War

  • Funk band formed in 1969 from Long Beach California. The original members were Eric Burdon (lead vocals), Howard Scott (guitars, vocals), Lee Oskar (harmonica, vocals), Thomas “Papa Dee” Allen (percussion, vocals), Charles Miller (saxophone, vocals), B.B. Dickerson (bass guitar and vocals), Leroy “Lonnie” Jordan (keyboards, vocals), and Harold Ray Brown (drums, vocals). All of the members were songwriters for the group.
  • As 16 year olds, Scott and Brown formed a band called The Creoles, playing at high school dances and small clubs. Miller, Dickerson and Jordan joined a few years later, and then Oskar and Allen joined. They enjoyed a diverse style of music – jazz, funk, R&B and rock – that was prevalent in Southern California in the mid 60s. They recorded several singles on a local record label. In 1968, they changed their name to Nightshift, and started performing with Deacon Jones – Jones fancied himself a vocalist as well as an actor and LA Rams football star.
  • In 1969, record producer Jerry Goldstein saw them performing at a club in North Hollywood, and he liked their sound. Burdon had recently left the group The Animals, and was open to another project. Goldstein connected Burdon with the rest of the band, and they began to perform as Eric Burdon and War.
  • Goldstein got them signed to a record label, and in 1970, they released their debut album, Eric Burdon Declares “War”. The album reached #18 on the Billboard 200 album chart, with the single Spill The Wine peaking at #3 on the Hot 100. They toured throughout the U.S. and Europe that year – notably, their concert in London in September is notorious as it was the last public performance by Jimi Hendrix, who joined them onstage for the final 35 minutes of the show, and was found dead the next day.
  • A second album was released in 1970, and Burdon chose to leave the group in the middle of their European tour. War continued on without Burdon. They released 2 albums in 1971 – All Day Music was a modest success, with the single Slippin’ Into Darkness slipping into the Top 20.
  • 1972 was their turning point. They released the album The World Is A Ghetto, which became the best selling album of the year, and was ranked #444 on Rolling Stones’ Greatest Albums list. The title track peaked at #7 on the Hot 100, and the second single from the record, The Cisco Kid, ended up at #2.
  • Their next 2 albums also were successful. Deliver The Word from 1973 included the hit Gypsy Man, and 1975’s Why Can’t We Be Friends had 2 top 10 hits – the title track and Low Rider. Low Rider was their only #1 song on the Billboard R&B chart (it peaked at #7 on the Hot 100 chart). Both are signature songs for the group.
  • Their final top 10 hit was Summer, released in 1976 and included on a Greatest Hits album. Albums released in 1976 and 1977 continued to sell with their fans, but only 1 song, Galaxy, barely reached the Top 40. By 1999, Dickerson and Miller had left the group, replaced by new members. Six albums released from 1979 to 1985 were largely unnoticed. They had little activity for several years, and in 1993 they reformed with their surviving members (without Burdon) to record an album, Peace Sign, which did not sell.
  • They continued to tour, and in 1996, most of the members tried to break from their long-time producer Goldstein. Goldstein owned the trademark to the “War” band name, and he would not allow them to use it. Instead, Brown, Oskar, Scott and Dickerson started a new band, called Lowrider Band, playing War songs while performing – they occasionally perform today. Meanwhile, Jordan opted to remain with Goldstein, and he continues to perform with War as the only original member, with a full tour schedule.
  • Growing up in the early 70s meant listening to War songs on the radio on a regular basis. They were fun, with lots of funky percussion, hooting and hollering – great party music in the day. Here’s the video for Low Rider – made before music videos were made. This song is so much fun!

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