The Animals guitarist Hilton Valentine dies at 77



His fingers caressed the guitar strings to compose one of the most memorable arpeggios in rock history on 'The House of the Rising Sun'. Armed with that passport to eternity, the guitarist of The Animals, Hilton valentine, has died at 77 years of age.

The Animals record company, ABKCO Music, broke the news in a statement describing Valentine as a "pioneering guitarist who influenced the sound of rock and roll for decades to come."

The band headed by Eric Burdon was one of the main references in the mid-60s thanks to his rock passed through the sieve of folk and blues. Much of that fame came from his version of 'The House of the Rising Sun', in which Valentine played a key role.

Burdon himself recalled it when saying goodbye to his partner on social networks: "The opening notes of Rising Sun will never sound the same! ... You didn't just play them, you lived them! Heartbroken by the sudden news of Hilton's death. We had great moments together, "he wrote.

The guitar with which Valentine played that arpeggio, a Gretsch from Tennessee that he bought in 1962, has also gone down in history thanks to the music video that accompanied the song, which topped the charts around the world.

Rock attitude

Valentine, what died on friday According to his wife, he was born in North Shields (north of England) in 1943 and soon discovered his guitar vocation in a group of 'skiffle', a genre that mixes elements of blues, jazz and folk.

Orphaned since the age of 16, he channeled his overflowing energy first into the skiffle group The Heppers, and later to the rockers Wildcats, where he became known for rolling on the ground while playing guitar.

It was precisely that wild attitude that allowed him to join The Animals at age 20, the group that Burdon concocted with bassist Chas Chandler and organist Alan Price, and later joined by John Steel on drums.

"What really made Animals a rock group was Hilton, because I don't think that rock element was in the band until we found him. Not only did he play rock 'n' roll, he had the look. He was a guy with a slicked-back greasy mane, cheap leather jackets, pointy shoes, black jeans and a smile on his face, "Burdon said in a recent interview.

Together they reaped other great successes -although never at the level of the House of the Rising Sun- such as 'Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood', 'We Gotta Get Out of This Place' or 'Baby let me take you home'.

Only three years later, in 1966, the band disintegrated as a result of internal tensions, and, although Burdon re-founded the group with other companions, Valentine did not return to be part of it, although he did participate in later meetings and played with the singer on tours.

After leaving 'The Animals', the guitarist launched into a solo career in California (USA) with which he was not very successful, before returning to his native United Kingdom.

Valentine entered, along with the rest of the band, in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

In recent years, the guitarist, who moved to live in Connecticut (USA), returned to skiffle music with his Skiffledog project and joined Burdon, with whom he maintained a close friendship, on tours in 2007 and 2008.

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