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Hilton Valentine, founding guitarist for The Animals, dead at 77

Jacob Blickenstaff

Hilton Valentine, founding guitarist for The Animals, has died at the age of 77.

ABKCO Music & Records, the band's record label, announced the news on their Twitter account with a statement that reads, "Our deepest sympathies go out to Hilton Valentine'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."

In 1963, bassist Chas Chandler recruited Valentine to join a band with him and his buddies Eric Burdon and Alan Price, and The Animals were born. Despite the original lineup disbanding in 1963, and Valentine's pursuit of his solo career, the band reunited many times over the years.

Valentine formed the band Skiffledog, releasing two albums of skiffle music, and joined former bandmate Eric Burdon on tour in 2007 and 2008.

Burdon paid tribute to Valentine on Instagram in a post that read “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.”

No cause of death has been confirmed. Listen to his iconic performance on "House of the Rising Sun" below.

Otis is the late morning host on WFPK. Email Otis at ojunior@lpm.org