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The Animals and Newcastle's Club A Go Go

by Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne.

The House Of The Rising Sun wasn't just a major hit, a transatlantic number one in 1964, it was a phenomenon. The Animals may have had regular Top 20 hits for the next couple of years, but ask anyone to name one hit by them and the first thing that pops into their head will be "There is a house in New Orleans..."

Eric Burdon and Brian Matthew

The Animals star talks about his love of rock 'n' rock and the Newcastle music scene

The House Of The Rising Sun wasn't just a major hit, a transatlantic number one in 1964, it was a phenomenon. The Animals may have had regular Top 20 hits for the next couple of years, but ask anyone to name one hit by them and the first thing that pops into their head will be "There is a house in New Orleans..."

House Of The Rising Sun overshadowed the entire Tyneside music scene in the sixties

Not only did it dwarf the Animals' career, meaning terrific hits like Goffin and King's Don't Bring Me Down from 1966 are somewhat overlooked, but House Of The Rising Sun overshadowed the entire Tyneside music scene in the sixties.

The centre of the scene was the Club A Go Go in Newcastle, hymned by the Animals on a song of the same name (which was later sampled by Girls Aloud for their 2005 hit, Biology). One of the first acts to play the Club A Go Go was Alan Price, a keyboard player who had played at the club's local predecessors, the Marimba coffee bar and the Downbeat club by the quayside. By 1963, the Alan Price Combo - soon to be renamed the Animals - became the Club A Go Go's resident band. The walls were black with a mural of a New York skyline. This had been painted by artist David Sweetman, with help from his friend Bryan Ferry.

Ferry's first band The Gas Board were one of the local acts to play the Club A Go Go. They were from the other side of the Tyne, in South Shields, as were the Answers. Led by Tony Hill, later of the Misunderstood, the Answers only released one single - but what a corker! It's Just A Fear sounded like the Yardbirds at double speed with some fantastically clangorous guitar work.


Quite possibly they had seen the Yardbirds playing the Club A Go Go. It didn't have the capacity of Newcastle City Hall, but visiting acts would often visit the club after playing the main venue to play an impromptu set. Names that graced the stage included Jerry Lee Lewis, the Rolling Stones, Captain Beefheart, Geno Washington, Alex Harvey, the Who, John Mayall, Cream, Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix. Bryan Ferry was the DJ on the night Hendrix played, shocking the audience by ramming his guitar into the ceiling above the stage and leaving it there, hanging suspended. The club eventually closed its doors in 1969, some three years after the Animals had split and Eric Burdon had moved to the States.

To this day, Eric Burdon is still recording and touring as a solo artist