Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and founding member of The Animals – Hilton Valentine – died January 29 in Wallingford, Connecticut at the age of 77.  No official cause of death was listed.

A guitarist in the band, he is credited with creating one of the most famous riffs in the British Invasion with the opening to “House of the Rising Sun”.

Valentine was 13 before he started playing the guitar.  Before forming The Animals, he was a part of the band The Heppers which later became The Wildcats.  In 1963, he founded The Animals with Eric Burdon, Chas Chandler, Alan Price, and John Steel.

The band topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic in 1964 with “House of the Rising Sun”.  He remained a part of The Animals for four years before embarking on a solo career before making a return to the band.  Most recently, Valentine has been a part of the band Skiffledog.

He was born Hilton Stewart Paterson Valentine on May 21, 1943 in North Shields, England.

Along with his various musical appearances on television, he appeared as an actor on “Bikini World”, “Ready, Steady, Go”, “The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood”, and the video for “House of the Rising Sun”.

Valentine is survived by his wife Germaine.

feature photo credit: By Richard William Laws – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,