Saturday, February 13, 2021

Hilton Valentine - Guitarist For The Animals - Dead On January 29th


It's an Am kid, not Bm,
you little showoff!

So everyone get out a guitar. Tune it up to standard tuning. If you are ready let us begin. The song is in 6/8 time and the guitar part is played in an arpeggio style. So count along with me on each chord. Are Ready? Let's begin...1,2,3,4,5,6... 

Am 1,2,3,4,5,6  Cmaj 1,2,3,4,5,6  Dmaj 1,2,3,4,5,6 Fmaj 1,2,3,4,5,6 
Am 1,2,3,4,5,6  Cmaj 1,2,3,4,5,6  Emaj 1,2,3,4,5,6  Emaj 1,2,3,4,5,6
Am 1,2,3,4,5,6  Cmaj 1,2,3,4,5,6  Dmaj 1,2,3,4,5,6  Fmaj 1,2,3,4,5,6 
Am 1,2,3,4,5,6  Emaj 1,2,3,4,5,6  Am,5,6 Cmaj 1,2,4,5,6  Dmaj 1,2,3,4,5,6  Fmaj 1,2,3,4,5,6 
Am 1,2,3,4,5,6  Emaj 1,2,3,4,5,6  Am 1,2,3,4,5,6 Emaj 1,2,3,4,5,6

Now just repeat, or as we say in the Music Biz "DC" (da capo), which means, return to the beginning, and keep playing until the song is finished.

If you have played along with me so far, then you probably recognize this song that we are playing.

Hilton Stewart Paterson Valentine passed away on January 29th of this year at age 77. Many of you may not know of him. Even those of us trying to wrap our fingers onto guitar fret boards back in the mid 1960's  may not have known the name of this man, but we were certainly aware of his epic guitar part on the song House Of The Rising Sun, and in 1964/65 when we were developing calluses on our fingers in an attempt to learn his version that song. 

Hilton Valentine took up the guitar in 1956 and learned enough chords to join a Skiffle Band. These type of groups were all the rage in Britain at the time.

Railroad Bill Skiffle Band
Skiffle Music was being played on the radio and in pubs, and the allure was that players didn’t need a lot of money to purchase an instrument to be in a band. The term Skiffle is English slang for “making a mess of business”. The style of music probably originated in the United State in the form of Jug Bands, but during the 1950's Skiffle experienced a revival in the U.K.. 

John Lennon, Skiffle Band
 The Quarrymen
Notable Skiffle players included John Lennon, Ronnie Wood, Van Morrison, Mick Jager, Jimmy Page and so many others. All a group need was an acoustic guitar player, a washboard player, and a homemade“tea chest” bass ( some used an overturned galvanized washtub and a broom handle to tie a string), and the ability to sing some wild songs.

Starting at age 13, Hilton Valentine was completely self taught on the guitar, and he parlayed his talent into several local Skiffle groups. 

By 1959, when Rock Music was coming into vogue, Valentine purchased a Futurama III solid body electric guitar and a Selmer amplifier and set his sights on joining a local rock band.

In 1960 he traded the Futurama for a much nicer Burns aka Ormston Burns Vibra Artist, and joined a group called The Wildcats. Within a year Valentine was developing a reputation for being quite a wild guitar player. 

The Alan Price Combo
Around 1963 Chas Chandler of The Alan Price Combo aka The Alan Price Set  went to hear Hilton Valentine play, and invited him to join his group. Within a few months the band's name was changed to The Animals. Vocalist Eric Burdon was already a member. 

The Animals went on to record many popular songs of the mid 1960’s including We Got To Get Out Of This Place, Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, It’s My Life, I’m Crying, and of course, The House Of The Rising Sun. 

The group was featured on many pop music television shows of the day in the U.K., in the United States and in Europe. 

The Animals "It's My Life"
The Animals were mainly know for Eric Burdon’s gruff vocals, Alan Price’s haunting organ solos, and their choice of rhythm and blues style songs. However Hilton Valentine’s guitar playing, Chas Chandlers bass, and John Steel drums were integral to the group’s sound. Unfortunately due to poor management 

The Animals split up in 1966. They reunited in 1968 and did a short tour in 1975. 

Dylan's version of
The House Of The Rising Sun

Perhaps their most well known song was The House Of The Rising Sun. The group had been playing their version of this song in local clubs. They learned it from hearing Bob Dylan’s recording. Dylan learned the song from folksinger Dave Van Ronk.

The song, traced back to 1905, and was originally about a woman that worked in a “bawdy house” as a prostitute. 

Over the years the gender occasionally changed based on who was singing it. It was "the ruin of many a poor girl, or many a poor boy."

Hilton Valentine is credited for using guitar arpeggios on the chord progression which had not been done before. To a 13 year old boy struggling to play guitar, if we accomplished playing Valentine’s version it was like striking gold. You simply dragged your pick across each note instead of just strumming the chord.

When Valentine recorded this song he was using his 1962 Gretsch Tennessean model guitar and his Selmer amplifier. Price played the howling organ riff on his Vox Continental model organ. 

It was recorded in 1964 in just one take during the 15 minute recording session. With all the verses the song clocked in at 4 minutes and 29 seconds, which was twice as long as most popular songs played on the radio. But producer, Mickey Most pushed it through since he sensed it was going to be a hit. And it was! The Animal’s version of House Of The Rising Sun charted three times, in 1965, and again in 1972 and 1982.

After The Animals disbanded, in hopes of reviving his career, Valentine took someone's advice and  moved to California.  There he recorded a solo album entitled All In Your Head, which unfortunately was not very successful. 

Valentine then returned to the UK. Over the years joined several Animals reunions. Hilton Valentine even formed a short-lived group called The Animals II in 1993 which included original drummer John Steel.

Rock and Roll HOF Induction
In 1994, along with Eric Burdon, Chas Chandler, Alan Price, John Steel, and Valentine, The Animals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Then in 2001 with the other Animals, Hilton was inducted into Hollywood's Rock Walk of Fame.

Hilton Valentine released a new album in 2004 called It's Folk 'n' Skiffle, Mate! From that release until October 2009 he played throughout New England, New York and South Carolina, with his Skiffledog solo project. 

From February 2007 to November 2008 Valentine toured with Eric Burdon in a group called Eric Burdon and The New Animals. 

In early 2009 Valentine released two basement demo recordings on his MySpace page. (Anyone remember MySpace? I wonder if it still exists?) 

By 2011, Valentine released a new album titled Skiffledog on Coburg Street and they a Christmas album with Big Boy Pete Miller ex-Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers titled Merry Skifflemas!.  Throughout his career, Hilton Valentine used a variety of guitar. 

In 1965 due to the success of The Animals, Rose Morris Music, which was a large London shop that distributed Rickenbacker guitars in the UK gave him two guitars. One was a Rose Morris Rickenbacker 1997 model, and the other was a Rickenbacker 12 string Rose Morris Model 1993. 

During the filming of a television show in New York City a fan presented  him with a Fender Telecaster and a case. 

To promote their guitars, Vox Music Instrument gave Valentine a V223 Mark XII Teardrop guitar. 

1963 Gibson SG Custom
Another guitar he was seen playing was a 1963 Gibson SG/Les Paul Custom. At one time this was Gibson's top of the line solid body guitar. It had a white finish on the body and neck. The fretboard was ebony with block abalone markers. The headstock had a split diamond inlay. 

The hardware was all gold-plated including the three pickup covers, and tuning machine. The original model came with a Gibson Vibrola.  I remember when it first was introduced. I drooled over it. 

In later years Valentine relied on a a '72 Telecaster Thinline model with a rosewood fretboard.  

For six string acoustic work Valentine owned a Guild D-120.

In his remaining years, Valentine made his home in Connecticut. He died there on 29 January 2021, at the age of 77. He was married to wife Germaine, who revealed the news of his death on 30 January 2021, at the age of 77.

Click on the text under the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for further information.
©UniqueGuitar Publication 2021 (text only)

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