OF the first run of British beat bands who rose to fame in the wake of The Beatles breaking through in America, none were tougher and more forbidding than The Animals.

In March 1959, drummer John Steel met Alan Price in Newcastle, and along with guitarist Hilton Valentine and bassist Chas Chandler, they formed a band; by 1960, the Alan Price Combo had acquired a reputation in Newcastle. Singer Eric Burdon joined in 1962 from a band called the Pagans, and The Animals were born.

Specialising in performing fiery versions of the staple rhythm-and-blues repertoire, The Animals covered songs by artists such as Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker and Nina Simone, but it was their cover of the traditional folk song House of the Rising Sun that became a Transatlantic number one and changed the course of pop music history.

A succession of hits followed with Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, Bring It on Home to Me and We Gotta Get Out of This Place all becoming classics.

In 1966, Steel left the band but it’s the band’s original drummer who leads The Animals and Friends today and brings them to New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion on June 13 for what is being billed as the band’s farewell tour.

Also joining Steel in the band is keyboardist Mickey Gallagher who briefly joined The Animals in 1965 as a replacement for Price before going on to find fame as a member of Ian Dury and the Blockheads.

Sadly, Valentine passed away last year and, with Burdon living and touring in the US, this is probably the last chance fans will get to hear The Animals live in the UK.

Also appearing as support act and with the band is another ‘60s legend in the form of Zoot Money, whose Big Roll Band were one of the most popular R&B groups of the Soho scene, before becoming psychedelic trailblazers Dantalian’s Chariot, who featured The Police’s Andy Sumners on guitar.

n The Animals and Friends’ Farewell Tour is at the Floral Pavilion on Monday, June 13 (rescheduled from Thursday, March 3, 2021).

Tickets £29.25 from floralpavilion.com