Years: 1961 - present
Styles: Blues Rock, Pop Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Rhythm and Blues, Rock and Roll
Alan Price - Grand piano, Keyboards, Organ, Piano, Polymoog, Synthesizer, Vocals (in band: 1961 - present)
Dave Markee - Bass Guitar
Clive Thacker - Drums
Colin Green - Guitar
John Gordon - Bass Guitar
Theodore Thunder - Drums, Vocals
Rick Morcombe - Guitar, Vocals
Rod Hendry - Guitar
Bill Smith - Bass Guitar
David Rose - Backing vocals, Keyboards, Synthesizer
Steve Grant - Backing vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Lead guitar, Synthesizer
Pete Grant - Backing vocals, Bass Guitar
Laurence Cottle - Bass Guitar
Russell Gilbrook - Drums, Percussion
Kevin Keating - Guitar
Alan Price was born on April 19, 1942, in Fatfield, County Durham, Northeast England. Alan was a natural, though largely self-taught musician, who began playing the old family piano at the age of seven. By his early teens he had become quite accomplished on piano, organ, guitar and bass, so it was clear early on that he was exceptionally gifted. Initially inspired by the skiffle craze, which swept over England in the 1950s, he switched to rock and roll during his grammar school days, due to his fascination with the popular American artist, Jerry Lee Lewis.
By the late 50s, word had gotten out that he was one of the most impressive young musicians in Newcastle-on-Tyne. At one time or another, Price found himself playing alongside one or more of all his later Animals colleagues, in groups like The Pagans, The Kansas City Five, The Black Diamonds, and The Kontours. He eventually formed his own band in 1961, which he named The Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo. Initially the personnel was fairly fluid, but within 12 months they had established a settled lineup of Eric Burdon (vocals), Hilton Valentine (guitar), Chas Chandler (bass), John Steel (drums), and Price on keyboards. Along with the move to London in January 1964, the band’s name was changed to The Animals.
The band themselves never cared for their debut single, a commercial arrangement of a traditional folk song off Bob Dylan’s first LP, nonetheless "Baby Let Me Take You Home" charted. But their second single put them on the map. Price’s hypnotic arrangement of the band's epic version of "The House of the Rising Sun" was released in June 1964 and went on to become a worldwide smash, topping both the UK and US charts. Selling several millions copies, the record propelled the group to undreamed-of success. The Animals became the first British group after The Beatles to chart a Number One single in America. "I’m Crying" (written by Price and Burdon on the fly), "Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood", and "Bring It On Home To Me" followed in short order, and by the spring of 1965 they were established as one of the biggest, most popular R&B bands in the world.
However, by this time the stress of the group’s whirlwind success had brought Alan Price to the breaking point. A complex, moody character, prone to prolonged bouts of bleak introversion, he’d always somehow been slightly estranged from his colleagues. Alan Price publicly announced that he had left The Animals on May 5, 1965. The official line given for his abrupt departure was his fear of flying, which was (and still is) essentially true: tours of the US, Australia and the Far East had taken their toll on him.
Price moved back down to London, played on several more sessions, rediscovered his old enthusiasm, and gradually assembled a new band. Their lineup comprised Price (vocals/keyboards), Clive Burrows and Steve Gregory (saxes), John Walters (trumpet), Pete Kirtley (guitar), Rod ‘Boots’ Slade (bass), and ‘Little’ Roy Mills (drums). Although their early press releases suggested that Price’s new group would be a jazzy, strictly non-commercial outfit, their recorded endeavors soon proved otherwise. Signing with Decca Records and working in tandem with arranger Ivor Raymonde, Price proceeded to unleash a truly remarkable body of work. The Alan Price Set subsequently debuted in September 1965 with a punchy revival of the old Chuck Jackson US R&B hit "Any Day Now".
Oddly enough, material proved to be something of a problem initially. The Set’s live ‘set’ comprised mainly contemporary Soul and R&B numbers with the occasional Ray Charles oldie thrown in for good measure (a combination that would eventually provide the formula for Alan Price Set's first LP, "The Price To Play"). Six months would pass before their next single, but when it came, Price’s compelling yet highly-commercial arrangement of Screaming Jay Hawkins’ "I Put A Spell On You", certainly put the Alan Price Set on the map. Revered to this day as one of the finest British blues recordings ever made, it has remained a highly-requested number by Alan Price fans the world over.
Hot on its heels came a romping revival of the old show tune, "Hi Lili Hi Lo", which also made the UK Top 20, peaking at No. 11 that summer. However, his next single, "Willow Weep For Me" didn’t fare quite as well. In terms of chart action, 1967 would prove to be Price’s peak year. He registered his two biggest hits to date with Randy Newman’s "Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear" (which reached No. 4 in April) and his own satirical composition "The House That Jack Built" (which also reached No. 4 in August). He also got rave reviews for his second album, "A Price On His Head", a set of songs which concentrated on contemporary songwriters like Dylan and the aforementioned Newman.
He moved to Decca’s Deram subsidiary for his first US solo release, an engaging revival of an old Geordie song, "Trimdon Grange Explosion",which gave an indication of the musical direction he would take in the early 70s. He returned to Decca for the self-penned "Sunshine And Rain", completing his contractual obligations.
He then began a partnership with fellow-blues keyboardist and old chum, Georgie Fame, which gave birth to a hit single, "Rosetta" (which reached No. 11 in 1971), a highly-rated album ("Price And Fame Together"), their own television series (The Price Of Fame), and regular appearances on many others.
It was during one of the duo’s road tours that Malcolm MacDowell and Lindsay Anderson approached Alan about composing the music for the legendary cult film, "O Lucky Man" (in which he also appeared as himself). The phenomenal success of this project earned Price a BAFTA award, an Oscar nomination, and yielded his first US chart album.
By now his own recordings were becoming increasingly introspective, and his next major project was the largely autobiographical "Between Today And Yesterday". Feted as his finest work, it gave Alan his first UK chart album, reaching No. 9. The album included the massive hit single, "Jarrow Song", which reached No. 6 in 1974. It also spawned an in-depth TV documentary.
In 1975, his follow-up LP was entitled "Metropolitan Man", and it included some stellar songwriting on "Fools Gold", "Nobody Can" and "The Drinker’s Curse". Taking a further leap into acting, he starred in the film "Alfie Darling" (released as "Oh, Alfie" in the US), winning the Most Promising New British Actor award. (Price also wrote the music for the film.) He documented some of his best solo work to date in a live concert, which was released as a double live LP, "Performing Price", and as a television special.
Price moved to Jet Records in 1977 and recorded a series of successful albums throughout the rest of the decade, including "Alan Price" (1977) and "England My England" (1978). Two hit singles from the above LPs, "Just For You" and "Baby Of Mine", respectively, did well on the UK singles charts. In 1980, he crossed the big pond to record an unusual album in Los Angeles: entitled "Rising Sun", it included a reworking of the song "The House Of The Rising Sun", which picked up quite a bit of air play in the UK. In 1981, he recorded a memorable live album, "A Rock And Roll Night At The Royal Court", on his own label, Key Records. Other LPs from the 80s included "Geordie Roots & Branches" (1983) and "Travelling Man" (1986), which were both well-received.
During the 80s, Price had gotten back to composing musicals once again, writing and appearing in Andy Capp and Who’s A Lucky Boy?. He also continued writing for movies with scores for "Britannia Hospital" and "The Plague Dogs".
In 1989, Alan released "Liberty", a new album of self-penned songs which focused on the state of the troubled world he saw around him. In the 90s, he teamed up with two old friends, Zoot Money and Bobby Tench to form Alan Price and the Electric Blues Company. The band toured extensively and recorded a fine album, "A Gigster’s Life For Me", which was released in 1995.
On January 19, 1994, The Animals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Alan Price made the flight to New York City with his fellow band members to receive the prestigious award.
The turn of the (new) century found Price still hard at work, performing his well-received show "An Evening with Alan Price" around the UK. An excellent compilation and overview of his life work, entitled "Geordie Boy", was issued on CD in 2001. And in 2002, he released a self-produced CD, "Based On A True Story", which showcased a group of new songs as original, personal and emotionally touching as the ones he had written for "O Lucky Man" and "Between Today And Yesterday" almost 30 years earlier.
Price continues to write, record, and perform regularly throughout Europe.
© Boar 2011 - 2019