A Rockapaedia Obituary
Band: The Animals
Hilton Valentine died aged seventy-seven in Wallingford, Connecticut, United States of America and was survived by his wife, Germaine and his daughter Samantha.
Hilton was born in North Shields, Northumberland, United Kingdom, and was influenced by the 1950s skiffle period. His mother bought him his first guitar in 1956 when he was thirteen and he taught himself some chords from a book called "Teach Yourself a Thousand Chords". Hilton continued to develop his musical talent at Tynemouth High School and formed his own skiffle group called the Heppers who played local gigs and a newspaper described them at the time as, "A young but promising skiffle group". The Heppers in 1959 evolved into a rock and roll band called the Wildcats who were a popular band in the Tyneside area, getting a lot of bookings for dance halls, working men's clubs, church halls etc. It was during this period that they decided to record a ten inch acetate LP called Sounds of the Wild Cats.
It was in 1963 that the embryonic Animals were starting to form and Chas Chandler heard about Hilton Valentine's wild guitar playing and asked him to join what was then called the Alan Price Combo. Eric Burdon was already a member and John Steel joined immediately following Hilton Valentine's arrival. Within a few months, this group solidified their name as "The Animals".
While the Animals are often remembered most for Eric Burdon's vocals and Alan Price's organ, Hilton Valentine is credited with the electric guitar arpeggio introduction to the Animals' 1964 signature song "The House of the Rising Sun", which inspired countless beginning guitarists. It was played on his Gretsch Tennessean guitar which he bought in Newcastle in early 1962 while he was still with the Wildcats, and a Selmer amplifier. Later, in 1964, Rickenbacker gave him a 1964 Rose Morris guitar to use along with a 12-string model. Hilton Valentine continued to play and record with the Animals, until the first incarnation of the band dissolved in September 1966. In 1977, Hilton Valentine rejoined the group and recorded a reunion album called Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted.
After he left The Animals, Hilton Valentine moved to California and in 1969 recorded a solo album produced and arranged by later Animals member Vic Briggs and entitled 'All In Your Head', but was not successful. Hilton Valentine then returned to the UK, and over the years joined several Animals reunions.
Along with Eric Burdon, Chas Chandler, Alan Price and John Steel, Hilton Valentine was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Along with the other Animals, Hilton was inducted into Hollywood's Rock Walk of Fame in May 2001. He released a new album, It's Folk 'n' Skiffle, Mate! in 2004. From that release until October 2009 he played throughout New England, New York and South Carolina, with his Skiffledog solo project. As well, from February 2007 to November 2008 Hilton Valentine toured with Eric Burdon. In 2011, Hilton Valentine released a new album titled Skiffledog on Coburg Street and a Christmas album with Big Boy Pete Miller called Merry Skifflemas!. Hilton Valentine's last recording was "River Tyne", a 2019 video that celebrated the river close to his boyhood home.