Story by Fred Rudofsky
“Take the elevator down one floor. Hurry, the meet and greet has already begun!” the merchandise vendor tells me just after I have purchased a gatefold copy of Eric Burdon’s new LP, ‘Til Your River Runs Dry. So much for thinking there will be time to grab a cold beverage. I sprint to the nearest elevator seconds before its doors close.
One flight down, I exit to see approximately 20 fans queued up within two velvet ropes. Many are clutching Burdon’s recent CD. Some have old vinyl albums by the Animals; one appears to have dug up a dog-eared paperback copy of “The Rolling Stone Guide to Music.” All anticipate an autograph and a photo opportunity with Eric Burdon, who is dressed in black from head to toe. A large peace sign adorns his t-shirt, and he is wearing sunglasses tonight. A vintage bottle of red wine is set at the table to his left, and his glass appears half full.
Initially, a few get their items signed, and yet things quickly get weird. Event organizers walk down the line, telling those of us who are waiting that there will be absolutely no autographs. Their tone is terse, yet absurdly so. They say something about the headlining set being on a time constraint; meanwhile, Burdon accepts a Sharpie pen, signs another album, poses for a photo. He is gregarious and smiling – he is in no hurry. The event staff reiterates the “no autographs” directive with the finesse of Dean Wormer admonishing the hapless pledges in “Animal House.”