The History of The Animals, Animals II, Animals III, and The Animals Greatest Hits Show

[This is a concise and factual history of all the Animals bands as acknowledged by past and present members of The Animals, Hilton Valentine's Animals and Animals II. It gives a clear and precise history of The Animals in the UK but it does not cover the history of Eric Burdon's own American versions of The Animals after he moved to the USA]

The Animals 1963 - 1966 (1st Generation)

The original Animals who were famous for their hits in the 1960’s were formed in the North East of England city of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1963 and were known for their distinctive gritty rhythm and blues sound derived from a mix of British pop and American blues. They were also known in the USA as part of the ‘British Invasion’. The Animals were Eric Burdon on vocals, Hilton Valentine on guitar, Chas Chandler on bass, Alan Price on keyboards, and John Steel on drums. The band shot to fame Worldwide with their No1 signature song ‘House Of The Rising Sun’, as well as having many other successful hits including ‘We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place’, ‘I’ts My Life’, ‘I’m Crying’, 'Bring It On Home To Me', and 'Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’.

Following the success of House of The Rising Sun in 1965 Alan Price left the band to follow a solo career and was replaced by Dave Rowberry on keyboards. In February 1966 John Steel left the band and was replaced by Barry Jenkins on drums until the band split in late 1966. Eric Burdon then moved to the USA and along with Jenkins formed the 'psychedelic' band 'Eric Burdon and the New Animals'.

The original line-up had brief comeback tours in 1975 and 1983, and in 1994 The Animals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. Chas Chandler died in 1996, Dave Rowberry died in 2003, and Hilton Valentine died in 2021.


The Animals in 1963, from left to right: Hilton Valentine, Chas Chandler, Eric Burdon, John Steel and Alan Price
The Animals induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 left to right: Alan Price, Hilton Valentine, John Steel and Chas Chandler

Hilton Valentine's Animals / Animals II / The Animals 1994-1995 (2nd Generation Pt.1)

In the UK in 1993, when Hilton Valentine was a member of Tyneside based Rhythm & Blues band The Alligators, he was approached by Peter Barton, an agent from Lancashire in the UK, to see if he would be interested in performing some shows in Germany as The Animals. Hilton liked the idea and quickly set about augmenting the Alligators band with a keyboard player to recreate the original 1960’s Animals sound. Auditions were held at the Pheasant pub in Tynemouth where Hilton, along with original Animals bass player Chas Chandler and original drummer John Steel were present. Following a comprehensive trial run of the Animals songs Chas Chandler decided that local keyboard player Steve Hutchinson (Stevie Hutch) was “The man for the job”. Chas Chandler however declined to become a member of the band due to health problems, but did offer instead to become the manager for the band.

Using the remaining members from The Alligators band, the line-up of Hilton Valentine's new Animals band was complete, and with all of the members living within 10 miles of Newcastle the birth place of the original Animals band. The line-up comprised of original Animal Hilton Valentine on guitar, original Animal John Steel on drums, Robert Kane (aka Robert Robinson) on Vocals, Steve Hutchinson on keyboards, George Fearon on guitar, and Joss Elliott on bass guitar.

 John Steel, who at that time kept in regular contact with Eric Burdon in the USA, contacted Eric Burdon to ask if he would mind if this new band could use 'The Animals' name. Eric replied stating that Hilton and John were both Animals as much as he was, and did not mind so long as there would not be any confusion with his own band that regularly performed in the USA and Germany as Eric Burdon and The Animals. To solve this problem George Fearon suggested that the psuedo name 'Animals II' could be used in those two countries. So with the acceptance of the original members of the band Hilton now had The Animals back on the road again.

This new 2nd generation of The Animals performed its first 'dress rehearsal' show under the name of 'Hilton Valentine’s Animals' on 14th March 1994 at The Pheasant pub in Tynemouth, followed by another show at Bultins in Ayr Scotland. Much larger shows then followed shortly afterwards in the UK and Scandinavia with both Chas Chandler and Eric Burdon’s blessing under the name of 'The Animals'.

Hilton's unmistakable guitar playing and John's unique drumming style, coupled with Robert Kane's uncanny vocal resemblance to Eric Burdon and Steve Hutchinson's playing of the keyboard in the distinctive style of Alan Price undoubtedly made for a very authentic re-creation of The Animals sound, leaving fans in no doubt that The Animals were well and truly back on the road.

In the summer of 1995 after two years of extensive touring in Europe and Scandinavia unrest had unfortunately grown within the band, said in part to be due to the strong Alligators influence in the band. Hilton and John's wish to promote the band's individual identity as 'The Animals' resulted in them looking for replacement band members. Robert Kane and Steve Hutchinson retained their exacting roles however Joss Elliott and George Fearon having heard of the impending split immediately left the band. 

The Animals at this point had a full diary of shows to fulfill so on 28th July 1995 Hilton and John recruited bass player Graham Hill, and guitarist George Whiffen who would go on to tour the UK and Scandinavian performing many shows with the band.

In August 1995 local guitarist Tony Ions was brought in for the recording of the Northern Ireland TV Show "It's only Telly" which was broadcast on 23rd August 1995. This TV show lineup featured Hilton Valentine, John Steel, Robert Kane, Steve Hutchinson, Graham Hill and Tony Ions.

The Alligators in 1993 featuring left to right: Davy Dodsworth, Hilton Valentine, Robert Kane, George Fearon and Joss Elliott
The Animals poster 1994 featuring: John Steel, Hilton Valentine, Robert Kane, George Fearon, Steve Hutchinson and Joss Elliott

The Animals 1993 left to right: Steve Hutchinson, Hilton Valentine, John Steel, George Fearon, Robert Kane, and Joss Elliott

The Animals 1994 left to right: Steve Hutchinson, Hilton Valentine, Robert Kane, John Steel Joss Elliott, George Fearon

The Animals / Animals II 1995 – 2000 (2nd Generation Pt.2)

Later in 1995 Tyneside guitarist Steve Dawson and bass player Martin Bland joined the band as the new full time members alongside Hilton Valentine, John Steel, Steve Hutchinson and Robert Kane. This would turn out to be the longest stable line-up in the history of The Animals.

The band successfully toured and performed throughout the World with concerts as far a field as Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Middle East, Far East, Japan, Europe, and Scandinavia under the name of The Animals, as well as performing successful tours of the USA and Germany as Animals II, cataloging a total of more than 600 shows Worldwide. 

The 1995 - 2000 line up of The Animals also recorded and released many CD's which included new versions of their old hits as well as some new compositions. These included the extremely rare official 1990's 'ANIMALS' CD: 'THE ANIMALS - Interesting Life', which was recorded in October 1996 and released in 1977.  This particular limited release CD has now become a collector’s item.

On 21st November 1996 The Animals appeared live on the British breakfast TV show "GMTV" to promote the upcoming release of the album.

Many further compilation albums were released worldwide using the 1997 recordings but under different album titles and names.


The Animals 'Interesting Life" CD Released in 1997

Animals II 'Greatest Hits" CD Released in 1978
By 1999 the second generation of The Animals had become very popular worldwide with Valentine and Steel citing that the live performances of this particular line-up far exceeded the performances of the original band during the 1960's, and by the end of 1999 the band had a full schedule of high profile shows booked well into the millennium. However constant discusions by the management about bringing earlier 1960's members back into the line-up prompted Robert Kane to leave the band at the end of 1999 to join top UK R&B band Dr Feelgood.
The Animals 1996 featuring left to right: John Steel, Martin Bland, Robert Kane, Steve Dawson, Hilton Valentine, and Steve Hutchinson
The Animals poster and alternative Animals II poster from 1995 - 1999
Video footage of The Animals in 1997

The Animals 2000 - 2001 (2nd Generation Pt.3)

By the end of 1999 The Animals were in high demand and were attracting much higher profile shows and revenues so Hilton and John decided to replace the existing long standing North East line-up of the band with higher profile musicians. 

Long standing keyboard player Steve Hutchinson was replaced by London keyboardist Dave Rowberry who had been a member of The Animals in the 1960's for 18 months after Alan Price left the band. Long standing bass player Martin Bland was replaced by London musician Jim Rodford from 70's band The Kinks. Long standing guitarist Steve Dawson was not included in the new line-up, and the job of new front-man went to singer Tony Liddle (vocalist from Saxon and The Tygers of Pan Tang). 

This was a change that took Hilton's second generation of The Animals into a different direction and was unfortunately relatively short lived, resulting in Hilton Valentine, who was unhappy about some of the new changes, leaving the band in April 2001 to live in the USA.

Hilton Valentine's exit split up the band and marked the end of the second generation of The Animals that spanned the years 1993 to 2001.

The Animals 2000 -2001 featuring Tony Liddle, Jim Rodford, Hilton Valentine, Dave Rowberry and John Steel
The long awaited re-run of 'THE ANIMALS - Interesting Life' CD (previously released in 1997 by the 1996 line up of the band) was re-released under licence in 2000 but under the inaccurate title of 'ANIMALS II - Interesting Life' so as to create a diversion away from the previous 1990's line up of the band and help promote the newer 2000 - 2001 line up as The Animals. 

Following the break up of The Animals in 2001 

[After relocating to America in 2001 to pursue a solo career, Hilton Valentine collaborated with Eric Burdon in his USA based band 'Eric Burdon and The Animals' and performed with him on his 2007 and 2008 tours. In 2008 Hilton continued with his solo career and performed in the USA and UK. In January 2021 Hilton died at the age of 77. Eric Burdon continues to perform around the World with his own USA based band 'Eric Burdon and The Animals']

 [In 2001, manager Peter Barton formed his own band 'Animals & Friends' taking on the role of vocalist and bass player along with John Steel, Dave Rowberry and Lancashire guitarist John E Williamson. Following the sudden death of Dave Rowberry in 2003 Mickey Gallagher took over his role on keyboards. In 2013 Barton and Williamson left the band and they were replaced by Danny Handley on vocals and guitar, and Roberto Ruiz on bass.]

ANIMALS III   2007 - 2020 (3rd Generation)

In 2007 Steve Hutchinson who remained to be the longest serving keyboard player for The Animals toured throughout Europe as The UK Legends and UK Rock Legends performing the Animals hits in the show as a tribute to his previous bands The Animals and Animals II.

A video recorded in 2007 features excerpts from a live concert of the band performing Animals songs at a festival in Poland and a later video in 2001 shows the band performing at festivals in Europe. Both of these videos were later used as promotional videos for the band.

In September 2014 Steve Hutchinson devised, created and set up a brand new band naming it ANIMALS III as a continuation of his former bands The Animals and ANIMALS II. For the band's promotion he enlisted former Animals vocalist Tony Liddle who had taken over the roll from Robert Kane in 2000. Former Animals bass player Graham Hill was not available at that time so he recruited former Animals II bass player Martin Bland, along with former Animals/Animals II guitarist George Fearon. The new band also included Mad Dog on drums from the UK Legends band.

As soon as the names of the proposed band members had been established two years of promotion for the band followed until the band performed at its first show in Denmark in 2016. By this time Tony Liddle had left the line up so bass player Martin Bland took up the role of vocals alongside additional guitarist Graham Hunter from the UK Legends band. In 2015 drummer Paul Elliott from the UK Legends band had also replaced Mad Dog in the proposed line up.

Once on the road, just like the previous Animals and Animals II bands, Animals III quickly became recognised as one of the most energetic British R&B bands touring in Europe and were widely accepted on stage whether performing at Rock Festivals or Blues Festivals, and even in smaller blues clubs and Theatres.

In 2016 Drummer Mad Dog re-joined the band replacing Paul Elliott.

In 2017 guitarist Steve Lamb from the band Tygers of Pan Tang joined the band replacing guitarist Graham Hunter.

Robert Kane, George Fearon, Martin Bland and Mad Dog also continued to perform together as The Aligators up until 2018.


The UK Legends performing Animals songs at a festival in Poland 2007 which was used as a promotional video for Animals III

The UK Legends performing Animals songs at a festival in Czesc in 2011 also used as a promotional video for ANIMALS III

UK Rock Legends performing Animals songs in 2014 

Animals III in 2014

Animals III proposed line up in 2014 left to right: Steve Hutchinson, Martin Bland, Tony Liddle, Mad Dog and George Fearon

Animals III in 2015
Animals III proposed line up in 2015 left to right: Steve Hutchinson, Mad Dog, Martin Bland, Graham Hunter and George Fearon
Animals III in 2016
Animals III in Denmark in 2016 left to right: Paul Elliott, George Fearon, Steve Hutchinson, Martin Bland and Graham Hunter
Animals III in 2017
Animals III photoshoot in 2017 left to right: Steve Hutchinson, George Lamb, Martin Bland, George Fearon and Mad Dog

In 2019 drummer George Defty from the band Geordie joined the ANIMALS III line up replacing Mad Dog.

In July 2021 Martin Bland, Steve Lamb and George Defty left the Animals III band to form their own tribute band under the name of Animals Legacy with keyboardist Norman Seabroke.

In July 2021 Steve Hutchinson announced a brand new line up for the Amimals III band. This line up comrises of Howard Baker on vocals, Graham Hill (previously from The Animals and Animals II) on bass, Graham Hunter (previously from Animals III) on guitar, George Waters on drums, and Steve Hutchinson (previously from Hilton Valentine's Animals, The Animals and Animals II) on keyboards.

The Animals III band continues to tour today throughout the UK and Europe with this line up and they perform their tribute shows under the banner of the Animals Greatest Hits Show.

The Animals III band is now touring and performing as

THE ANIMALS GREATEST HITS SHOW
Animals III 2021
Present day band left to right:
Graham Hill, Steve Hutchinson, Graham Hunter, George Waters and Howard Baker

The Animals / Animals II / Animals III Timeline in the UK from 1963 - 2021

The band with it's hard-driving Rhythm & Blues and distinctive 'Animals' sound is available for concerts in any country of the World and can be booked directly by contacting

TheatreBands.com

Email: info@theatrebands.com

or through any of the agents shown on the Contacts page of this website


The original Animals - Created in Tyneside in 1963 - 1966

The Animals / Animals II - Created in Tyneside in 1993 - 2001

Animals III  - Created in Tyneside in 2014


The Animals Greatest Hits Show - created in Tyneside in 2019


to continue the heritage of The Animals

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The name ANIMALS III has been officially registered on the bandname.com worldwide band name registry since 2014 to Steve Hutchinson.