Hilton Valentine, the guitarist for the esteemed English rock band, The Animals, has tragically died last Friday, January 29. He was 77 years old.
In a statement last Friday, the band’s record label, ABKCO Music, announced his passing, yet did not give a cause of death. Valentine is survived by his wife, Germaine Valentine, who still resides at their Connecticut home.
Our deepest sympathies go out to @HiltonValentine‘s family and friends on his passing this morning, at the age of 77.
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. pic.twitter.com/gSUyVN0WWS
— ABKCO Music & Records (@ABKCO) January 29, 2021
Valentine, originally out of North Shields, Northumberland, England, began to play guitar at the age of 13 and was a part of many bands in his younger years before he was recruited to form The Animals with Chas Chandler, Alan Price and Eric Burdon in 1963. Valentine remained with The Animals for four years, producing many smash hits along the way. He continued to play with The Animals for frequent reunions.
The Animals are most famed for their 1964 version of “The House of the Rising Sun,” especially Valentine’s iconic guitar riff intro, for which the song is automatically recognized by listeners of all ages. The song reached #1 in the U.S., the U.K. and Canada. The Animals were later inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
Listen to The Animals’ “The House of the Rising Sun” here:
The band and fans continue to mourn this rock ‘n’ roll legend, who influenced many artists who followed in the band’s footsteps. The ABKCO statement recounts how “Dave Pirner described The Animals essential standing as a ‘key link in the evolving transition from black R&B to punk rock,’” and Valentine’s important role in this transition as the band’s epic guitarist for which he will surely be remembered.