1941 – Born on this day, John Steel, drums, The Animals, (1964 UK & US No.1 single ‘House Of The Rising Sun’).
Initial Association With Eric Burdon
Steel went to the Gateshead Grammar School. He met the future lead singer of The Animals, Eric Burdon, while they were studying together at the Newcastle College of Art and Industrial Design.
Originally a trumpeter, he and Burdon formed a jazz group in January 1957 called The Pagan Jazzmen. They soon switched instruments and embraced the new rock ‘n’ roll explosion, when they became The Pagans.
Joining With Alan Price
In March 1959, Steel and Burdon met Alan Price at a church hop in Byker, Newcastle, and joined forces. The band went through many name changes and different personnel until, as The Kansas City 5, they broke up on Friday 18 May 1962.
Alan Price to The Animals
In 1962 Price formed The Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo. John Steel then replaced Barry Preston as the drummer of the Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo (later to become The Animals) in August 1963.
Steel went on to play and record with them until March 1966. His last charted single with the group was “Inside Looking Out”.
Post 1966: Business and Music
Subsequently Steel returned to Newcastle and became a businessman, while also working in former bandmate Chas Chandler’s management and publishing organisations. In 1971 Chandler introduced him to Eggs over Easy, with whom he played as they started the pub rock music genre. Over the years Steel has remained active as a part-time local drummer and has joined several Animals’ reunion incarnations.
Revisiting The Animals: 1993 – Present
Steel has toured since 1993 as the drummer with variations of The Animals line-up, including Hilton Valentine, Dave Rowberry, Zoot Money and Mick Gallagher. In 1993, Hilton Valentine formed “Animals II” and was joined by John Steel in 1994 and Dave Rowberry in 1999. Other members of this version of the band include Steve Hutchinson, Steve Dawson and Martin Bland. From 1999 until Valentine’s departure in 2001. the band toured as The Animals. After Valentine left these Animals in 2001, Steel and Rowberry continued on as “Animals and Friends”, with Peter Barton, Jim Rodford and John Williamson. When Rowberry died in 2003, he was replaced by Mickey Gallagher (who had briefly replaced Alan Price in 1965). Animals and Friends continues to perform today, and frequently plays engagements on a Color Line ship that travels between Scandinavia and Germany.
Ownership of Band Name
In 2008, an adjudicator determined that John Steel owned “The Animals” name in England, by virtue of a trademark registration Steel had made in relation to the name. Eric Burdon had objected to the trademark registration, arguing that Burdon personally embodied any goodwill associated with “The Animals” name. Burdon’s argument was rejected, in part based on the fact that he had billed himself as “Eric Burdon and The Animals” as early as 1967, thus separating the goodwill associated with his own name from that of the band.
The (Original) Animals (1962–1966, 1977, 1983): Eric Burdon · Alan Price · Chas Chandler · Hilton Valentine · John Steel · Dave Rowberry · Mick Gallagher · Barry Jenkins
Eric Burdon & The (New) Animals (1966–1969): Eric Burdon · John Weider · Vic Briggs · Danny McCulloch · Barry Jenkins · Zoot Money · Andy Summers
The Animals (1962–1966)
The Animals (U.S.) · The Animals (UK) · The Animals on Tour · Animal Tracks (UK) · Animal Tracks (U.S.) · Animalisms · Animalization · Animalism
Eric Burdon & The Animals
Eric Is Here · Winds of Change · The Twain Shall Meet · Every One of Us · Love Is
The Animals (1977, 1983)
Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted · Ark
The Best of The Animals (1966) · The Greatest Hits of Eric Burdon and The Animals · The Most of Animals · The Best of The Animals (1988) · The Best of The Animals (1997) · Absolute Animals 1964-1968
“Baby Let Me Take You Home” · “The House of the Rising Sun” · “I’m Crying” · “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” · “Bring It On Home to Me” · “We Gotta Get out of This Place” · “It’s My Life” · “Inside-Looking Out” · “Don’t Bring Me Down” · “See See Rider” · “Help Me Girl” · “When I Was Young” · “Good Times” · “San Franciscan Nights” · “Monterey” · “Sky Pilot” · “The Night”