June 6, 2003 – David Eric “Dave” Rowberry was born on July 4, 1940 in Mapperley, Nottinghamshire, England. Rowberry began his musical career at the University of Newcastle and began playing piano and the keyboards with various blues and jazz bands before joining the ‘Mike Cotton Jazzmen’ and backup performers to the likes of Solomon Burke, P.J. Proby, and the Four Tops.
The Animals were already one of the major British Invasion groups in May 1965 when founding keyboardist Alan Price suddenly left due to fear of flying and other issues with frontman Eric Burdon and bass player Chas Chandler whose connection to impressario/agent for Jimi Hendrix put uncertainty into the band’s future. According to lead singer Eric Burdon, Rowberry, while considered a good musician, was chosen partly because of his passing physical resemblance to Price. On the other hand, Burdon’s crony Zoot Money claims that he was approached first (no reason was given why he declined!!), and Rowberry only selected as a second choice.
In any event, Rowberry played many of the group’s big hits, including “We Gotta Get Out of This Place”, “It’s My Life”, “Don’t Bring Me Down”, “Inside-Looking Out”, and “See See Rider”. For a number of songs, including multi platinum hit CC Rider, Rowberry was credited as the arranger. He was also prominent on Animalisms/Animalization, often considered one of the most consistent albums of the group’s recording career. He also sang backing vocals and did some occasional songwriting for the group.
The original incarnation of The Animals collapsed in September 1966, and Rowberry became a session musician; he was not part of the Eric Burdon and The Animals group of the late 1960s. He also did reunite a few times on projects with his bandmates the Mike Cotton Sound as well. The most notable one was The Kinks album, Everybody’s in Show-Biz. Rowberry played on the single “Celluloid Heroes” and some keyboard instruments on the album. He also appeared with the Kinks on television during this time on the song, “Supersonic Rocket Ship”. Rowberry also played on many albums by blues singer Dana Gillespie in the 1980s and 1990s.
When the first incarnation Animals reformed in December 1968 and 1976, only Price without Rowberry was included. When a second keyboardist was added to the original group’s third reunion in 1983 to early 1984, it was Money and not Rowberry. When The Animals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, again, only the original five members including Price were honored, despite the attempts by some fans to include Rowberry (as well as Barry Jenkins, another later member of the “first” lineup) inducted alongside them. Their efforts were unsuccessful. Rowberry was present at the May 2001 reunion concert on Burdon’s birthday, along with Eric Burdon, John Steel and Hilton Valentine.
In the mid 1990s, Rowberry joined former founding bandmates Hilton Valentine on guitar and John Steel on drums in The Animals II, one of several different Animals spin-off bands of that time; during that decade he also worked as free-lance musician in the London jazz scene and was a member of Shut Up Frank, with Noel Redding, Dave Clarke and Mick Avory of The Kinks. They toured extensively and recorded several albums, which are still available on Mouse Records.
Rowberry died in London of an ulcer haemorrhage on 6 June 2003, at the age of 62.