The band was best known for its 1964 hit House of the Rising Sun, which rose to the top of the charts in both Britain and the United States.

FILE PHOTO: Hilton Valentine, a founding member and  guitarist for the British 60s pop group The Animals.
FILE PHOTO: Hilton Valentine, a founding member and guitarist for the British 60s pop group The Animals. (Twitter / ABKCO Music & Records)

Hilton Valentine, a founding member and original guitarist for the British 60s pop group The Animals, has died at the age of 77, the band's record label said.

"Our deepest sympathies go out to @HiltonValentine's family and friends on his passing ... at the age of 77," the label ABKCO Music, posted on Twitter.

"Valentine was a pioneering guitar player influencing the sound of rock and roll for decades to come," it added in a statement on Friday.

The band was best known for its 1964 hit House of the Rising Sun, which rose to the top of the charts in both Britain and the United States.

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The pop group The Animals in this file photo dated April 1983. (Back l-r) Alan Price, John Steele, Chas Chandler. (front l-r) Eric Burden and Hilton Valentine.
The pop group The Animals in this file photo dated April 1983. (Back l-r) Alan Price, John Steele, Chas Chandler. (front l-r) Eric Burden and Hilton Valentine. (AP Archive)

Born in North Shields, northeast England, Valentine formed The Animals with singer Eric Burdon, bass player Chas Chandler, organist Alan Price and drummer John Steel in 1963.

The band went on to have a number of other hits including Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood and We Gotta Get Out Of This Place.

The original members drifted apart towards the end of the 1960s and Valentine later produced the solo album All In Your Head.

Burdon paid tribute to the guitarist who wrote the the iconic opening riff of House of the Rising Sun.

"The opening opus of Rising Sun will never sound the same," Burdon wrote on Instagram. "You didn't just play it, you lived it! Heartbroken by the sudden news of Hilton's passing.

"We had great times together, Geordie lad. From the North Shields to the entire world...Rock In Peace."

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Source: AFP