Dave Rowberry

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Dave Rowberry was either one of the most fortunate of second-tier rock musicians in mid-'60s England, or one of the worst hard-luck cases of his era. He got to play on some of the most well-known singles…
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Dave Rowberry was either one of the most fortunate of second-tier rock musicians in mid-'60s England, or one of the worst hard-luck cases of his era. He got to play on some of the most well-known singles by the Animals, and the best albums in the group's history, yet he's always been treated in most accounts of the group's history as almost an afterthought, in the shadow of his predecessor in the group, Alan Price. A musician since his teens, he'd been too good at the keyboards to complete the degree that he'd sought at the University of Newcastle. Instead, he built a reputation around the city playing piano and organ in various jazz and blues bands before joining the Mike Cotton Jazzmen, as they were then known, in 1962. It was as a member of that group, renamed the Mike Cotton Sound, that he played backup to performers such as Stevie Wonder, the Four Tops, Solomon Burke, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Tom Jones, and P.J. Proby.

Rowberry joined the Animals in May of 1965, following Alan Price's sudden decision to leave their lineup. The group completed one brief tour of Scandanavia with Mickey Gallagher (a future member of Arc, Ian Dury's Blockheads, and the Clash) filling in, and then Rowberry came in. Although he is often overlooked in favor of Price by virtue of the latter's reputation, and was overlooked when the group was inducted into the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame, Rowberry actually strengthened their lineup at the time -- he was a solid keyboard player and, according to the recorded evidence and interviews cited in Sean Egan's 2001 book Animal Tracks, a better backup singer than Price. He also played on several major hits, including "We've Gotta Get Out of This Place," "It's My Life," and "Don't Bring Me Down," and arranged the version of "See See Rider" that the band enjoyed a Top Ten U.S. hit with in late 1966. He also played on Animalism, which is usually regarded as the best (or one of the two best) albums in the group's history; and, ironically, it was Rowberry, not Price, who was depicted in the lineup on the cover photo of The Best of the Animals, easily the biggest selling LP in their history in America (and represented on CD since the late '80s).

Following the breakup of the original Animals (or what was left of them, John Steel having already exited) in September of 1966, after a month and a half U.S. tour, Rowberry became a session player, maintaining a relatively low profile for the next few years. In the mid-'90s, Rowberry joined his former bandmates Hilton Valentine and John Steel in the Animals II, a reformed version of the original group. Fans of the band tried in vain to get Rowberry into the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame alongside the rest of the group. Rowberry passed away of an apparent heart attack on June 6, 2003.