Hilton Valentine, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee and guitarist of the original Animals, famous for such songs as “The House of the Rising Sun” — approached Eclectic Gorilla Studios with an intriguing offer — “How would you like to come to England and film a music video for us?” I had no reservations and jumped at the chance.
A love letter to another time.
The River Tyne video was nearly 50 years in the making. Back in 1969, Hilton went to California to record his first solo album All In Your Head and ended up living there for several years. About a year into it, Hilton was feeling very homesick. It was Summer, 1970 in Laurel Canyon, he found himself sitting on the rooftop contemplating where he was in his life. He was feeling the warm air, looking up at the blue skies, yet longing for the cold winds and dampness of Northeast England when suddenly the words to River Tyne just started flowing. He recorded it onto a cassette tape and forgot about it.
In 1998 Hilton’s wife, Germaine, stumbled upon the song whilst rifling through his cassette collection. She knew about the solo LP, “All In Your Head,” but the tracks on this cassette were different. He had never spoken about any other recordings. Intrigued, she popped it into the cassette player and started listening, fast forwarding through the first 3 songs. But then “River Tyne” started. Immediately, her ears were fully engaged, “I started getting goosebumps, and there I sat mesmerized by the lyrics; the anguish coming through the vocals,” she says. “The song ended. I ran to the phone, dialed Hilton and excitedly started asking him about this song.”
Hilton couldn’t place the song and asked her to repeat the title. She played the tape over the phone. She stopped it and exclaimed, "You have GOT to record this! This song is fantastic! I feel how much you miss your homeland." He had forgotten all about the song. He came home and played it and it transported him back to 1970 remembering the feelings that led to the creation of the song. "Not bad" he said. Again, he went on tour and the song got shelved, collecting dust until their move to the States at the end of 1999 where it sat in a box until 2004. Hilton had stopped touring with the band and Germaine suggested he play his acoustic guitar solo. She remembered the tape and had him listen to it in its entirety. He found another song on that tape he liked as well, so he practiced them, wrote a couple more songs, and they booked a studio to record them for a proper release; the CD It's Folk 'N' Skiffle, Mate!.
Jump to 2019 when Germaine and Hilton approached me about doing a video for the song River Tyne. We jumped on a plane and flew to Newcastle, UK, stumbled into a rental car and started filming guerrilla style. Germaine says, “For the guitar solo on River Tyne I remembered that my brother had a Rotovibe effects pedal and suggested to Hilton that he try it because it makes a watery type effect. He loved it! When we viewed the video for the first time I was so excited to see the water effects added to the video during the guitar solo! I hadn't mentioned anything to you about it and the fact that you created visually what Hilton and the Rotovibe created audibly must have been kismet! This video was worth the wait!”