Hilton Valentine, original guitarist for The Animals, died on Friday at age 77. No cause of death was given but the news was announced by the band's record label, ABKO who wrote, "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."

Valentine formed The Animals in 1962/1963 with singer Eric Burdon keyboardist Alan Price, bassist Chas Chandler, and drummer John Steel. He's credited with creating the signature arpeggiated riff of their #1 hit version of "The House of the Rising Son." Eric Burdon paid tribute to Valentine, 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."

The Animals' '60s run of hits also included "We Gotta Get Out of This Place", "It's My Life," "Inside Looking Out," "I'm Crying" and "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood." They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

Rest in peace, Hilton.

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