He was a founding member of the Animals, a band originally formed in Newcastle in the early 1960s. By 1966 the other members had left, and the band was reformed as Eric Burdon and the New Animals. This incarnation lasted until 1970 when Burdon formed a new band, War. Burdon quit the group in 1971 for a solo career, although War continued without him.
Burdon reunited briefly with the other Animals in 1976 and 1983, but the band broke up again after both reunions.