Founding Animals guitarist Hilton Valentine dies aged 77

The Animals
(Image credit: Val Wilmer/Redferns)

The Animals guitarist Hilton Valentine has passed away at the age of 77.  He was a founding member of the Newcastle band in 1963 alongside singer Eric Burdon, bassist Chas Chandler, organist Alan Price and drummer John Steel.

The musician died on Friday 29 January, according to  The Animals record label ABKCO. In tribute, the label described Valentine as a "pioneering guitar player influencing the sound of rock and roll for decades to come".

Eric Burdon wrote on Instagram: "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.

"We had great times together, Geordie lad. From the North Shields to the entire world...Rock In Peace."

The band's distinct take on that blues standard, in 1964 full title House Of The Rising Sun, remained The Animals' defining moment  after their initial split in 1969 with Valentine's arpeggiated Am/C/D/F/Am/E/Am part through the song becoming a rite of passage for many guitar guitarists as they learned to play.

The band would enjoy other hits on both sides of the Atlantic with Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, It's My Life, I'm Crying, Inside Looking Out and We've Got To Get Out Of This Place.  

Valentine pursued a solo career following The Animals' dissolution but Burdon and the guitarist would play together in a number of reunions over the years, and tour together in 2007.

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.