WHEN THAT lovable Animal Eric Burdon invited RAVE reporter Maureen O’Grady round to his place the result was an out-of-this-world exclusive to RAVE! Eric Burdon’s fabulous flat revealed an insight into his own way-out character through a weird assortment of decorations… a quiet rebellion seemed to be looming with guns, swords, helmets and flags everywhere!
What does an Animal do to relax off duty? How does all the war machinery Eric lives with affect the way he thinks and feels ?
RAVE found out… and reveals all!!
WE DIDN’T know which bell to ring — so we aimed for the most likely — the one without a name on it. At last we were going to see the inside of Eric Burdon’s famous, “crazy” much-talked-about Earls Court flat! A voice boomed out over the intercom, “Hello, who is it?” “RAVE! Is that Eric?” “No, it’s Hilton. I’m in the bath. Go away!”
The idea that Hilton may have meant that remark, soon disappeared as he opened the door. “Eric’s just getting some practice,” he murmured. We got the idea as we just dodged a flying bullet — aimed at a chalk dog poised on a pedestal outside an open window! Eric stopped shooting. “Won’t be a minute. I’ll just go and shave,” he said. Hilton ushered us into the lounge where one of Eric’s many Ray Charles L.P’s. were playing. Suddenly a loud voice split the intimate mood. “Oh, no!”
“There’s been a disaster folks!” Eric said, running in clutching his face. “I’ve cut myself shaving,” and immediately started to mop up the blood with a handkerchief.
Minutes later he was back.
“Hey, you haven’t seen my room yet, have you?” He tugged at our arms and pulled us through a cream-painted doorway. It was like taking a walk into a sort of collector’s showroom. Going through that doorway was like stepping into another world — the crazy, private world of Eric Burdon. On the wall above his tiny bed hung posters, flags, swords of all sizes and origins, revolvers, rifles, war helmets, a magazine of bullets, and a shortie kimono draped over his wardrobe door! These are the things that give off duty Eric Burdon the most pleasure. Another wall opposite was covered in pictures with self-made captions. Pictures of coloured singers, pin-up girls and dead bodies! Captions like: “For colds and flu, doctors recommend sudden death!”
We’d hardly said, “Show us some of your swords and guns closely then,” when he’d taken out an American combat jacket from the wardrobe, put on a Second World War American serviceman’s helmet, grabbed a rifle and jumped out on to the tiny roof garden just as a plane was flying overhead. After Eric had taken a few shots at the plane, a very shocked woman next door stuck her head out of the window and wanted to know what was happening. Eric appeared from behind a clothes line and shouted, “Don’t worry madam! I’ve got everything under control! We won’t let the Russians invade!” which made her look even more alarmed; he dashed across the high ledges and under another line of washing.
“Hey, wait a minute, I’ve got a great idea!”
Back he came, five seconds later. The bloodstained handkerchief tied round his head, brandishing a huge Japanese sword and screaming out “Banzi!” — the Japanese war cry! After ten minutes of that, then posing as a just-about-to-be-shot P.O.W., it was back to his bedroom for another change.
Hilton, meanwhile, quite used to Eric and his mad moments, was busy having a fry-up in the kitchen.
Back into the lounge (one corner of it loaded with suitcases and guitar cases) a sideboard and table were littered with reams of pages of notes, photos and drawings — and a tape recorder. (Apparently loaned by Twinkle). All these piles of seeming litter turned out to be the makings of a book Eric is putting together, which he hopes to publish next year.
“The book’s about everything that enters my head. It started off as a series of scrapbooks I’ve collected over the years. Show business as I see it, my life in the business. It’s also about my great friends, Zoot Money and Chris Farlowe, the greatest singers in Britain! It’s about places like the Flamingo, a pub called The Ship, and people like Carl Perkins and George Harrison.”
The book also gives Eric’s strong views on racial discrimination. He gets on well with coloured people, he reckons they have as much right to anything as anyone else.
Time came for Eric to move again. He had plans for a drink in one of his favourite Earls Court pubs and then a meal in an Indian restaurant. He’d order something like curry and chips if he felt like it!
Off he jumped into his dark green T.R.4, plus dark glasses, probably to end his day at about 4 in the morning, singing for his own pleasure in one of the London clubs with his friends. As he went away singing we caught the last words of ‘We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place’. And for us, it was the end to a perfect day.
© Maureen O’Grady, Rave, November 1965