Animals' lawsuit

Discussion in 'Alan Price Biography' started by hollyh, Dec 14, 2008.

  1. hollyh

    hollyh Founder Member

    Found this article on the on-line edition of the Daily Mail:

    Eric Burdon loses battle to be the only Animal

    By Daniel Boffey
    Last updated at 12:31 AM on 14th December 2008

    Their legendary song House Of The Rising Sun helped make The Animals famous in the Sixties, until the band broke up amid much acrimony. Now, more than 40 years later, two original members of the band have resumed battle – in a bitter fight over who can still use the famous name.

    Former lead singer Eric Burdon has been locked in a legal dispute with drummer John Steel over who has the right to make it their trademark. Burdon, 67, argued he was a living personification of the band, adding that he still performed in the UK and around the world under the names The Animals and Eric Burdon And The Animals.

    But after a three-year battle, a Government trademark adjudicator has made a ruling in favour of Steel. And as he issued his judgment, he was devastating in his assessment of Burdon, saying: ‘[He] seems to contend that he is, at least in his own mind, a rock and roll legend whose mere existence serves to keep the goodwill in the original band alive. He is, I am afraid, mistaken.’

    Burdon’s lawyer had argued that he was ‘the charismatic lead singer and songwriter who has captivated the hearts and imagination of generation upon generation of teenagers the world over’. And, in a direct blast at 67-year-old Steel, she added that ‘no one remembers the drummer’.

    But in his no-nonsense ruling, George Salthouse, the adjudicator at the Intellectual Property Office, said: ‘As to the former, this was not borne out by the evidence provided, and, with regard to the latter, I trust that she does not encounter Ringo.’

    The legal tussle began in 2005 when Burdon, who now lives in Joshua Tree, California, filed a ‘notice of opposition’ to Steel’s application a year earlier to register The Animals as his UK trademark. Steel hoped to use the name to sell CDs and concert tickets. But Burdon argued that it was his name that was ‘to a very large extent, synonymous with that of The Animals’.

    Burdon and Steel, both originally from Gateshead, first met in the late Fifties while they were studying at art college in Newcastle. They formed The Animals in the early Sixties with keyboard player Alan Price, guitarist Hilton Valentine and bass player Bryan ‘Chas’ Chandler. As well as House Of The Rising Sun – in which Burdon sang ‘Oh mother, tell your children not to do what I have done’ – the band had a hit with We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, then split in 1966.

    Since then, Steel, who now lives in Newcastle, had played at various reunion gigs and on reunion albums. In 1994, the original members were inducted into America’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    However, the adjudicator said there was no evidence Burdon had sought to use The Animals name in the UK, and that all evidence of his activities since 1966 showed ‘an aversion to being associated as a member of The Animals group’, with the nearest he came being performances using the name Eric Burdon And The Animals.

    Mr Salthouse added: ‘To my mind, the goodwill accrued by the band during the period 1963 to 1966 would have long dissipated by February 11, 2004, the date of the application, despite the minor top-ups provided by the half-hearted reunions, re-releasing the same song on two occasions, featuring on an advertisement and two films, and being inducted into a museum in the USA.’

    Instead, Mr Salthouse said, the evidence clearly showed that Steel was a founder member of the band in 1963, played with them until very shortly before the split in 1966, and played at the subsequent reunion concerts and on the reunion albums. He added: ‘[Steel] had been using the name, sporadically, for a period of 11 years and no one else had made use of the mark in the UK.’

    Burdon was ordered to pay £5,932 towards Steel’s legal costs. Steel declined to comment.
  2. Jean

    Jean Webmaster Staff Member

    Very interesting Holly!

    £5,932 phew! -that will put a dent in his bank account ;)
  3. hollyh

    hollyh Founder Member

    I hope John Steel does something interesting with the Animals now!

    I have to disagree with the judge on one score -- those reunions were hardly "minor top-ups" or "half-hearted." I really liked those two reunion albums! Perhaps he ought to stick to jurisprudence and leave the music criticism to others. :roll:
  4. milka

    milka New Member

  5. Daria

    Daria New Member

    It's strange to me that nothing was said about Alan stealing the rights for the House of the Rising Sun :) at last!
    It seems that Eric Burdon just like arguing with other members of the band. I don't understand why. He does his solo career with his own name. Everyone (almost everyone) knows who Eric Burdon is. Even without the Animals. I guess he was just bored :)

    Anyway I myself never thought EB was the leader of the band. Alan was :)

    Wow. The thread is one-year old... Anyway, thanks for the article :)
  6. Jean

    Jean Webmaster Staff Member

    Not exactly true that Alan could be charged with actually stealing the rights of House of the Rising Sun
    - it just was more convenient to put one name on the label instead of all of the Animals so his name was used.
    The only reason for the arguments is that it became a great hit - if it hadn't nobody would have bothered.
  7. Daria

    Daria New Member

    Jean, of course I exaggerated the situation. Though you know, in an interview with EB he became so nervous, explaining that some guy (presumably AP) sits in his armchair, smokes his pipe and get all the money for their hit. I got the feeling that EB really thinks Alan stole the fame and the money. Though I still don't get why they needed only one name on the label. Probably they might put it like arr. the Animals. They also might say it's a trad song or something.

    The whole situation is rather childish. I'm just happy they didn't mention it in the article.
  8. hollyh

    hollyh Founder Member

    Yeah, Eric's the one who can't seem to let it go! :hehe:

Share This Page