SPEAKING this week to Eric Burdon, that well-known “Freak-about-town” (since “Freak-out” music is having a considerable influence on our Animal), he revealed to me that only three of his present new Animals are likely to remain in the group, which he intends to form after the present tour with Georgie Fame.
Due to a severe sore throat, which kept him out of the concert at Southampton last week, Eric sounded like Louis Armstrong talking into a jam jar.
“The three British ‘freaks’ going with me to America in the New Year will be John Weider, Danny McCullough and Barry Jenkins,” rasped Eric.
“23-year-old Danny is a kind of Irish navvy I found digging a hole in the road outside the Scotch of St. James. He was formerly with the ‘McAlpines’ group. He’s sufficiently off his head to fit in with the crowd and does a great impression of Ken Dodd. He’s written a song for ‘Doddy,’ entitled ‘Hello Choochie Face’!
“John Weider is an 18-year-old Cockney character, and he and Danny are working on some new compositions for the group – bluesy based. Weird guy – he dances about all by himself. He goes to the clubs, looks around to see if anyone is watching, then ‘freaks out’ on the floor!
“Barry Jenkins, otherwise known as Polly Perkins, is still with me because he cares about his music in the same way I do.
“My ex-lead guitarist, Hilton Valentine, is now one of the world’s great religious leaders – he only steps down to communicate with us mortals occasionally. At present he’s helping with my management and doing a grand job.
“Before returning to Britain I recorded some material with Frank Zappa, the leader of the Mothers Of Invention, who is regarded as the leading light on the ‘freak-out’ scene out there. I cut one number called ‘Another Side Of Life’, which looks like it might escape in the U.S. shortly.
“Freaking out is connected with the effects produced by the drug LSD in the States and all the groups who play it will tell you that they never touch the stuff – which is rubbish!
“In a wider sense the term ‘freak-out’ means a loosening of your inhibitions – music which sounds as if you don’t give a damn what anyone says about you or does to you. The Americans think they’ve discovered a new attitude, but we’ve had ‘alcoholic-freaks’ in this country for years!
“I don’t think it will catch on as a musical form here because the humour and language used in the lyrics of ‘freak-out’ music are a very in-thing closely tied to the U.S. scene. It’s like taking a ‘Goon Show LP’ to the States and expecting them to understand it. This was why I decided not to release ‘Mama Told Me Not To Come’ as my first single.
“Zappa is a very interesting character – about 28 years old. He makes these weird movies and puts the soundtracks on them himself. He showed me one of a guy picking spots on his leg and another with a sequence taken by an infra-red camera of a guy necking with this typical Hollywood blonde all ‘lip-sticky’ and ‘high heely.’ It’s not meant to be entertaining so much as effective – and that it is!”
On his opening night at the Finsbury Park Astoria, Eric was given a rough time by some hecklers in the audience who objected to his appearance without the old team. How had the other venues been?
“Same treatment,” reported Eric, with typical honesty. “People don’t like changes, and at present I’m supposed to be the villain who broke up the Animals. I didn’t break up anything. WE broke up.
“Also I think there’s some resentment that I’ve been spending so much time in America. The man who deserted Britain, that’s me! Boo boo!
“I go on stage to chants of ‘We want Geno!’ which doesn’t help too much. But that guy’s got a great act.
“As soon as this tour finishes I’m going to get an act together which will set the *?!!?!X stage on fire. At present we’re still working up the musical side.”
As a final message for all the fans Eric announced: “Freaks of the World Unite! Zoot Money is trying to take over and God help America when Jenkins, McCullough and Weider hit them next year!”
© Keith Altham, New Musical Express, 4 November 1966