100 Great Songs From The British Invasion 1963-66: ‘The House Of The Rising Sun’- The Animals. “The House Of The Rising Sun’ was the first American hit by The Animals- with lead singer Eric Burdon. The Animals were consistent hitmakers in this era- charting 14 Top 40 singles in the 1964-68 era. ‘The House Of The Rising Sun’-is a traditional song- sometimes called ‘Rising Sun Blues’- the song was first collected back in the 1930’s in Appalachia. No one knows who wrote the song. Before The Animals- it was recorded by many artists including Woody Guthrie, Josh White, Joan Baez, Nina Simone and others-as a folk song. The most famous covering before The Animals- Bob Dylan covered it on his debut album. The Animals were touring with Chuck Berry in England when they first heard the song. They were looking for something that would stand out- and started to do the song in concert as their closing number. They convinced producer Mickie Most that it had ‘hit potential’- and went into the studio and recorded it – in one take. They were right- the single went to #1 in both the US and UK- and was the only #1 hit in The Animals career. I will be featuring a number of Animals songs over the next few months- thought a good place to start was with their first big one. Bob Dylan when he first heard The Animals version of “The House Of The Rising Sun’- on the car radio- jumped out of the car- banged on the hood- he later said that this is what inspired him to go electric. Critic Dave Marsh has called this the first ‘folk rock hit. Rolling Stone Magazine placed it at #122 in their 500 Greatest Songs Ever list- and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame listed it as one of the 500 Songs Which Shaped Rock and Roll. No argument here.
Single: ‘The House Of The Rising Sun’- The Animals/ Written by- Traditional arranged by Alan Price/ Recorded May 18, 1964/ Time: 4:29/ Produced by Mickie Most/ Released June 19, 1964 UK August 8, 1964 US/ Peaked at #1 in US #1 in UK.
I’ve seen it referred to as the first folk rock hit.
Great song I had no idea of its origins. A glance at Spotify shows a bunch of other versions from the ones you mentioned to more “alternative” takes like the fuzzy distorted guitar version from Frijid Pink to a heavy metal version from Five Finger Death Punch. Can’t beat the keyboards of the Animals version though
This could easily make it onto my all time favorite singles. Just so good.
The Animals had a lot of great ones in a short period of time.
I really like what they and Them did back then. Yes the Animals had a bunch of good ones.
Great pick, Hans, love that song! It also reminds me of my early teenage years when I took guitar lessons. My guitar teacher showed me how to play this tune.
Last but not least, for the gear geeks among us, “The House of the Rising Sun” is a terrific illustration of what a capable keyboarder can do with a Vox Continental. And, damn, Eric Burdon was a killer vocalist!
I agree Burdon one of the top rock vocalists.
If you played in a band in the mid sixties, you had better be able to pull this song off. The guitar riff is simplistic and right on, the Vox organ work is supurb. I guess in a way, it was folk rock meets electric. Good post.
Thank you- are I agree a song every band should have known back then!
A wonderful song!
It surprises me it is a traditional song. Love how they claim it with Burdon’s voice, which is one of the best out there.
A great version that became the template for all versions that came later. You say you’re gonna do a few more critiques on Animals songs? Sign me up!
I am going to do 100 songs on this- I’d say The Animals should have 6-8 themselves!