The Animals guitarist and founding member Hilton Valentine dies

Founding member of Animals Hilton Valentine has died at the age of 77.

The British musician's death was confirmed by his wife Germaine Valentine via The Animals record label Abcko.

A statement confirming the sad news on Twitter read: "We, along with all of the music world, mourn the loss today of Hilton Valentine a founding member of The Animals.

"Valentine was a pioneering guitar player influencing the sound of rock and roll for decades to come. His death was revealed by his wife, Germaine Valentine.

"We at Abkco have been privileged to serve as stewards of The Animals catalog and his passing is felt in a truly profound way by the entire Abkco family."

No cause of death has been given.

Valentine was one of the founding members of The Animals and the band's guitarist.

He was responsible for creating the iconic opening riff of their most famous song, The House of The Rising Sun.

The track took the number one spot in both the UK and the US.

In a chat with Guitar International, The Animals member Eric Burdon credited Valentine with bringing a rock n' roll edge to the band.

He shared: "It really was Hilton who made the early Animals a rock band because I don’t think the element of rock was in the band until we found him.

"In those days, Hilton wasn’t just playing rock ‘n’ roll, he looked rock ‘n’ roll. Here was a guy with the greased mop of hair combed back, cheap leather jacket, winkle picker shoes, black jeans and a smile on his face playing through an echoplex, which was a secret weapon back then."

Valentine, who was born in North Shields, began playing the guitar at the age of 13.

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