Every year is leap year for Eric Burdon & the Animals | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Every year is leap year for Eric Burdon & the Animals

Lake Tahoe Action
Eric Burdon & the Animals play the South Shore Room Saturday.

Eric Burdon celebrated his 71st birthday last month but no one who has seen him perform recently would accuse him of being a long-haired creaking gnome.

Burdon, whose birthday was May 11, penned “Spill the Wine” with WAR in the early 1970s, addressed the gnome reference in an e-mail to Lake Tahoe Action before a 2010 show.

“Born a gnome, die a gnome,” he wrote. “My hair is short. It went white overnight due to some problems I incurred whilst in custody at the hands of the law in Germany. (Innocent, of course!) However, there are still a couple of leaps I’d like to attempt.”

A member of the British Invasion in the 1960s, Burdon was an innocent bystander in another, much-less-publicized invasion during his Lake Tahoe concert in September 2006, when a handful of audience members jumped onto the stage.

Burdon has some advice for anybody who gets the notion to try it at Saturday’s show at Harrrah’s Lake Tahoe.

“As for (a) stage invasion, they should do it naked,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Maybe we could get some national press out of it! Plus, the security men would have something to grab on to.”

Ranked the 57th greatest singer of all time by Rolling Stone, Burdon performed two years ago at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

His most recent studio album, “Soul of a Man,” reaffirms the same commitment to the blues that inspired his role in the British Invasion. He also has written two autobiographies.

Burdon explained how WAR got its name.

“The name WAR forced people to look at the political environment of that time and obviously it is just as powerful today,” Burdon told billboard.com. “I think people need to be challenged with a reality check, and this reunion is just the thing to help wake people up.”

Unlike WAR, the first version of the Animals was not interracial. Nonetheless, the Ku Klux Klan pelted the band with ice during its first trip to Mississippi,” Burdon told Lake Tahoe Action because the band played so-called black music.

Burdon enthusiastically and voluminously listed his musical influences from America: “James Brown, Ray Charles, Jimmy Witherspoon, Big Joe Turner, Ike and Tina Turner, Jimmy Reed, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGee, Big Bill Bronzy, Louis Armstrong, Louis Jordan, John Cash, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Sam Cooke, JB Lenoir, Sonny Boy Williamson and Elvis Presley.”

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