Hilton Valentine, founding guitarist of The Animals, has died aged 77.
Valentine’s death was confirmed on Friday by the band’s label ABKCO Music, who wrote in a statement on Twitter: “Our deepest sympathies go out to @HiltonValentine’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.”
Valentine, from North Shields, North Tyneside, formed The Animals in 1963 alongside singer Eric Burdon, bassist Chas Chandler, organist Alan Price and drummer John Steel.
The band’s most famous song, 1964’s The House of the Rising Sun, topped the charts in both the UK and the US.
Burdon paid tribute to Valentine on Instagram, writing: “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.”