The year was 1969, and these 'kids' had the nerve to carry the name WAR at a time when peace was the slogan in an anti-Vietnam America. "Our mission was to spread a message of brotherhood and harmony". Original Band Members included; Lonnie Jordan - singer/keyboardist, Howard Scott - guitars/ vocal, Lee Oskar - harmonica, B.B. Dickerson – bass vocals, Harold Brown - drums/ vocals, the late Thomas "Papa Dee" Allen - congas/timbales and Charles Miller - saxophonist/flutist.
"Our instruments and voices became our weapons of choice and the songs our ammunition. We spoke out against racism, hunger, gangs, crimes, and turf wars, as we embraced all people with hope and the spirit of brotherhood. It's just as apropos today" WAR, the original street band, was brought together by veteran record producer Jerry Goldstein ("My Boyfriend's Back", "Hang On Sloopy", "I Want Candy") and rock legend Eric Burdon (ex-lead singer of the top British band The Animals). "I first saw some of the guys who would eventually become WAR playing at a topless beer bar in the San Fernando Valley, backing Deacon Jones, the pro football player, and knew immediately how potent these kids were," states Goldstein. "I was friends with Eric and he was ready to throw in the towel on the music scene and return to Newcastle. He was tired of the 'rock' thing and desperate for a fresh authentic sound. I called him the morning after I first saw the band and made him return to the club the next night with me. Eric was so blown away by what he had heard that he jumped on stage to jam with them. The guys weren't familiar with Eric or The Animals. I had them in the studio within a week, and the rest is history!"
WAR from the beginning was a concept & musical laboratory. As Burdon's back band, it was the vehicle for Goldstein (as producer/songwriter) and Burdon (as lead singer) to experiment with the blending of many musical styles and influences. "At the time, I didn't envision WAR as a separate entity. It was just a band to back Eric. I kind of thought it would change with his musical moods" says Goldstein. "It turned out to be that constantly evolving device, just without Eric Burdon."
Eric Burdon and WAR began playing live shows and immediately found themselves in front of sold-out audiences throughout Southern California before entering into the studio to record their debut album Eric Burdon Declares WAR. The album's key track, the erotic Latin flavored "Spill The Wine" was an immediate worldwide hit and launched the band's career.
The band's popularity has grown steadily ever since, as a result of the commitment to being road WARriors combined with great increases television appearances, record sales, use of their music in film, television and commercials, samples and covers by other recording artists. A big shot in the arm to WAR's presence on the touring scene was the release of 1994's Peace Sign, an album well received by critics and fans. WAR now tours over 150 dates a year to audiences ranging from tens of thousands to intimate clubs.
WAR's global popularity is a tribute to the timelessness of its music and message. Perhaps, nothing epitomizes this truth greater than the fact that WAR has twice been honored by its hometown of Los Angeles, over twenty years apart, for its music making positive contributions to the betterment of the community.
The evolution of WAR began in 1969... and WAR has been evolving ever since.