Queen Guitarist Brian May Honors Hilton Valentine of The Animals

2021-02-11

Brian May of Queen performing live amid a bright blue background. May pays tribute to late Animals guitarist Hilton Valentine with two videos in which he plays "House of the Rising Sun."

Brian May of Queen – Story by Charles Ken, photo by Ken Settle

Brian May of Queen pays tribute to late Animals guitarist Hilton Valentine with two videos in which he performs “House of the Rising Sun” and gives a lesson on how to play the song on guitar

Queen guitarist Brian May is honoring late Animals guitarist Hilton Valentine with two videos in which he performs the legendary introduction from The Animals’ 1964 rendition of “The House of the Rising Sun.” While song is a traditional folk number dating back to 1905, The Animals made it legendary with their version, which went No. 1 in the United States, United Kingdom and France in the mid-1960s.

In the first YouTube video, May discusses the guitar riff, stating, “I’m gonna take you back to 1964, when a revolutionary sound burst upon the airwaves, something like this…” He follows that up by playing the riff and musical progression and discussing The Animals’ influential recording of “The House of the Rising Sun.”

“It really was totally revolutionary in its time, because English pop music was not like that,” May said of the performance. “It was very fluffy and rather lovely and melodic and sweet, but it didn’t have the passion that this had.”

He added, “What they loved was the music of the black blues men who put into their music a passion and a feel and an urgency which really wasn’t known in England at that time. So they’re one of the pioneers of the blues.”

May then goes on to talk about how Valentine interpreted the song with his raw, real guitar riff. “It has to be played roughly,” May stated. “It’s not about perfection, it’s about feel, and that’s partly what made this record so exciting, so raw, I think.”

“R.I.P. Hilton Valentine,” he concluded. “We love you, and thank you for this amazing, amazing contribution to the development of rock music. Gonna always love it.”

In the second YouTube video, May gives a mini-lesson and tips on how to perform the “House of the Rising Sun” riff on guitar.

Valentine passed away on Jan. 29. He was 77 years old.


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Posted by Charles Ken | Music, Rock, Rock News