In Los Angeles, during the experimental 1960s, Eric Burdon started the band War with the intention of making a difference in the world. War combined instruments and genres in a way that had never been heard before. For instance, they combined Latin, jazz, blues, reggae, and rock. The permanent group included Lonnie Jordon on bass, B.B. Dickerson on saxophone, Papa Dee Allen (who had previously played for Dizzy Gillespie) on jazz percussion, and Lee Oskar on the harp.
Burdon took charge and they released Eric Burdon Declares War in 1970, with smash hit 'Spill the Wine' at number three in the charts. They also recorded The Black Man's Burdon, with long improvisations and 'They Can't Take Away Our Music.' They linked with United Artists, but Burdon quit and went solo in the midst of their European tour in 1971. A few years later, 'All Day Music' and 'Slippin' Into Darkness' received the attention they needed, selling a million copies. War really hit it big with 1972's The World Is a Ghetto: it was high on the charts and sold over 3 million albums worldwide. The hit singles 'The Cisco Kid,' 'Why Can't We Be Friends,' and 'Low Rider' were featured on the album. The band got its glory on the charts and simultaneously challenged the political arena. Deliver the World in 1973 sold a million copies and reached top ten with the popular 'Gypsy Man' and 'Me and Baby Brother.' War Live, recorded during four nights of concerts in Chicago, was released in 1974.
In 1977 they switched to MCA and released Galaxy, followed by the Youngblood soundtrack album in 1978. Dickerson abandoned the band in 1979 during the recording of The Music Band with new vocalist Alice Tweed Smith. The Music Band 2, recorded with members Luther Rabb, Ronnie Hammon, and Pat Rizzo, was a flop.
In the following years, War came back, focusing heavily on touring. Tragically, Papa Dee Allen collapsed and died on-stage of a brain aneurysm in 1988. After recovering from the loss, they released the 1992 album Rap Declares War, which cut the path for 1994's Peace Sign. Though the album didn't make it as big as previous successes, the group resumed touring and maintained a big following. They continue to play gigs around the globe, selling tickets to fans both young and old.
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