Hilton Valentine, a founding member of British group The Animals, has died at the age of 77.
Valentine’s death was confirmed by his record label Abkco Music & Records on Friday, reported Deadline.
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"Our deepest sympathies go out to @HiltonValentine's family and friends on his passing this morning, at the age of 77," the company wrote on Twitter. "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."
The cause of death has not been revealed.
Valentine formed The Animals along with singer Eric Burdon, bassist Chas Chandler, keyboardist Alan Price, and drummer John Steel.
The band’s 1964 track “House of the Rising Sun” is particularly memorable for Valentine’s opening guitar riff and helped the song become a #1 hit in the United States.
Burdon paid tribute to Valentine and his legacy in a touching Instagram post.
“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,” Bourdon wrote. “Rock n peace.”
Some of the band’s other hits include “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” “It’s My Life” and “We Gotta Get Out of This Place.”
Although Valentine left The Animals in 1966, he rejoined on several reunions throughout the ensuing decades. In 1994, he and the other original members of the band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Valentine released several solo albums throughout his career, with the most recent being “Skiffledog on Coburg St” in 2011.
He is survived by his wife, Germaine Valentine.