Alan Price biography

Discussion in 'Alan Price Biography' started by Jean, Jun 26, 2006.

  1. Jean

    Jean Webmaster Staff Member

    Working on producing a biography - to be posted at a later date.

    If anybody has something to include - please post in this topic and I will try to incorporate as applicable.
  2. hollyh

    hollyh Founder Member

    A CD insert for a Best of the Animals compilation I have reproduces some fan material from 1964, with the following info about Alan: Born April 19, 1942 (some other sources I have read say 1943) in Fatfield, Co. Durham. At the time he wrote this (1964), Alan claimed to be 5 ft 9 inches, 10 stone 4 lb, with blue eyes and fair hair. His parents' names were John George and Elizabeth; his older brother was John George as well. (I believe his father died when Alan was about 6? His mother died at the end of 1965, just before I Put A Spell On You was recorded; his brother died only a few years ago.) Along with the organ, piano, and vibes Alan plays guitar and bass; his musicial education was self-taught, though his brother -- who played trumpet -- helped him. Alan says he entered show business as an amateur at age 14; his first public performance was at the Jarrow Congregational Church in 1957 with a skiffle group. He turned professional at age 21, and says his biggest career break was signing for manager Mike Jeffreys and promoter Don Arden. His first important public appearance, he wrote, was with the Jerry Lee Lewis Show tour. The biggest influence on his career was hearing Ray Charles for the first time. He formerly worked as an income tax officer. (Eric Burdon was a labourer and postman, Hilton Valentine a machinist, Chas Chandler an instrument maker, and John Steel a technical illustrator.) Alan's hobby is "relaxing"!

    Favourite color: blue.
    Favourite singers: Ray Charles, Buddy Greco, Ketty Lester, Dinah Washington, Jimmy Witherspoon.
    Favourite actors: Montgomery Clift, Paul Newman, James Dean, Shirley MacLaine.
    Favourite food: steaks.
    Favourite drink: Whiskey.
    Favourite clothes: casual. (Chas prefers "good suits.")
    Favourite bands: Quincy Jones, Lionel Hampton, Thelonius Monk, Jimmy Smith, Horace Silver.
    Favourite composers: Elmer Bernstein and Duke Ellington.
    Likes: Blues music, dogs, and anything that glitters.
    Dislikes: Traveling, snow, bigots.
    Best friend: Barry Thompson (cousin back home).
    Most thrilling experience: Peforming first night of Chuck Berry show. Musical tastes: Various, ranging from classical to sophisticated cabaret. (The other 4 Animals simply wrote R&B.)
    At the time he had a pet dog named Paddy (a bitch), the only one of the Animals to have a pet (though Eric and Hilton had cars and Alan didn't.)

    Personal ambition: To be respected in Britain and America as a musician and entertainer.
    Professional ambition: To make enough money in order that I can do anything I want.
  3. Jean

    Jean Webmaster Staff Member

    :) That's just what I was looking for Holly!
  4. "007"

    "007" New Member

    :?: :?: :?:
    "At the time he was 5 ft 9 inches, 10 stone 4 lb, with blue eyes and fair hair"

    That's one BIG BABY!!!
  5. Jean

    Jean Webmaster Staff Member

  6. hollyh

    hollyh Founder Member

    Okay, smartypants, I edited that sentence above to make it clearer. :p
  7. hollyh

    hollyh Founder Member

    It's also useful to trace the genealogy of the Animals. It begins with the Kansas City Five, initially an informal Big Band that gradually moved to embrace R&B: its nucleus included pianist Alan Price, drummer John Steel, and vocalist Eric Burdon (who started out as a trombonist -- but you can't play the trombone and sing at the same time!). By 1962 they were the house band at the Downbeat Club, but then Alan left to join a rival band, the Kontors (also spelled Kontours -- anybody know which is right?). Burdon went to London to seek fame and fortune.
    Bryan "Chas" Chandler was the bassist for the Kontors, and when their drummer left John Steel joined too. They became a trio, now called the Alan Price R&B Combo, and they took over the Downbeat house gig. Meanwhile, guitarist Hilton Valentine was playing round town in his own band, the Wild Cats. Eric Burdon moved back from London in 1963 and promptly joined the Alan Price R&B combo; they soon added Hilton Valentine -- and the personnel line-up was in place. They cut a 4-track EP of 500 copies, under a new name: The Animals, a name that the fans had used to describe their demonic R&B. The EP sold like wildfire, and the Animals were on their way.
    I'd give just about anything for an original copy of that EP. I do have a re-release of some Kontors material, back when they were still doing pop covers instead of R&B, before Eric joined them. It's good, but it ain't the Animals. :cool:
  8. Jean

    Jean Webmaster Staff Member

    Yep, Holly I would also like to own a copy of Animals ALO 10867.

    I do have a 1965 mono 7" 'In the beginning there was EARLY ANIMALS'
    tracks are:

    Also, today I was browsing through a site that had Alan's discography and saw ' Morning Price' mentioned -
    hadn't heard of it before, so I did a google search and hey presto! somebody had one copy for sale.
    Needless to say I bought it although I have no idea what songs are on it.
    Will let you know when it arrives - or have you got a copy? I think it originated in US.

  9. hollyh

    hollyh Founder Member

    No, I don't have that one, and I've never heard of it. Alan's always full of surprises!
  10. hollyh

    hollyh Founder Member

  11. hollyh

    hollyh Founder Member

    ...and another link to another article, this one longer...
    (as so many of these older links have been closed down I have saved the article here - Webmaster)

    The following interview, conducted in December 1995, originally appeared in Goldmine.
    Note: With regard to the exchange Price and I had over "Simon Smith," my last name really is Goldstein.

    Alan Price
    By Dawn Eden

    In the wake of Warner Brothers' recent reissue of Alan Price's soundtrack to O Lucky Man!, a long-awaited item on many Goldmine readers' CD want lists, the time is right to re-examine the career of the former Animals organist.

    While Price (born April 19, 1942) is best-known to Americans as the composer and on-screen singer of the soundtrack to that 1973 Lindsay Anderson classic, in his English homeland he is an all-around entertainer/cultural icon. In many of his songs, particularly those on his autobiographical concept album Between Today And Yesterday, he praises the tenacity and courage of the working class "Geordies" that still make up a large portion of his Newcastle hometown.

    Strangely, the same Alan Price who presents himself as a champion of the oppressed faces a PR war from his former Animals, who accuse him of oppression of the highest order. In the words of Eric Burdon, they claim that Price "nicked" the writing credit on the Animals' biggest hit, "House Of The Rising Sun". (Since the folk tune "House Of The Rising Sun" is in the public domain, artists who record it may take writer's credit for their arrangement.) While Price's agent claims that the artist does have an explanation for why he alone among the Animals got the writing credit for the tune, Goldmine found him extraordinarily tight-lipped on the subject. (In fact, very few of his facial muscles got any kind of a workout; the unsmiling Price has a stone face that puts Buster Keaton to shame.) Fortunately, he was more than willing to discuss every other aspect of his career, from time spent with Bob Dylan (immortalized in the film "Don't Look Back") to his celebrated partnership with "O Lucky Man!" director Lindsay Anderson. Goldmine caught up with him in a hotel outside of Newcastle, the morning after a tour date with his Electric Blues Company, which includes UK cult favorite Zoot Money on additional keyboards and ex-Jeff Beck singer Bobby Tench on bass.

    Goldmine: Back in your pre-Animals days, when did you make the transition from skiffle music to rock and roll?

    Alan Price: First of all, there was a skiffle group when I was twelve years old, called the Black Diamonds. That transmogrified into the Frankie Headley Five. We were all students at Jarrow Grammar School. When I was playing with them, in about 1958 or �59, I met a group called the Pagans. They played in between our sets at the Byker Parish Rock Club, which was in a church in Newcastle. There was a vicar there who put on Monday evening dances. That's where I heard Eric Burdon for the first time, when he was playing with the Pagans. I sat in with them and eventually joined them.

    The group was playing little gigs here and there, spasmodically. After a while, I got bored, because the other members were in it just to have parties, and the group was a sideline, while I wanted to be more professional. So I dissolved that group and then joined Chas Chandler in a group called the Konturs, which played covers.

    While I was with them, we played a little place in Sunderland whose owners had a place called the Cellar Club in Southshields. I wanted to learn to play a bit of jazz, so I asked them if I could put on a trio there. That was called the Alan Price Combo. It was there that Eric Burdon came back to Newcastle after going down to London, where he'd gone to look at the scene, and he told me that the rhythm and blues scene was going rather well. So he asked whether he could sit in with my band. Which he did. So that was the basis of the Alan Price Combo, which eventually turned into the Animals.

    Goldmine: Was it around the time that Burdon joined that the locals started referring to you as "the animals"?

    Alan Price: In early �63, Ronan O'Rahilly, who started the pirate radio station Radio Caroline, came up to see us in Newcastle, because of the gold rush after the success of the Beatles and the Stones, where people were chasing after groups....The Alan Price Combo's name was changed essentially because Ronan O'Rahilly said to me that he'd gone down to London and said that the Alan Price Combo was coming, and the name was considered very pass�.

    I think that 'the Animals' came about because Eric had gone to art college and he was concerned with image above content. He said that there was a chap who was from a group called the Squatters, who were hitchhikers who had been thrown out of youth hostels, and their leader was a guy called Animal Hog who used to wander around with an Alsatian. Part of the conversation I think was picked up on, and they decided that the name should be called the Animals.

    Goldmine: How did your artistic vision differ from that of the others at that time?

    Alan Price: I don't think there particularly was one.

    Goldmine: They were still ravers, just out to have fun?

    Alan Price: Yes. It's a very good philosophy, but it doesn't sit happily with a career.

    Goldmine: The Animals' first single, "Baby Let Me Take You Home," came from Bob Dylan's reworking of "Baby Let Me Follow You Down."

    Alan Price: No, it didn't. [Producer] Mickie Most, who was very smart, used to follow what were then called "race records". He would make periodic visits to the States and buy a whole bunch of records that were in the black charts, and one of them was the version of that song that we covered. The B-side, "Gonna Send You Back To Walker," is a bastardization of the blues song "Gonna Send You Back To Georgia". [Walker is on the outskirts of Newcastle.]

    Goldmine: I understand that it was Mickie Most's feeling that "House Of The Rising Sun" should be a single.

    Alan Price: I think we're going to have to avoid "The House Of The Rising Sun"altogether; it's become a whole mess.

    Goldmine [hoping to negotiate]: Can I stop the tape for a minute?

    Alan Price: No. The one phrase you can use is that success has a thousand fathers, and failure is an orphan. [He pauses for effect, as a dumbfounded Goldmine attempts to comprehend.] Okay, we'll move on from there.

    Goldmine: Yes. Now, um, "House Of The Rising Sun"--one take? [Dead silence.] I was asking about the recording, not the song.

    Alan Price: It's been well documented, "House Of The Rising Sun." We're actually in 1995.

    Goldmine: Most certainly. When did you start writing originals?

    Alan Price: I was writing them when I was an amateur, but it wasn't until I discovered Randy Newman that I felt confident enough to write personal songs.

    Goldmine: It's funny that you should say that, because Randy Newman says that his songs aren't personal. He claims that they're written in the third person.

    Alan Price [curling his lip]: I didn't say that they were his personal songs. I said that it wasn't until I discovered Randy Newman and the area that he covered in his songwriting that I felt able to do it.

    Goldmine: One of the greatest originals that you wrote while in the Animals is "I'm Crying". Does that song come closest to reflecting the musical direction that you wanted to pursue at that time?

    Alan Price: No, no. We were being harassed into producing material, as everybody was in those days. At that time, we'd just toured Britain with Carl Perkins. We all became extremely friendly with him on the tour bus, and he showed me that chord sequence. He was very fond of the Everly Brothers and he played me that lick which they used. I learned how to play it on the piano. After that, we were obliged to do a series of Sunday night concerts in the resort town of Blackpool, in Lancashire, and we shared the bill with Manfred Mann. The people who booked us were very fortunate that both we and Manfred Mann had Number One records during that 12-week season. So, we had traveled from wherever we were touring with Carl Perkins to Blackpool for this Sunday concert, and, during sound check I played that riff for Eric and he made up all the words. And that was "I'm Crying,"really. It was just a throwaway attempt at a song, without any conviction whatsoever.

    Goldmine: What are the Animals songs of which you're proudest?

    Alan Price: None whatsoever.

    Goldmine: Not well-written, not well-recorded...?

    Alan Price: No, because, essentially, all of the product was the result of a conflict of interest. We had a missionary zeal about blues music, and I felt, particularly, that Mickie Most was attempting to homogenize, sweeten, and make it accessible for the mass market. Which is understandable if you're the producer, but aggravating if you're the artist.

    Goldmine: So he wanted to do with you what he was doing with Herman's Hermits, basically?

    Alan Price: You're saying that. I didn't say that.

    Goldmine: That's why I'm asking you. I wouldn't say it if--

    Alan Price: I thought I was being very clear.

    Goldmine: I'm very sorry.

    Alan Price: As I say, the Animals had a particular concept of themselves as a band. There was an anarchic spirit in it, which was being flattened by commercial designs, attitudes, and needs.

    Goldmine [terrified of mentioning That Song again]: How did it feel to learn that your recording, which shall not be named, influenced Dylan's desire to go electric?

    Alan Price: I really don't know whether that's true. I've found, to my despair, that a lot of things get in the public domain and become accepted fact, when actually they're just the surmisation, mishearing, or pure bloodymindedness of journalists, who have their own egos and actually feel as though they have an 'in,' and construct events as they would like them to be seen. And then that passes into the public domain. Then, of course, then become accepted fact, when in fact they're not truth at all....I don't know if Dylan actually said that. I read it in an article that he stopped the car, with Joan Baez in it, and beat the bumper in a kind of frustration, thinking that that's what he wanted to do. Now, the few times I was with Dylan, I never saw him exhibit any sort of temper like that, so I feel that that was probably untrue.

    Goldmine: Excuse me for just a sec. I'll be right back. [Goes out into the hallway. Screams. Comes back in.] Would you agree that your hanging out with Dylan symbolized your gradual breaking-away from the Animals?

    Alan Price: No, no. The day before I left the Animals, I went to a CBS reception, where Tony Bennett was singing, where I met up with Joan Baez and her assistant. I took them on a train to an Animals gig, and was late for the gig. The Animals had gone home. When I went back to the Savoy Hotel with Joan Baez, I proposed to her, just to get out of having to fly to Sweden the next day. [Price's fear of flying has dogged him throughout his career.] The next day, I told the Animals that I was leaving.

    Goldmine: Not that Dylan actually influenced your leaving, but perhaps your closeness with him highlighted the artistic differences between yourself and the other Animals.

    Alan Price: The Animals were a very separate and dissonant group at the time. We came from different backgrounds, different areas - we didn't even come from the same town, basically. So we weren't what you would call "mates�....If there was any sort of fellowship, it was between the fact that Eric was the singer and I was - I think the work is 'amanuensis,' the translator. I used to follow his singing closely, and put fills in between. In other words, if you've heard Ray Charles singing and playing piano, I did the Ray Charles piano bits and he did the Ray Charles singing.

    Goldmine: Your first solo (UK) hit was the Screamin' Jay Hawkins song "I Put A Spell On You," which you learned from Nina Simone's version.

    Alan Price: I made the record the night after my mother died. My mother died on New Year's Eve, in Newcastle, and I had go onstage afterwards. We traveled down to London immediately after the funeral. So I think some of the emotions sort of transmuted themselves onto the record, and I feel that's why it was a success.

    Goldmine: In 1967, instead of getting heavier like so many of your compatriots, you hit the British charts with playful songs like "The House That Jack Built"[not the Aretha Franklin song].

    Alan Price: I quite like childlike songs, which sometimes cross over. Think of "Simon Smith And His Amazing Dancing Bear" [a Randy Newman tune that Price took into the UK Top 10 ]. A lot of children like it, but a lot of messed-up liberals like it, too, because they read all sorts of social whatchamacallit into it. I never even thought of it.

    Goldmine: Social inequity?

    Alan Price: Yes, well, yeah, it could be about poverty. A lot of people think it's about anti-Semitism.

    Goldstein: How on earth is "Simon Smith And His Amazing Dancing Bear" about anti-Semitism?

    Alan Price [straining to be patient, clearly wishing he were somewhere else]: One never knows....As I say, I never understood it. I think it's like everything else; one shouldn't dig too deeply. It's silly to say that with a journalist, but sometimes there is not a truth to be found. Oh, there's always fool's gold, but, if the song is good, that's it. Q.E.D.

    Goldmine: One can't expect people to be like their songs.

    Alan Price: Yeah, it's quite true. In fact, it's probably quite the opposite; their songs express a side of their nature which is subordinated most of the time.

    Goldmine: You first worked with Lindsay Anderson when you scored his West End production of the play "Home". How did you meet him?

    Alan Price: It was a case of mistaken identity. He thought I had written "Simon Smith". We arranged a meeting, which was not very fruitful. He asked me what I liked, and I said Ray Charles. He said, didn't I think that the Concert Iron Works Male Voice Choir was just as legitimate and exciting? I said no and walked out. But he persisted in the relationship.

    Goldmine: A major reason why your soundtrack for "O Lucky Man!" earned so many accolades and awards was because your songs were so perfectly integrated with the film. What was the chemistry like between yourself and Anderson that enabled you to match the songs and the action so closely that one seemed to inspire the other?

    Alan Price: It took nearly two years of preparation, discussion, and argument, exchanging experiences relevant to the subjects we were trying to tackle. So it was a basically intellectual exercise....When the script was written, it was sent to me with asterisks marking where he felt a song would be appropriate. Before the film was shot, the score was written. I made a demo of it, so they lived with the music as they were making the film. There were only two songs--"Look Over Your Shoulder" and "My Hometown"--which were written afterwards.

    Goldmine: Your later soundtracks, like the one you did for "The Whales Of August," have a strong classical influence.

    Alan Price: Classical music's ability to translate emotional themes is fantastic. And I think, possibly because of that, you feel it's a very personal thing. Which leads you into conflict with commercial considerations. That's always been a bugbear of mine over the years, the clash of self-expression versus the needs of the business.

    Back to the Gaits of Eden
  12. Jean

    Jean Webmaster Staff Member

    Thanks Holly, really enjoyed reading those interviews, especially the dawneden one - can just imagine Alan answwering all those questions :lol:
  13. Bassett

    Bassett New Member

    Very interesting those interviews Holly :D
  14. Dids

    Dids New Member

    Why do many of the film bios state that he was born in Fairfield, Co Durham? I always understood it happened in Fatfield, Washington, Tyne & Wear - which, BTW, makes him neither a Geordie nor a Mackam!!
  15. hollyh

    hollyh Founder Member

    For those of you who don't have the CD Between Today and Yesterday (and you should have this CD, it's great!), here's an excerpt from the excellent liner notes by Animals biographer Sean Egan:

    Alan Price was born on April 19th 1942 in Fairfield, Co. Durham [there it is again, Dids! :roll: ] and brought up in Jarrow. ...Price began his musical journey at the age of eight, learning piano, guitar, and bass. As with just about every pop musician of his generation, Price's first band was a Skiffle group. His was called The Black Diamonds, and he was a member at the precocious age of twelve. The Black Diamonds evolved into The Frank Headley Five, all students at Jarrow Grammar School. Whilst playing a gig with said ensemble at the Byker Parish Rock Club in (probably) 1959, Price first came into contact with Eric Burdon and John Steel, students at Newcastle College of Art and Industrial Design, and singer and drummer respectively with a fledgling R&B group called The Pagans. The latter were the act playing the interval spot for the Frank Headley Five, and were surprised when Price approached them to ask if he could sit in on piano during their set. They soon found out why: restricted to the role of rhythm guitarist in his usual group, Price revealed himself in The Pagans' set to be a keyboardist of a quite extraordinarily mellifluous ability. The Pagans instantly asked Price to join them. He did so, gracing their sets with his ever-improving piano technique, as they gradually transmogrified into the Kansas City Seven and the Kansas City Five. However, a disturbing indication of future behavior occurred when Price, without the courtesy of notice, jettisoned his colleagues for a chart-oriented band called the Kontors, whom he felt to be a better proposition. The bass player in this band was Chas Chandler. [Egan's book seems to be the source of much of the anti-Alan sentiment on that Eric Burdon board, I'd guess.]

    Before long Burdon and Steel ended up playing with Price and Chandler in the Kontors, though by this time they had changed both their name -- to the Alan Price Rhythm & Blues Combo -- and their music, with R&B having nudged aside pop. Guitarist Hilton Valentine was the fifth member of the band that would become famous as the Animals.

    The trademark sound of The Animals would be Price's Vox Continental organ work. This instrument was purchased by Price sometime in 1962 and immediately opened up whole new worlds for the band, both logistically -- it was easy to transport and didn't need miking up -- and sonically, its sleek, futuristic sound chiming perfectly with the acoustical feel of the burgeoning space age. To this day, Burdon professes to despise the noise of the Vox -- complaining of its "chintzy, wheezy sound" -- but it would become loved by literally millions during the Animals' heyday. Price himself brought something to the instrument which nobody had before by declining to adapt to it, opting instead to treat it as if he was still playing one of the upright pianos he'd sat at in a thousand and one venues on the Northeast's live circuit. Whereas any other organ player would "lean" on the Vox's keys to take advantage of the instrument's ability to create uninterrupted sound, Price continued to "strike" the keys, which, combined with his blurred-finger prowess, led to a unique, percolating style.

    ...'Baby Let Me Take you Home' had been a respectable debut for the Animals, after independent producer Mickie Most had seen them at a London gig...But 'House of the Rising Sun,' the band's second single, was a classic, and became a transatlantic chart topper in 1964. Price's organ work is stunning throughout, pulsing hypnotically where it's not soaring exquisitely, providing an exotic instrumental break and delivering the coup de grace with a final wash that -- triumphantly -- puts the listener in mind of the hazy light that seeps over the horizon at daybreak....many had no trouble accepting the composing credit of 'Traditional, arranged by Price.' His colleagues, however, thought otherwise, and Price's relationship with them deteriorated sharply. In April 1965 -- after three further classic singles in "I'm Cryin'", 'Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood', and 'Bring It On Home To Me"...Price left the Animals with the same total lack of forewarning as he'd dumped the Kansas City Five.

    I'll post more of this when I've got more time. It's good background...
  16. hollyh

    hollyh Founder Member

    Just received a full-page clipping from Sounds newspaper, dated 23 Nov 1974. with an interview with Alan just after he'd finished filming Alfie Darling. I think the writer did a sloppy job and didn't really do much homework before interviewing Alan, so it's fairly superficial -- but any material on Alan is welcome. Here's an excerpt:

    The film just completed was shot in ten weeks in Britain and France by director Ken Hughes and also stars Jill Townshend and Joan Collins. Based on the second book by the "Alfie" author [Bill Naughton, I believe] the film is not really related to its predecessor....

    Unique among rock biz people, Alan Price keeps proper perspective on his career, realising his potential and limits. He refuses to push himself over the edge or get caught up in that destructive survival cycle. He got out of the Animals when original ideals were forsaken for easy money, he paces himself with a firm grip on the future, he played himself in "O Lucky Man", a musician without pretensions, wrote lyrics tinged with cynicism, and revealed even more about his private self both present and past in the autobiographical album "Between Today and Yesterday," and the subsequent television documentary. Alan Price likes to keep things real.

    "The essential thing about the film [Alfie Darling] is that it's real and that's very important to me. I didn't want to do another film for a long time after 'O Lucky Man', for that took a lot out of me. My only misgivings were that it might be a complete disaster but I'm satisfied. The first few weeks I had stomach cramps and lots of apprehension.

    "I'm still not out of the film yet," he says in hypnotic disbelief. "You get such a buzz from the intensity of it, laughing, crying, marriages falling apart; it all reminded me what it was like being on the road. Except this is much more immediate...."

    [A bit cryptic that -- Alan's marriage fell apart while filming this movie, as he got involved with his co-star Jill Townshend. Later in the interview he says, "You can't take touring just for getting your kicks. Hell I'm a married man, I get my kicks at home." :? But back to the interview...]

    What with a steady stream of adolescent girls ringing the Warner Brothers Press office demanding the latest fax and info on Adam Faith while staring dreamily at his 8 x 10 glossies, did Alan expect to become that latest British heartthrob, guaranteed to make little girls weak when walking down the streets?

    "Naw," he says almost embarrassed by the conversation. "I'm not made of that material. You're chosen for an effect on women, they invest you with those kind of qualities. This guy I play is supposed to be a stud and people assume that's how you are. That's what's gonna be the odd one."

    As he did in the past with "O Lucky Man," Price will score the soundtrack for the film, writing and recording the bulk of the material which he expects to be more rock-orientated than his usual barrelhouse, music hall shuffle. [Had this writer actually listened to Alan's previous music before writing this?]

    "I wrote most of the music when I came home at night from working on the set because writing the music was really a good release. I'll do the soundtrack but there will be additional material as well cause there's lots of love in the film and I've never really gone much on writing love songs. I've written them in the past but never used them...." [I find that interesting. Alan not big on love songs?]

    Earlier this year, following the release of his "Between Today and Yesterday" album, Alan Price toured major American cities for the first time since his days in the Animals when anything British meant instant success. But Alan Price isn't younger than yesterday, he doesn't have the energy nor the motivation to sell, sell, sell himself or his music.

    "Ya see I don't want to go back to all that. I don't like repeating myself. You've got to be a dummy if you think you're the same at 32 as you were at 21. It's an energy game and lots of people burn themselves out. Money ain't no reason for doing it. Why do it? It's such a closet existence. I'd rather make films and music...Look, I want to stay successful not for the fame but the chance of doing what you want.

    "The thing that bothers me is the constant suffering, always assessing where you are, what you're doing. And if you have to write about it, it keeps coming back to you. It's like living in the space between your face and the reflection in the mirror. Quite a good image," he smiles.
  17. hollyh

    hollyh Founder Member

    Here are a few quotes from Alan Price himself, drawn from the liner notes to the Alan Price Set lp The House That Jack Built: The Complete 60s Sessions:

    On leaving the Animals (reportedly he went straight from London to his mother's house and slept for 36 hours straight):
    "I went into hibernation when I left the Animals. I had a bit of a drink was like a semi-breakdown. Except in Newcastle, you don't have breakdowns. You get drunk a lot and play football with your mates."

    On recording "I Put A Spell On You":
    "I made the record the night after my mother died. My mother died on New year's Eve, in Newcastle, and I had to go onstage afterwards. We travelled down to London immediately after the funeral. So I think some of the emotions sort of transmuted themselves onto the record, and that's why it was a success."

    On beginning to write his own songs:

    "I was writing songs when I was an amateur, but it wasn't until I discovered Randy Newman that I felt confident enojgh to write personal songs."
  18. hollyh

    hollyh Founder Member

    In a batch of press clippings about Alan than I bought on eBay, there was quite a good one on Alan's involvement with Georgie Fame. Here are a few facts from that piece:

    Alan learned to play piano by ear as a child. His elder brother gave Alan a guitar when Alan was 13 and immediately he started a school skiffle group.

    Alan produced his long-time friend Georgie's single "Seventh Son," which helped to resuscitate Georgie's career after a disastrous US tour in 1968.

    Alan and Georgie first performed together on a Lulu TV show in the late 1960s. On the strength of this, in 1969 they were offered their own TV series -- first The Price of Fame, then Fame At Any Price.

    In February 1971, Alan and Georgie launched their new joint band in London at the Mayfair Theatre. At the time, Lindsay Anderson was considering trying to make a documentary about the itinerant life of a rock performer, and it was going to be based on Alan and Georgie's band, but that project never went very far -- eventually Lindsay turned it into the Alan Price subplot of O Lucky Man!

    Now here are some quotes from Alan, circa 1972:

    "The sort of life I've had is a speeded-up film compared with most people's lives. I've had no real teenage life [he started performing on a semi-pro basis when he was 15], none of the experiences before marriage which most normal working-class people go through. Instead, I've lived a sort of 20 years' experience jammed into 10 years, a sort of manic-depressive existence.

    "You save up all your energy for one night, one hour, and you scream and you shout and you sweat and all sorts of other things which would make you feel like an idiot if you did them in more normal circumstances. It's very intense, it makes you grow up very quickly. In a way, O Lucky Man is very much a portrayal of my kind of life."
  19. Jean

    Jean Webmaster Staff Member

    Really interesting Holly and I really love this quotation:

    "You save up all your energy for one night, one hour, and you scream and you shout
    and you sweat and all sorts of other things which would make you feel like an idiot
    if you did them in more normal circumstances.
    It's very intense, it makes you grow up very quickly."
  20. Jean

    Jean Webmaster Staff Member

    Another biog article which I thought might interest some.....

    House of the Rising Sunderland fan


    Alan, 2nd left, and
    the Animals' finest hour
    Picture: blackmagicplastic Good though the Animals were as a Sixties band, I had always assumed they were a bunch of Mags.
    "Oh Lord," comes the thundering response from Alan Price at the very thought. "Please don't let me be misunderstood."

    And so Wear Down South** found itself listening to the story of a Sunderland supporter, if no longer through and through
    (more of that later) then at least of impeccable origins.

    It was an interview that took me to the suburban London house of the man responsible for one of the two most familiar organ solos -
    I'd put it alongside Procol Harum's Whiter Shade of Pale, but please feel free to tell me I've got it wrong - in British pop.

    ** The (London & SE) Sunderland supporters' association branch newsletter in which the original article appeared

    Readers of a sensitive disposition, if they wish to avoid the offensive material that follows, are advised to avert their eyes.

    Those made of sterner stuff should put themselves in the place of one Michael Ackerman, from the German town of Wuppertal.

    Ten years ago*, Michael, a devoted Alan Price fan, was racking his brains for soemthing to mark his hero's 50th birthday.
    Aware of the North East's passion for football, he hit on the brilliant idea of buying him shares in his favourite club.

    So Alan, Jarrow lad and lifelong Sunderland supporter, became the bemused owner of a small stake in....Newcastle United.

    "I was too embarrassed to tell him," said Alan when he invited Wear Down South to his home in a quiet corner of south west London.

    Consequently, to this day, the Price household receives a steady supply of corporate junk, all the umwanted bumph from St James' Park
    that would make most of us reach for those nosepegs worn by the French before they could bring themselves to vote for Chirac and
    keep the fascist Le Pen out of the Elysée in 2002.

    In fact, despite the Animals' Tyneside origins, only the late Chas Chandler was a true Mag. The other three had little or no interest in football.

    Quick-witted and chatty, Alan looks a lot younger than your average 60-year-old* rock dinosaur. He is probably better read than most of them, too, even though he also has an appealing hint of the sort of ordinariness his contemporaries would have tried very hard to shed.

    When I found his home, he was chewing on a modest TV dinner before the kick-off of a televised Newcastle vs Fulham game. So was Alan, like me, grudgingly hoping for a home win to keep Fulham in the relegation battle?

    Not a bit of it.

    Here was someone who had only developed a fondness for Fulham after moving south, but even joined its pre-Fayed board for a time.

    Sunderland were his first love, lodged at the centre of his affections since he was taken to Roker Park as a lad of five. So as we sat in front of his television, he shared my concerns about the prospect of our demotion that season. But he also wanted Fulham to stay up, and was rooting for them as they defied Newcastle to grab a draw.

    Born in Fatfield in April 1942, Alan Price has not merely enjoyed one outstanding showbiz career. In truth, he has moved seamlessly from one to another and then another.

    A year off school with jaundice helped along his natural musical gifts. Largely self-taught, he became adept on piano, organ, guitar and bass.

    By 16, he was playing skiffle and blues around the North East's clubs. The groups had names like the Pagans, the Kontours and the Black Diamonds and Alan played at different times in such bands with all four of his future fellow Animals.

    In 1961, he formed the Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo which, within a year, had brought together the Animals' original line-up: Alan and Chas, plus Eric Burdon, Hilton Valentine and John Steel. They decided on the name change (against Alan's will) after moving to the Smoke in 1964.

    With Burdon's earthy vocals and Alan's great organ work, the Animals swept to No 1 on both sides of the Atlantic with one of the era's most memorable singles.

    House of the Rising Sun helped establish them as the North East band to rival, if not the Beatles of the Stones, certainly the Who or Moody Blues. And more hits followed, among them Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood and I'm Crying.

    But Alan became disillusioned. Exhaustion and a fear of flying were the official reasons for his departure in 1965. Beyond that. he was also suffering from wounded pride.

    He felt his massive musical contribution had been taken for granted and, having accepted the band's vote to thange its name, was bitterly upset when the others declined to extend the democratic process to a whipround to replace his prized Wurlitzer electric piano, stolen 10 days after he bought it.

    For all Eric Burdon's charisma, and the sizeable cult following he went on to win, it was Alan who was to become easily the more successful solo artist after the break-up. I Put A Spell On You, Simon Smith And His Amazing Dancing Bear, Jarrow Song, The Trimdon Grange Explosion......the full discography might need a Wear Down South series all of its own.

    Along the way, there was a partnership with Georgie Fame, the source of some of Alan's happiest professional memories. Then came film soundtracks, musicals, a spot of acting - "they sent me to Stratford-on-Avon to try to get rid of my accent" - and, long ago, an Animals reunion.

    "That was 1983," Alan told me. "I haven't seen Eric since."

    It begs the obvious question. Do they really hate each other?

    Alan is vague, but the answer is hardly a conclusive. "Eric got publicity for a certain amount of time by slagging me off. But that's just how it was. No one wants to hear you are best buddies."

    Alan's point is that the five Animals were "really just ships in the night", musicians who came together because they were the best around, not because they were mates. Now, they - the survivors, that is - are just "different people living different lives".

    And where has SAFC slotted into this busy life? These days, he relies of TV and newspapers, or the radio when he's heading for a matchday gig.

    "I have no particular desire to go to the Stadium of Light," he admitted. "I'm a Roker Park man."

    He couldn't have asked for a finer introduction to the old place. It was nearly 55 years ago* when, taken by his father with his older brother, John, he amde his Roker debut at a game that saw our bright new £10,000 signing, Ronnie Turnbull, score all four goals in a tonking of Portsmouth.

    Tragedy struck the Price household a few months later. A chargehand at British Oxygen, Alan's father was killed in a works accident when, during an emergency, a cylinder blew up as he carried it to safety.

    "My dad died a hero," Alan said simply.

    The family moved to Jarrow, where Alan went to grammar school. He attended games throughout his boyhood and teens, and remembers Len Shackleton's tricks, the Bank of England team and, among individual matches, a four-goal comeback against Chelsea in 1955. This was some feat; Fulham's other small club had won the championship only the previous season.

    "I used to go by train, get off at Seaburn and buy liquorice root at the chemist on my way to the ground," he said. He loved the Roker Roar and the huge crowds. He remembers with less pleasure the historic relegation, our first from the top flight, in 1958.

    The rot had set in, he thinks, with the illegal payments scandal that led in 1957 to a damning Football League Commission report and sanctions (later overturned, but the damage was done).

    "I'm sure it was happening everywhere," Alan said. "But it was Sunderland who paid the price.

    "I screamed when we went down. We hadn't won the league since 1936, the cup since 1937, but we had never played out of the top division and it was the one thing you'd been able to hang on to."

    Since leaving the North East, Alan has seen only occasional Sunderland games. He flew back from working in Los Angeles for the 1973 FA Cup Final. To most people, it was a fairytale, but Alan had predicted the outcome. On TV with Jack Charlton, he'd said we would win 1-0 while Jackie insisted that we had no chance.

    That night, May 5 1973, Shack and Jackie Milburn danced (with their wives, not each other; Shack would surely not have invited a Mag on to the floor) as Alan sang his heart out for the Lads at the West End victory banquet.

    Later, he rang his brother. John, sadly no longer with us, had watched the game nervously at home. "You know," he told Alan, "my behind was nipping the buttons off the sofa." Hands up those WDS readers who practicising their own button-nipping technique as they read that.

    After Alan's biggest solo hit, Jarrow Song, the telly people took him back to make a documentary about his roots. At Shack's home, then on the seafront at Roker, he was taken up to the loft.

    "He opened a chest and tossed an England shirt at me, saying 'do you want one of these? They never did me any good'."

    Shack later recommended Alan to Ernie Clay, then Fulham's chairman. "He came up at a match and said 'Len tells me you like football. Would you like to be a director?'.

    "I had asked about the possibility of joining the Sunderland board, and was told that it would cost £100,000 as they owned the freehold of Roker Park. I joined the Fulham board for a third of that. I wasn't rich enough for Sunderland, buit was poor enough for Fulham."

    That spell in the boardroom changed Alan's outlook. He had never been one for tribal rivalries. He recalls schooldays when the boys were equally split between red and whites and black and whites "with the odd Berwick Rangers fan in between", and is happy when NUFC and Boro are there as well as us in the top flight.

    "I still get excited about football, and think of Sunderland as the team of my family. But I'm not as obsessive as I used to be. Once you get inside a club as I did, you become not blasé or cynical but more intelligent about your emotions."

    It is hard to do justice to the Alan Price story, even in a couple of thousand words. He still performs regularly, 50-plus concerts a year. The hits are included but his band is no jaded nostalgia act.

    I missed the branch social evening after West Ham away (ruining my hopes of letting the Lads, popping in on their way home from Upton Park, know how much I'd enjoyed my afternoon) and went instead to the South Bank for Alan's superb 60th birthday concert. So good I almost forgot the 3-0 thrashing.

    Herr Ackerman was at the show, too. Needless to say, he hadn't come empty-handed from Germany.

    "True to form," said Alan, "now that I'm teetotal, he brought me a bottle of Scotch."

    * Don't forget that such references apply to the time of writing, namely in early 2002. It was a bad season, but we managed to stay up for one more year.
    As for a 2007 update, there is no fairy tale reconversion to report.
    He still hasn't been lured to the Stadium Of Light - and if big Niall is reading this, he is surely the only man whose luring might do the trick. So, to quote my man in the know, we simply cannot say what Alan thinks of the Keane revolution.


    I know a lot of it is repeated from other places but there are some quite interesting bits :p :p :p

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