Guitarist Hilton Valentine, whose memorable opening riff on classic The Animals house of the rising sun propelled the song to No. 1 in the United States, died Friday at 77. No cause of death has been given, according to a statement from his former record company, Abkco.
Valentine was a founding member of the British group The Animals. The band’s House of the Rising Sun reached No. 1 in 1964 in the UK, US and Canada and is among Rolling Stone’s greatest songs of all time.
Other Valentine’s Day hits with The Animals include Don’t let me be misunderstood, this is my life and We have to get out of this place the latter particularly popular during the Vietnam War.
The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
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“At Abkco we have had the privilege of serving as custodians of The Animals catalog and her passing is felt really deeply by the entire Abkco family,” the record company said.
Valentine was born in North Shields, Northumberland, England. He started playing the guitar at 13, but was orphaned at 16. guitar.
This notoriety brought him to the attention of Chas Chandler, Alan Price and Eric Burdon who recruited him to join a new group they formed in 1963. With the final addition of John Steel, they would become The Animals.
Valentine left the group in 1966, but joined for several reunions.
Valentine released a solo album in 1969 titled Everything in your head for Capitol Records. He found the animals three times and recorded Before we were so brutally interrupted with the group in 1977, then joined them in 1983.
In May 2001, he was inducted into the Hollywood Rock Walk of Fame along with the other animals and had a two-night reunion concert at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles.
In recent years, Valentine has toured with the band Skiffledog which has toured in the United States and released two albums. He also joined Burdon, with whom he remained close, on tour in 2007-2008.
He is survived by his wife, Germaine Valentine. No information on the memorial service was available.