Guitarist Hilton Valentine, a founding member of The Animals, died Friday. He was 77.
Commenting on his death, Animals singer Eric Burdon says, “The opening opus of 'House of the 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.”
Learning to play guitar at 13, he told Modern Guitars in 2006 that "Lonnie Donegan doing 'Rock Island Line on television drew him to the guitar. That and "hearing Chuck Berry and seeing him do the duck walk."
In 1963, he hooked up with Burdon, bassist Chas Chandler and keyboardist Alan Price to form a new group. With the final addition of drummer John Steel they would become The Animals.
Valentine remained with the band for the next four years and is heard on such classic recordings as “The House of the Rising Sun,” “Baby Let Me Take You Home,” “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” “It’s My Life” and “Don’t Bring Me Down.”
Sadly, Valentine didn't see any money from "House of the Rising Sun" because the arrangement was credited to Price. Burdon says this was because there was insufficient room to name all five band members on the record label, and Price's first name was first alphabetically. So, this meant that only he received songwriter's royalties, which caused bitterness among the other band members.
Valentine and The Animals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. He is the second member of the original line-up to pass following Chandler in 1996.
A resident of Connecticut, Valentine is survived by his wife Germaine.
The cause of death or where it occurred was not disclosed.