Micky Gallagher

THE Animals' version of House of the Rising Sun may be an all-time favourite of Prime Minister Tony Blair's but Alan Price, the keyboard player who made a fortune from it, apparently hated it.

At least that's what the man who replaced him in The Animals, Micky Gallagher, says.

Last week Tony Blair revealed that the number - a chart-topping hit for The Animals in 1964 and the first song he learned to play on the guitar - is his personal favourite number one.

But Gallagher, who rejoined The Newcastle R&B legends last year after a 39-year break and will be playing with them when they perform at Mr Kyps in Lower Parkstone tonight, told me: "When Alan left the band there was bad feeling about House of the Rising Sun."

Gallagher, who also works with Ian Dury's former backing band The Blockheads, said that Price was upset by the band's arrangement of the traditional song. He was so incensed that he walked out on the recording session.

"Apparently he didn't want that arpeggio guitar and stormed out, but when he came back the band had already recorded it," said Gallagher.

He added that Price reluctantly put his organ part on to the recording and then, in a move that would cause rancour within the band for years to come, the management gave him the sole credit: "Traditional Arrangement Price."

"The manager said there wasn't enough room on the record label to put everyone's name but not to worry because when the cheque comes in it would all be split," remembers Gallagher,

But when the cheque finally arrived, on the eve of a Scandanavian tour, Alan Price had decided to leave the band. The band was pretty mad with him I can tell you."

Gallagher knows better than most because he was chosen as a last minute replacement. He was just 18 at the time and had been making a name for himself playing with the R&B band The Chosen Few in Newcastle's Club A Go Go.

Suddenly he found himself headhunted by The Animals.

He was taken home to find his birth certificate and, having been equipped with a passport and a toothbrush, sent out on the road.

"It was interesting, a massive learning curve," he says.

"The Animals were huge at the time. They were one of the big three - The Stones, The Beatles and The Animals.

"It didn't get much better than that.

"It was great fun but they were also the first dysfunctional band. It taught me quite a lot."

After the Scandanavian trip, Gallagher, who would go on to record with The Clash and the Eurythmics, was replaced by long-term band member Dave Rowberry.

Ironically it was Rowberry's death at the age of 62 last year that led to him being asked to rejoin the band.

As for The Animals' relationship with Price, he says: "A lot of water's gone under the bridge. Let's just say that these days they talk but they agree to disagree."

The Animals play Mr Kyps in Lower Parkstone January 27. Telephone 01202 748945.

© Jeremy Miles 2022