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 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 Animals that 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 US 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 big 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. Unfortunately Chas Chandler passed away two years later in 1996.

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 1993-1995 (2nd Generation)

In the UK in 1993, when Hilton 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 re-create 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 would also be present. Following a comprehensive trial run of the Animals songs Chas Chandler decided that local keyboard player Steve Hutchinson was in his own words “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 the line-up of Hilton's new Animals band would now be complete with all of the members living within 10 miles of Newcastle, the birth place of the original Animals band. The line-up would comprise of original Animal Hilton Valentine on guitar, original Animal John Steel on drums, Steve Hutchinson on keyboards, Robert Kane (Robert Robinson) on Vocals, 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, asked Eric if he was okay about the new band using 'The Animals' name, with Eric Burdon replying to him that Hilton and John were both Animals as much as he was, and he did not mind so long as there was not any confusion with his own band that regularly performed in the USA and Germany. To solve this problem George Fearon suggested that the name Animals II could be used in those two countries. 

Hilton now had his band on the road with the acceptance of the original members of the Animals, and this new 2nd generation of Animals band would have its first show on 14th March 1993 at The Pheasant pub in Tynemouth under the name of 'Hilton Valentine’s Animals', and would then shortly afterwards perform at much larger shows in the UK and Scandinavia with both Chas Chandler and Eric Burdon’s blessing as 'The Animals'. It would also perform as 'Animals II' when in Germany

Hilton's unmistakable guitar playing, along with John Steel's unique drumming style and Steve Hutchinson's commitment to playing in the distinctive style of Alan Price was noted to be the nucleus of the band, this coupled with Robert Kane's uncanny vocal resemblance to Eric Burdon 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.

Unfortunately after two years of extensive touring throughout Europe and Scandinavia unrest began to grow in the band, said in part to be due to the strong Alligators influence, with Hilton and John deciding that the band should have dedicated 'Animals' members, so in the summer of 1995 they started looking for a replacement guitarist, bass player and keyboard player. Auditions to find a suitable replacement keyboard player were unsuccessful so Steve Hutchinson retained his job, however Joss Elliott and George Fearon having heard of the impending split immediately left the band. 

As the band still had a diary of shows to fulfill the band would use a local temporary bass player Fred Hill, and a local temporary guitarist George Whiffen for the remaining shows in the UK and Scandinavia. At one point the band used another local temporary guitarist Tony Ions for a TV show that was recorded in Belfast in August 1995.

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 – 1999 (2nd Generation)

In October 1995, having been introduced to the band by keyboard player Steve Hutchinson, it was decided that Tyneside guitarist Steve Dawson and fellow bass player Martin Bland would join Hilton, John, Steve and Robert in the band as the new full time members, and this would become the permanent line-up of The Animals for the following five years making it the longest stable line-up of any of The Animals' bands. 

The band successfully toured and performed throughout the World including places 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 successful tours of the USA and Germany using the name Animals II, cataloging a total of more than 600 shows Worldwide. 

The band also recorded new versions of the old hits including some new compositions that were released on many different CD’s including ‘ANIMALS II Greatest Hits’ in 1997 which has now become a rare collector’s item, and also 'THE ANIMALS - Interesting Life ' which was released in 1998. Many further compilation albums would be released Worldwide using the 1997 recordings but under different album titles.

By the end of 1999 the band had become very popular Worldwide with Valentine and Steel citing that the live performances of this particular line-up far exceeded those of the original band during the 1960's. The band had a full schedule of high profile shows booked well into the millennium but constant conversations by the management of reinstating earlier 1960's members 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.  

Animals II 'Greatest Hits" CD Released in 1977

The Animals 'Interesting Life" CD Released in 1998 

The Animals 1996 featuring left to right: John Steel, Martin Bland, Robert Kane, Steve Dawson, Hilton Valentine, and Steve Hutchinson
The Animals and Animals II posters from 1995 - 1999
Video footage of The Animals in 1997

The Animals 1999 - 2001 (2nd Generation)

Because the band was at that time now in high demand and was attracting higher profile shows and revenues, the band’s management eventually persuaded Valentine and Steel to replace the existing long standing line-up with higher profile musicians intending to make the band into a 'Musical Super-Group'. 

It was decided that long standing bass player Martin Bland would be replaced by London musician Jim Rodford from the 1970's band The Kinks. Long standing keyboard player Steve Hutchinson would be replaced by Londoner Dave Rowberry who had been a member of The Animals for 18 months in the 1960's. Long standing guitarist Steve Dawson would not be included in the new line-up. The job of new front-man would go to singer Tony Liddle (vocalist from Saxon and The Tygers of Pan Tang). 

This was a change that would take the second generation of The Animals into a different direction and was unfortunately relatively short lived, resulting in Hilton Valentine, who was unhappy about the new changes, leaving the band in 2001 to live in the USA. His exit would split up the band marking the end of the second generation of The Animals.

The Animals 1999 -2001 featuring Tony Liddle, Jim Rodford, Hilton Valentine, Dave Rowberry and John Steel

Following the break up of The Animals in 2001 

[After relocating to America in 2001 to pursue a solo career, Hilton Valentine would in 2006 join Eric Burdon in his USA based band 'Eric Burdon and The Animals' and perform with him on his 2007 and 2008 tours. In 2008 Hilton would leave this band to once again pursue his solo career. Eric Burdon continues to perform around the World with his own band 'Eric Burdon and The Animals']

 [In 2001, manager Peter Barton would form his own band 'Animals & Friends' taking on the role of vocalist and bass player alongside John Steel, Dave Rowberry and Lancashire guitarist John E Williamson. Following the sudden death of Dave Rowberry in 2003 Mickey Gallagher (who was a temporary dep for Dave Rowberry in 1965) would take over his role on keyboards.  In 2013 an application made by John Steel to trademark 'The Animals' name would be overruled following a successful appeal by Eric Burdon.

ANIMALS III   2007 - 2015 (3rd Generation)

From 2007 to present day Martin Bland and Steve Hutchinson  continue their commitment to The Animals and Animals II by touring and performing the hits of the Animals throughout Europe as Animals III.

Martin Bland, Robert Kane, George Fearon and Mad Dog would also continue to tour together in the UK as The Aligators.

The Animals III band would be quickly recognised once again as one of the most energetic British R&B bands touring in Europe that would always be widely accepted whether performing at Rock Festivals and Blues Festivals, or in smaller Blues clubs and Theatres.

A video recorded in 2007 shows excerpts from a live concert of the band at a festival in Poland. Later videos show the band performing at a festivals in Europe.

In 2015, Tony Liddle former lead singer from The Animals during 1999-2001 would briefly also join the line up of Animals III

In 2015 George Fearon the original guitarist from Hilton Valentine's Animals, The Animals, and Animals II would also join the line-up of Animals III, almost 20 years after leaving The Animals in 1995. 

In 2019 drummer George Defty from the UK chart band Geordie would replace Mad Dog on drums.

Animals III in 2014-2015 left to right: Steve Hutchinson, Martin Bland, Tony Liddle, Mad Dog (Aligators) and George Fearon

Animals III at a festival in Poland 2007 

Animals III at a festival in Czesc in 2011 

Animals III at a festival in the UK 2014 

The Animals , Animals II, and Animals III Timeline 1963 - 2019

The Animals III band Newcastle
The ANIMALS III band 2017 left to right:
Steve Hutchinson, Steve Lamb, Martin Bland, George Fearon and Mad Dog

ANIMALS III   2015 - present

Now in 2019, over 18 years since the break up of The Animals and Animals II in 2001, three of the original and founder band members of 'Hilton Valentine's ANIMALS', 'THE ANIMALS', and 'ANIMALS II' (who between them were ultimately responsible for the successful reincarnation of The Animals in the 1990's with Hilton Valentine and John Steel) still all continue to perform and tour together as Animals III, keeping the 40 year heritage of the band based within it's Tyneside roots. They continue to pursue the legacy of The Animals with the 3rd Generation of the band as Animals III and currently perform around the World with:




(Bass player from The Animals / Animals II) 


 (Keyboard player from Hilton Valentine’s Animals / The Animals / Animals II)


(Guitarist from Hilton Valentines Animals / The Animals / Animals II)


(Guitarist from Animals and Moore)


 (Drummer from Geordie)

The Animals III 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



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

The original Animals - Created in Newcastle in 1963

The Animals / Animals II - Created in Newcastle in 1993

Animals III  - Created in Newcastle in 2007
to continue the heritage of The Animals and Animals II