Hilton Valentine

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Hilton Valentine
Valentine in 1964
Valentine in 1964
Background information
Birth nameHilton Stewart Paterson Valentine
Born(1943-05-21)21 May 1943
North Shields, Northumberland, England
Died29 January 2021(2021-01-29) (aged 77)
Connecticut, U.S.
GenresRock, blues rock, folk rock
Years active1963–2021

Hilton Stewart Paterson Valentine (21 May 1943 – 29 January 2021) was an English skiffle and rock and roll musician who was the original guitarist in The Animals. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and into Hollywood’s Rock Walk of Fame in 2001 with the other members of The Animals.

Following The Animals' breakup in 1966, Valentine produced several solo albums including All in Your Head (1969) and It’s Folk ‘N’ Skiffle, Mate! (2004). He also toured New England and participated in several The Animals reunions.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Valentine was born in North Shields, North Tyneside, England, and was influenced by the 1950s skiffle craze. His mother bought him his first guitar in 1956 when he was 13, he taught himself some chords from a book called Teach Yourself a Thousand Chords.

Early career[edit]

He continued to develop his musical talent at Tynemouth High School and formed his own skiffle group called the Heppers.[3] They played local gigs and a newspaper described them at the time as, "A young but promising skiffle group". The Heppers eventually evolved into a rock and roll band, the Wildcats in c. 1959. During this period Valentine played a Futurama III solid guitar,[4] this was the UK brandname of importer Selmer, his next guitar was a Burns Vibra-Artiste which he bought in 1960–61.[4] The Wildcats were a popular band in the Tyneside area, getting a lot of bookings for dance halls, working men's clubs, church halls etc., and it was during this period that they decided to record a 10" acetate LP titled Sounds of the Wild Cats (sic).

Professional career[edit]

The Animals[edit]

In 1963, the Animals were starting to form and Chas Chandler heard about Hilton Valentine's wild guitar playing and asked him to join what was then the Alan Price Combo. Eric Burdon was already a member and John Steel joined immediately following Valentine's arrival. Within a few months, this group changed their name to the Animals.

While the Animals are often remembered most for Burdon's vocals and Price's organ, Valentine is credited with the electric guitar arpeggio introduction to the Animals' 1964 signature song "The House of the Rising Sun", which inspired countless beginner guitarists.[5][6] It was played[7] on his Gretsch Tennessean[4] 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.[4] Valentine continued to play and record with the Animals, until the first incarnation of the band dissolved in September 1966.[8]


In 1977, Valentine rejoined the group and recorded a reunion album called Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted.[3][9]

Along with Eric Burdon, Chas Chandler, Alan Price and John Steel, 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.

Later career[edit]

After he left The Animals, Valentine moved to California and in 1969 recorded a solo album entitled All In Your Head, which was not successful.[3]The album was produced and arranged by later Animals member Vic Briggs. Not long after the album was fully complete and released, Valentine then returned to the UK. He released a new album, It's Folk 'n' Skiffle, Mate! in 2004.[10]

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 Valentine toured with Eric Burdon. In 2011, Valentine released a new album titled Skiffledog on Coburg Street and a Christmas album with Big Boy Pete Miller (ex-Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers) titled Merry Skifflemas!.[11]

Valentine's last recording was "River Tyne", a 2019 video that celebrated the river close to his boyhood home.[3]

Personal life and death[edit]

In his later years, Valentine and his wife Germaine lived in Connecticut, where he died on 29 January 2021 at the age of 77; no cause of death was given. His body was returned to England and is interred at Preston Cemetery and Tynemouth Crematorium, North Shields. He is survived by his wife and daughter.[12]


The Animals' version of the "House of the Rising Sun" is generally considered to be the definitive version of the song, and was cited by Bob Dylan as one of the reasons why he transitioned from acoustic to electric sound. Speaking of Valentine's opening riff for the song, Ian MacDonald noted that "It is one of the most instantly recognizable introductions to one of the most memorable songs of the 60s. A seemingly simple, but technically perfect execution of an on-going arpeggio figure over a repeated chord progression in A minor, which countless budding guitarists have tried to emulate over the decades, though rarely with such accuracy and precision."[3]


On 16 November 2021, a blue plaque was placed by North Tyneside Council on Valentine's childhood home at 42 Coburg Street, North Shields, where he lived between 1944 and 1960. The plaque was unveiled by Valentine's widow.[13]


The Animals


  • All in Your Head (1969)
  • It’s Folk 'N' Skiffle, Mate! (2004)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hilton Valentine, Founding Guitarist For The Animals, Dies At 77". NPR.org. National Public Radio. 30 January 2021. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  2. ^ Hughes, William (30 January 2021). "R.I.P. Hilton Valentine, original guitarist for The Animals". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 1 February 2021 – via Yahoo!.
  3. ^ a b c d e Davison, Phil. "The Animals guitarist Hilton Valentine dies at 77". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d "Hilton Valentine Equipment". Hiltonvalentine.com. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  5. ^ T.J. McGrath, "Hilton Valentine: The Sun Also Rises" Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Dirty Linen, June/July 2006. Accessed 4 May 2007.
  6. ^ Barry York, "House of Worship", The Age, 9 July 2004. Accessed 4 May 2007.
  7. ^ Animals – House of the Rising Sun on YouTube
  8. ^ "Gary James' Interview With Hilton Valentine Of The Animals". Classicbands.com. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  9. ^ Biography, AllMusic
  10. ^ Lewry, Fraser (30 January 2021). "The Animals guitarist and founding member Hilton Valentine dead at 77". Classic Rock Magazine.
  11. ^ "Big Boy Pete and Hilton Valentine - Merry Skifflemas! (2011)". Somethingelsereviews.com. 8 December 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  12. ^ "Hilton Valentine, guitarist with the Animals, dies aged 77". BBC News. 31 January 2021. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  13. ^ "Blue Plaque tribute for North Shields guitar legend Hilton Valentine". North Tyneside Council. 12 November 2021. Retrieved 11 July 2023.

External links[edit]