10 Facts About ‘The House Of The Rising Sun’ You Might Not Know About

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The Animals were one of the important bands of the 60s: their records introduced among us a taste of voices and rhythm & blues. We look back at the 10 Facts About ‘The House Of The Rising Sun’ You Might Not Know About:

A Book Came Out Because Of It

Besides, being the biggest hit, The House of the Rising Sun (1964), was easy to play: that’s how many beginner guitarists began. But we ignored the turbulent evolution of the subject, a book: Chasing the rising sun, by Ted Anthony.

Rising Sun Blues

“House Of The Rising Sun” is a traditional North American folk song, sometimes even called “Rising Sun Blues”. It covers a life story that went wrong in New Orleans. Like many other folk classics, it’s not clear who the composer is. Many stories say that it was inspired by English music from the 16th or 17th centuries, and others even say that it refers to a decorative insignia from the time of Louis XIV, which came from the sunburn brought to the United States by the French.

The Animals Never Wrote It

Regardless of who actually composed it, there are reports that it was already sung by miners in the year 1905. But it was only recorded in the studio in the year 1933 (still under the name “Rising Sun Blues”) by Clarence “Tom” Ashley and Gwen Foster. Artist Ashley says that he learned it from his grandfather, meaning the music actually dates back to the 1930s. The following recording of this song dates back to 1937, by Georgia Turner, daughter of a miner in Kentucky and was called “ The Rising Sun Blues”.

Josh White Recorded His Version

A few years later, in 1947, Josh White recorded a version adding his own words, which would be used a lot in the 60s versions, the versions that would become more famous. This version of White was released on Mercury Records only in 1950. The best-known name for the song was Huddie “Lead Belly” in October 1948, when he recorded it for the second time, this time under the name “ The House Of The Rising Sun” (the first time, in 1944, he had recorded it under the name “In New Orleans”).

It Had Many Versions Before The Animals

In the 1950s, the song began to become popular with great names in American music. Glenn Yarbrough recorded it in 1957 on Elektra Records, Pete Seeger did the same on Folkways Records a year later. Frankie Laine, in 1959, recorded a version under the name “New Orleans”. Between 1959 and 1960, several artists would record versions under different names.

Mid 1961 When It Hit The Spotlight

But it was in mid-1961 that a world-famous artist first played “The House Of The Rising Sun” when Bob Dylan recorded it for his first album which came out in March 1962. The note said that Dylan had been taught by Dave Van Ronk how to play this song.

The Most Famous Version

In 1964, The Animals recorded the version that many know and is probably the most famous. Eric Burdon said he first heard it in Newcastle, England, the city where the band was created, sung by Johnny Handle. The version, much praised by Bob Dylan, chronicles the point of view of a man (rather than a woman in previous versions) who lived a bad life and had a father who was gambling and drinking too much (unlike the previous versions where he was reported as a good person).


It Was Part of the first “British invasion”

The song, in the band’s version of The Animals, was very well received, and as rated in the 60s: a transatlantic hit. It reached the top of the British charts in July 1964 and two months later the top of the US charts, where it stayed for 3 weeks and was part of the first “British invasion” with the Beatles.

Frijid Pink Version

Still, in the 60s, the song would gain another famous version with Frijid Pink, a Detroit band that recorded it in 1969. The time of the song was different from that used by The Animals and still had the use of guitar distortion and frantic drums. Frijid Pink’s single was certified gold in the United States and was successful in several European countries.

An Inspiration To Many Artists That Came After

Other bands have recorded versions of this song over the years, and few people who are interested in international music don’t know about it. It has been an inspiration to many artists, for example, Noel Gallagher, famous guitarist of Oasis, who said it was the first song he learned to play on the guitar. Regardless of whether you like the song or not, everyone respects the story of a song that will be forever on radio and playlists around the world.