An Ode to One of the Original Animals!

Eric Burdon and the Animals guitarist Hilton Valentine Dies at Age 77

A Brief Tribute from Doug Draper on Niagara At Large

Posted February 1st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Hilton Valentine playing guitar (at right) with Animals lead singer and front man Eric Burdon, performing House of the Rising Sun on a 1964 TV show.

If you are a true listener lover of the popular music going back 50 or so years, then it may not matter whether you are an aging baby boomer going back to the beginning of the Beatles era or someone in your 20s or 30s, digging the latest releases from The Weekend, Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato or Drake.

Regardless of age or what genre of music you love the most, you have likely heard the first few bars of guitar notes that lead in to a song called ‘House of the Rising Sun’, recorded in 1964 by a group called The Animals from Newcastle, England.

Those notes, as simple as they were to master for countless aspiring guitarists, ushered in a song that became a mega hit for the group and is considered a classic in pop music to this day. They were played by Animals guitarist and Rock and Roll Hall-Of-Famer Hilton Valentine, who died late this January at age 77.

“I don’t know why (those guitar notes at the beginning of House of the Rising Sun caught such fire with listenners),” said Hilton Valentine in an interview many years later. “I just started doing it and it seemed to work. Nobody was aware in them days that it was going to be such a huge hit and still last and encouraged a lot of guitar players to start playing the guitar.”

A vintage photo of Animals guitarist Hilton Valentine

Perhaps the simplicity of those notes – proving once again that you don’t have to play a hundred notes a minute to make music that is catchy and elegant – had something to do with it.

“The opening opus of Rising Sun will never sound the same,” said Animals lead singer Eric Burdon in a statement following Valentine’s death . “You didn’t just play it, you lived it! Heartbroken by the sudde n news of Hilton’s passing,” he added. “We had great times together, Geordie lad. From the North Shields to the entire world…Rock In Peace.”

The Animals went on to offer the world many more great hits, including ‘We Gotta Get Out of this Place’, ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’, ‘It’s My Life’, ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’, and a whole bunch of others before, like so many bands from the 1960s, flaming out due to the pressure of relentless touring and cranking out records.

The Animals, featuring singer Eric Burdon, guitarist Hilton Valentine, bassust Chas Chandler, keyboard player Alan Price, drummer John Steel, and others who sat in to replace those who moved on as the hyper-tensity of the 1960s, jetted on, were one of the very best groups that followed The Beatles out of England.

  • RIP Hilton Valentine

To read a CNN report on Hilton Valentine’s death, click on – .

To hear the first few guitar notes of House of the Rising Sun and the rest of this classic song, click on the screen immediately below, and if you have a guitar handy, now is a good time to get it out

Finally, here is an old video of The Animals performing House of the Rising Sun on a vintage TV show after the song was released in 1964. Unfortunately, the group is obviously seen here lip syncing to the recording of the song, which was not all that uncommon in those days.

The truth is that this was a very talented group that could have performed this live. In fact, the recording that became the hit, was actually recorded in one take, which is virtually unheard of then or now.

To watch the video, click on the screen immediately below –

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One response to “An Ode to One of the Original Animals!

  1. Loved the Animals. They were really exciting on stage, living up to their name. All were great musicians. The late Chas Chandler went on as manager of Jimi Hendrix and Slade. Alan Price was an amazing keyboardist. Diminutive Eric Burden could really rip out a song. Hilton was a great guitarist. The 60’s and 70’s stars are dying off. The good news is that music of that era is resurging as younger people realize how good it was. 😦


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