BROTHER JIM DOES IT AGAIN Jim Noonan has now been elevated to the position of Assistant/West Coast Editor EBCN scriber Jim Noonan has once again graced the pages of the EBCN with another great article. This time, he somehow pried an interview from original Animal Hilton Valentine. Sometime last summer Jim called to see if I (we) would be interested in an interview with Hilton. After Alan Price was less than generous with his interview in a recent Goldmine issue, I jumped. Visions of truthfulness danced in our heads. Jim asked for suggestions. I barely make it through the newsletter without Prozac, so the only thing I could think of was to press Hilton for some juicy stuff. If he waffles, press on. If he squirms and stutters, press on. If he gives an inch, take a foot. All this for naught. As you will see, Hilton was as nice as anyone might expect. Happy Valentine Day By Jim Noonan/High Noonan Entertainment Anaheim, CA Sept. 19, 1996 Valentine Day came late for me this year but it was surely worth the wait. Hilton Valentine, legendary guitarist for the Animals, had come vacationing to Southern California. Ironically, after coming all these thousands of miles, he just missed getting to see Eric, although he did talk to him on the phone. Eric and band were just leaving for a gig in Louisiana. Hilton hasnít seen Eric since they toured in 1983(Ark, Rip it to Shreds). In any event, I met Hilton and his female companion after they had spent the day at Disneyland (Sorry dear, Iíve forgotten your name, but with your beauty who needs a name?!). We went out to a Mexican restaurant and later to my house where Hilton graciously accepted my request for an exclusive interview for the EBCN. Hilton feels great, looks great and was very spirited. He acknowledges his past reputation as somewhat of an eccentric (can you spell L.S.D.?). But most importantly he is a survivor and is back doing what he loves - playing music again. After his departure as I reflected on the evenings events, I came to the conclusion that he embodied the very same special qualities that had previously drawn me to his buddy, Eric: warmth, sincerity, passion for the music and the willingness to risk all for what he believes in. Youíre way cool, Hilton! Here is the interview:
EBCN: Hi, Hilton. How are you doing, buddy? H.V.: Fine thanks, Jim. EBCN: I understand you and Johnny Steele (drummer for the Animals) are out on the road again. Can you tell us a little about that? H.V.: Yeah, weíre out on the road as Animals II. Weíre doing most of the early Animals stuff that we did in Ď63-í64 and Ď65. Things like Boom Boom, Gotta Get Out of This Place, Misunderstood, I Believe in My Soul,plus some other stuff from the 60ís that the Animals never recorded. EBCN: We havenít seen you over here in the U.S. Where have you been and where are you going? H.V.: Weíre working in Europe mainly: Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and 3 weeks in Australia at the beginning of this year. EBCN: I understand there is a possibility, nothing concrete, that you and your mates would like to get over here to the states. Is that something youíre looking into? H.V.: Yes it is. I think the band would do well in the States. EBCN: Let me switch back to a couple of years ago. Was it Ď94 that the Animals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Was it Ď93 or Ď94? H.V.: It was Ď94 EBCN: How did that make you feel? Did you have any reaction to that event? H.V.: Yes. Quite honestly I didnít realize how big the R&R Hall of Fame was, because we never heard much about it in England. I was really surprised. It felt like a great honor. EBCN: I know Eric wasnít able to make the event, did all four of the other Animals make it to the ceremony? H.V.: Yes. EBCN: Did any of you travel together? H.V.: Yes, Chas, John, and myself travelled together because we all still live back up in the Northeast of England in Newcastle. We met up on the plane with Alan Price. EBCN: How many days did they bring you over for? Was it three days? H.V.: Yes, it was three days. The first night was a dinner and meeting with the directors of the H.O.F. The second night was the actual ceremony and that was in New York. EBCN: Was there a jam session at the end of the H.O.F. ceremony and were you guys in it? H.V.: Yes, there was a jam session but we didnít play in it. We got very drunk. EBCN: Well then, you took up the slack for Eric not being there. H.V.: Yup(laughs) yup. EBCN: What about camaraderie among the Animals at the H.O.F. show - was there peace and harmony? H.V.: Well, there was peace and harmony genuinely between myself, Chas and Johnny but there wasnít a great deal of camaraderie with Alan Price. EBCN: It has been well publicized in recent years that there was dissatisfaction among the Animals regarding the royalties from House of the Rising Sun. Eric is on record as saying that Alan and manager Mike Jeffries received a disproportionate amount of the royalties. Do you agree, or what is your take on this situation? H.V.: (Laughs) Well, I certainly share that feeling. Not only was the distribution of royalties not right, but as far as the arrangement of House of the Rising Sun - none of the other Animals got any of the musical credit nor ANY of the royalties at all! Alan Price took the whole credit and all the royalties from the time it was released. As a matter of fact, Chas is on record as saying that Alan Price left the Animals very shortly after receiving the first royalty check from Rising Sun. You see, Alan Price did not arrange Rising Sun. EBCN: Who did? H.V.: We all did! EBCN: All five of you? H.V.: Yes. Mike Jeffries came to us one night when we were rehearsing and said we had to do something regarding the publishing of Rising Sun because it was public domain but we couldnít put all our names on the record. EBCN: It would be too cumbersome. H.V.: Yes, so M.J. said: Weíll just put Alanís name on it but itís understood (that everyone would share equally). Of course we didnít realize that it should have been in writing. EBCN: Well, itís amazing. Eric is on record as saying the same thing as you and Chas. Johnís not here to speak but... H.V.: John says the same thing. EBCN: How was it that in both 1977 and 1983 during the Animals reunion tours that you all could come together and work with Alan again. Was it thought that Alan had become a more reasonable, gentle person (Hilton laughs in the background) or was it a case of just putting it behind you? H.V.: It was a non-factor. EBCN: So the damage was already done. Water under the bridge? H.V.: Yes, thatís right. EBCN: Any contact with Eric lately and if so, what did he have to say? H.V.: Yes, just the other night. EBCN: I understand he was leaving town just as you were arriving. H.V.: Thatís right. We both agreed it was great to talk to one another and hear each others voices. Heís coming over to the U.K. pretty soon and heíll look me up when he gets there. EBCN: Very good, at least we will get to reunite over there. Itís a tragedy to come all this way and just miss him, but he has a gig in Louisiana tomorrow. Oh well, bad timing, but as you said, youíll be seeing him soon. Do you have any thoughts about the music business today, the kind of reception you guys are getting and the struggles of the business? H.V.: Well, itís the usual struggle of trying to make a living playing music. EBCN: What drives you to do it? H.V.: Well, myself and John just want to play. EBCN: Had you been inactive musically for some time or were you always jamming around town or were you quite away from it? H.V.: I stopped playing for 6 or 7 years and all sorts of other things. But for the last 8 or 9 years Iíve been playing more seriously. Iím now trying to make a living at it. At the moment I am making a living at it but would like to make a better living at it. EBCN: Were you at Ronnie Scottís Jazz Club in London when Hendrix jammed with Eric and War the night before Jimi died? H.V.: No, I was in London because I was working for Eric then, not playing. But I wasnít at the club that night. EBCN: On one of those early Animals albums you were asked several questions about your parents names, favorite colors etc. When asked for the biggest break in your career, you said signing with Mike Jeffrey. Did you have any reason to feel differently about that as time passed? H.V.: The answer to some of those questions (laughs) - we were told what to say. EBCN: I understand. Well, in light of what we all know now about M.J., he might have been one of those guys who wasnít quite as dedicated to the music as others around him. H.V.: Yeah, he wasnít very dedicated to managing the band as a manager either. He was more dedicated to making something for himself. EBCN: Thatís unfortunately the way I understand it. Hilton, this has been wonderful. I want to thank you on behalf of the EBCN readership. I wish you well on your musical endeavors and good luck on your desire to come over to the States with the band. Who knows, maybe if you played a couple of California dates Eric could join in for a gig or two. As a member of the fan club I can tell you that it would be like dying and going to heaven to see you and John together with Eric again (Hilton laughs). It would be cool. What do you think? H.V.: I think it would be great! EBCN: Several other bands that originated back then when you did are out on the road. We, your fans, hope to see you soon. H.V.: Letís hope so. EBCN: Thanks a lot, Hilton.