he said, "Are you here?" And I said "What? California?" And he said "No, I'm in Texas, just up the street from you. Do you want to get onstage tonight?"
I didn't hear the keynote speech until later, and found it really funny. He had real insight into what I was like back then when he saw the Animals on TV. But I agree with 100% of what he said! (laughs)
[Note: Springsteen denoted "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" as "every song I've ever written. Yeah. That's all of them. I'm not kidding, either. That's "Born to Run," "Born in the USA," everything I've done for the past 40 years."
In describing Burdon, he said "When you saw Eric Burdon, he was like your shrunken daddy with a wig on. He never had a kid's face. He always had a little man's face... They put him in a suit, but it was like putting a gorilla in a suit. You could tell he -- fuck that shit, man, he didn't want it, you know? And then he had that voice that was, like, I don't know, Howlin' Wolf, or something coming out of some 17 or 18-year-old kid."]
RO: I've always found it fascinating that you and all these teens in England who were in all those bands had a better appreciation for American blues and R&B music than American teens did and in fact, put your own twist on it and sold it right back.
EB: That's true. I've always felt that we put our hand into the garbage bin, the cultural trash bin, and pulled it out. And I ran into a lot of those performers in my travels to France and Sweden because they couldn't get a cabaret card in New York to work! And there wasn't the same appreciation for those performers in their homeland as there was in Europe.
RO: I know you are now working on your third autobiography [after I Used to Be an Animal, But I'm All Right Now and Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood] that's more about people you've met and experiences you've had rather than a straight biography.
EB: I'm about halfway through it and I've got a publisher, and a team that wants me to get it done as quickly as possible.