Hilton Valentine, founding guitarist of The Animals, dies aged 77

Kristine Tarbert
·Features and Health Editor
·2-min read

Tributes are being shared online for the founding guitarist of The Animals, Hilton Valentine, after he passed away at the age of 77.

Considered a “pioneering guitar player”, Hilton’s death was confirmed on Friday by the band's label ABKCO Music.

Hilton Valentine of the Animals attends the 2010 Rock Con in 2010
Hilton Valentine of the Animals has died aged 77. Photo: Getty

“Our deepest sympathies go out to Hilton Valentine's family and friends on his passing this morning, at the age of 77,” read a statement on Twitter.

“A founding member and original guitarist of The Animals, Valentine was a pioneering guitar player influencing the sound of rock and roll for decades to come.”

hilton valentine dead
The group's label shared the news online. Photo: Twitter

Hilton Valentine, from North Tyneside, England, formed The Animals in 1963 alongside singer Eric Burdon, bassist Chas Chandler, organist Alan Price, and drummer John Steel.

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The band's most famous song, 1964's The House Of The Rising Sun, topped the charts in both the UK and the US.

Hilton’s electric guitar arpeggio riff that introduces the song is now considered a classic.

The pop group The Animals in this file photo dated April 1983.
Hilton formed the band in 1963. Photo: AP

He remained with the group for only about three years, but in that time recorded four albums, including their debut self-titled album, studio record ‘The Animals on Tour’, ‘Animal Tracks’, and two released in 1966.

The last album he played with the band on was ‘Animalization’ in 1966, though he continued to remain in the music industry after leaving the group.

Hilton Valentine released a solo album in 1969 entitled ‘All in Your Head’ for Capitol Records, but he later reunited with The Animals three times.

Despite his short stint, Hilton was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 along with the rest of the band’s members. The Animals was also inducted into the Rock Walk of Fame in Hollywood in 2001.

Hilton Valentine performing with the animals in 1964
Hilton Valentine performing in Europe in 1964. Photo: Getty

Singer Eric Burdon was one of many who have paid tribute to Hilton online.

“The opening opus of Rising Sun will never sound the same! You didn't just play it, you lived it! Heartbroken by the sudden news of Hilton's passing,” he wrote, adding, “We had great times together, Geordie lad. From the North Shields to the entire world. Rock In Peace”.

Fans also shared their sadness about the news.

“Such sad news, condolences to his family and friends. That wonderful riff in House of the Rising Sun was amazing and still sounds as brilliant today - thank you for the music,” one person wrote.

“Such sad news. I love The Animals, great band, great songs, great sound. Thanks for the music, Hilton. Love&respect,” another wrote.

With AAP.

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