Animal Eric Burdon

Animal Eric Burdon

The music I love was created by the sons and daughters of slaves. My life’s work has always been about honoring those people who suffered and thus, created a language of peace and salvation through music. 

Everything we believed in during the ’60s, everything people fought and died for, is being jeopardized today. [Eric Burdon]

May 11…Happy birthday and many more!
Animal Eric Burdon
photo from Eric Burdon site

In 1966, friend Rob who attended Fordham Prep in the Bronx, NY asked me if I’d like to go to a concert there. The Animals were playing.

1964’s British Invasion did far more than introduce the Beatles to the Boomers.  On September 5, 1964 The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” became Billboard’s #1 single. It was likely the first time we’d heard of these Animals (what a great name!).

Sadly, most of us young Americans thought it was the Animals’ song.

Animal Eric Burdon
source: YouTube

We didn’t realize it may have had roots centuries deep–or at least decades deep in our own American history. And as few of us realized (as I assume few radio stations realized) that the song was about a whore house.

Animal Eric Burdon

Eric Burdon

Animal Eric Burdon

In any case, the voice of Eric Burdon became part of the 1960s soundtrack. For me, their Best of the Animals album was my introduction. I didn’t realize that they had produced the album because of personnel changes. I did notice that it seemed every time I bought a new Animal album, there seemed to be a replacement. Eric was there though. That was the main thing.

Animal Eric Burdon

Even the 1967 Eric is Here album with its departure from rock and blues was OK. New way to hear stuff.

Burdon, like any rock musician, could read the Beatle writings on the wall, and when they went psychedelic, he did, too. He made politically-influenced music, well, that was OK, too. And there was that “New York 1963 — America 1968,” an 18-minute l track featuring vocals not by a group member, but a black engineer named Cliff, who recalls his experience as a fighter pilot during World War II.

Patience James. Patience.

Animal Eric Burdon

Drifted apart

Eric and I slowly drifted apart. More because of new responsibilities on my part than any disenchantment.

Eric forged ahead and continues to perform. To list the dozens of albums and songs and groups he’s been with for 50+ years is for Wikipedia or AllMusic.

He and the other original Animals (Chas Chandler, Alan Price , John Steel, and Hilton Valentine) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Eric had a gig in Dusseldorf, Germany. Jancee Dunn in Rolling Stone asked “Artist of principle or crazy man?”

Suffice to say that Eric Burdon is still going, still singing, and we can still enjoy his presence.

Oh, yea. That concert at Fordham. It was pretty good. I think I remember that the Lovin’ Spoonful opened for them.

Animal Eric Burdon
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Bruce Langhorne Tambourine Man

Bruce Langhorne Tambourine Man

Remembering Bruce with great fondness and appreciation
11 May 1938 – 14 April 2017

Bruce Langhorne Mr Tambourine Man

    Bruce Langhorne Tambourine Man

Mr Tambourine Man

I first became familiar with Bob Dylan’s “Mr Tambourine Man” when the Byrds sang it in 1965. Nothing wrong with that or their classic recording of it.

Dylan wrote the song early in 1964. Like most of life, even for the famous, there were no amanuensis following Dylan’s every move and recording for posterity what happened, why, and when. Some say he finished writing “Mr Tambourine Man” at their house; others say “No, it was mine.”

Bruce Langhorne Tambourine Man

Horseshoes and hand grenades

And who was this Mr Tambourine Man? However trivial, it is of interest because Bruce Langhorne was much more than a tambourine player. His All music credit list reads like a Who’s Who of Greenwich Village’s Golden Age of Music: The Clancy Brothers, Dylan, Richard and Mimi Farina, Odetta, Joan Baez, Buffy St Marie, Richie Havens, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Hugh Masekela, Tom Rush, Tommy Flanders, Eric Andersen, John Sebastian, David Ackles, Mike Bloomfield, Gordon Lightfoot, and a “few” others!

I first heard the name Bruce Langhorne in 1969 while listening to my college radio station. The song was Tom Rush’s “Urge for Going” and the DJ pointed out the rapid triplets of notes heard throughout the song. He said the guy who did that was Bruce Langhorne. Click the link below to hear those distinctive triplets.

Bruce Langhorne Tambourine Man

Mr Tambourine Man


Despite Bruce Langhorne’s prodigious talent and lengthy credentials, he never became a household name. Perhaps with the recent revelations regarding the Wrecking Crew and Muscle Shoals’ Swampers, someone will highlight those players, who like Langhorne provided so much of the music we love.

His website reveals three recommendations that any CV would die to have:

 “If you had Bruce playing with you, that’s all you would need to do just about anything.” Bob Dylan [“Chronicles”]

If he were to walk in right now and you didn’t see Bruce, you would feel his presence. He just emanates love and kindness, in addition to being a virtuoso on like 50 string instruments.” Peter Fonda

Just occasionally you come across these geniuses. Bruce Langhorne was one; he responds instinctually to the visual image. Bruce has done some of the most beautiful scoring I have ever been involved with, or ever known.” Jonathan Demme

    Bruce Langhorne Tambourine Man

Brother Bru-Bru Hot sauce

And all this string virtuosity for someone who, “When Bruce Langhorne was a 12-year old violin prodigy living in Harlem in the fifties, he accidentally blew several of his fingers off with a cherry bomb that he held onto for too long. In the ambulance on the way to the hospital, Bruce looked up at his distraught mom and said, ‘At least I don’t have to play violin anymore.’ “

For health reasons, Bruce had to figure out a way to curtail his love for hot sauce or figure out a way of finding a low-sodium hot sauce. He did the latter by creating Brother Bru-Bru Hot Sauce. 

I’ve tried it. It’s pretty good! This is a “dot-info” site and I don’t sell anything nor do I receive anything to support it, so my mentioning Bruce’s product is simply that. I’ve tried it. I like it.  [Bru Bru site]

Having said that, I like Bruce’s triplets even more!

Bruce Langhorne Mr Tambourine Man

    Bruce Langhorne Tambourine Man

Soundtracks

One of Langhorne’s most important projects was doing the soundtrack for Peter Fonda’s movie, The Hired Hand in 1971.Though The Brooklyn Rail  described the movie as “…an often frustratingly abstract film,” it also said that Langhorne’s soundtrack was a masterpiece and “a moment of clarity.”

In 2012, Dylan Golden Aycock’s Scissor Tail Records re-issued the soundtrack and now has gathered several musicians to interpret the soundtrack’s songs. 

In addition to The Hired Hand, Langhorne also did soundtracks for Idaho Transfer (1973), and Outlaw Blues (1977); Bob Rafelson’s Stay Hungry (1976); and Jonathan Demme’s Fighting Mad (1976), Melvin and Howard (1980), and Swing Shift (1984).

    Bruce Langhorne Tambourine Man

Bruce’s death

The reason for the Aycock tribute was not just to raise Langhorne’s name onto the plinth it belongs on, but to raise money to assist Langhorne with medical bills related to his failing health.

Unfortunately, Langhorne died on April 14, 2017 at his home in Venice, Calif. He was 78. The New York Times noted his death in a well-deserved article.

With the continued loss of those musicians who were the foundation of Boomer “underground” music, it is a sad reality that we lost a hero. Fortunately, their music remains.

    Bruce Langhorne Tambourine Man
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