Eric Burdon and The Animals came together as a new band in late 1966, after The Animals, one of the biggest of the many British bands who became famous during the swinging years of the middle 1960s, had fallen into a situation of discord that resulted in their breakup. When Eric Burdon and The Animals released their first single, “When I Was Young,” in April of 1967, it showed that Eric Burdon, who had been the singer with The Animals from their beginning, was seeking a new direction in his musical style. For the rest of that mind-expanding year and into the next year, Eric Burdon and his band remained in the vanguard of the psychedelic revolution.
The Animals had started out as The Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo, at the Club A’Gogo in Newcastle, England, in the early 1960s. The five musicians (Eric Burdon, Alan Price on keyboards, Hilton Valentine on guitar, Chas Chandler on bass, and John Steel on drums) dedicated themselves to playing blues and jazz, and changed their collective name to The Animals when they moved down to London in 1964. They soon had a worldwide hit, “The House of the Rising Sun,” and were part of the British Invasion that followed The Beatles across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States. (More about The Animals and Alan Price at David's Rock Scrapbook.)
Alan Price left The Animals in 1965, and John Steel departed in 1966. By the end of 1966, after recording a number of hits (“I’m Crying,” “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” “Don’t Bring Me Down”), the band was finished. In early 1967, Eric Burdon moved to California, settling in San Francisco for a time, and then assembled a new lineup, known as Eric Burdon and The Animals, with Vic Briggs on guitar and piano, John Weider on guitar and violin, Danny McCulloch on bass, and Barry Jenkins on drums.
The first single by the new lineup began with a thunderous outcry from an electric guitar, giving way to a sound that was dark and striking. “When I Was Young,” written by Eric Burdon with the band, features the bold tones of John Weider’s violin, along with a forceful drumbeat from Barry Jenkins. The pained voice of Eric Burdon, sometimes wailing with heavy echo, tells a bleak story of lost youth and deep regret. The powerful elements of the track are skillfully combined to convey an overall mood of confusion and desolation. The flip side of the single, “A Girl Named Sandoz,” reflects the degree to which Eric Burdon, in common with The Beatles and other musicians of the 1960s, had happily embraced the hallucinogenic properties of LSD. (Sandoz Laboratories provided the first quantities of lysergic acid diethylamide to the world.)