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The Ventures

Not the first but definitely the most popular rock instrumental combo, the Ventures scored several hit singles during the 1960s -- most notably "Walk-Don't Run" and "Hawaii Five-O" -- but made their name in the growing album market, covering hits of the day and organizing thematically linked LPs. Almost 40 Ventures' albums charted, and 17 hit the Top 40. And though the group's popularity in America virtually disappeared by the 1970s, their enormous contribution to pop culture was far from over; the Ventures soon became one of the most popular world-wide groups, with dozens of albums recorded especially for the Japanese and European markets. They toured continually throughout the 1970s and '80s -- influencing Japanese pop music of the time more than they had American music during the '60s.

The Ventures' origins lie in a Tacoma, Washington group called the Impacts. Around 1959, construction workers and hobby guitarists Bob Bogle and Don Wilson formed the group, gigging around Washington state and Idaho with various rhythm sections as backup. They recorded a demo tape, but after it was rejected by the Liberty Records subsidiary Dolton, the duo founded their own label, Blue Horizon. They released one vocal single ("Cookies and Coke"), then recruited bassist Nokie Edwards and drummer Skip Moore and decided to instead become an instrumental group.

The Ventures went into the studio in 1959 with an idea for a new single they had first heard on Chet Atkins' Hi Fi in Focus LP. Released on Blue Horizon in 1960, the single "Walk-Don't Run" became a big local hit after being aired as a news lead-in on a Seattle radio station (thanks to a friend with connections). In an ironic twist, Dolton Records came calling and licensed the single for national distribution; by summer 1960, it had risen to number two in the charts, behind only "It's Now or Never" by Elvis Presley. After Howie Johnson replaced Moore on drums, the Ventures began recording their debut album, unsurprisingly titled after their hit single.

Two singles, "Perfidia" and "Ram-Bunk-Shush," hit the Top 40 during 1960-61, but the Ventures soon began capitalizing on what became a trademark: releasing LPs which featured songs very loosely arranged around a theme implied in the title. The group's fourth LP, The Colorful Ventures, included "Yellow Jacket," "Red Top," "Orange Fire" and no less than three tracks featuring the word "blue" in the title. The Ventures put their indelible stamp on each style of '60s music they covered, and they covered many -- twist, country, pop, spy music, psychedelic, swamp, garage, TV themes. (In the '70s, the band moved on to funk, disco, reggae, soft rock and Latin music.) The Ventures' lineup changed slightly during 1962. Howie Johnson left the band, to be replaced by session man Mel Taylor; also, Nokie Edwards took over lead guitar with Bob Bogle switching to bass.

One of the few LPs not arranged around a theme became their best-selling; 1963's The Ventures Play Telstar, The Lonely Bull featured a cover of the number one instrumental hit by the British studio band the Tornadoes and produced by Joe Meek. Though their cover of "Telstar" didn't even chart, the album hit the Top Ten and became the group's first of three gold records. A re-write of their signature song -- entitled "Walk-Don't Run '64" -- reached number eight that year. By the mid-'60s however, the Ventures appeared to be losing their touch. Considering the volatility of popular music during the time, it was quite forgivable that the group would lose their heads-up knowledge of current trends in the music industry to forecast which songs should be covered. The television theme "Hawaii Five-O" hit number four in 1969, but the Ventures slipped off the American charts for good in 1972. Instead, the band began looking abroad for attention and -- in Japan especially -- they found it with gusto. After leaving Dolton/Liberty and founding their own Tridex Records label, the Ventures began recording albums specifically for the Japanese market. The group eventually sold over 40 million records in that country alone, becoming one of the biggest American influences on Japanese pop music ever.

Nokie Edwards left the Ventures in 1968 to pursue his interest in horse racing for a time, and was replaced by Gerry McGee; though he returned by 1972, Mel Taylor left the group that year for a solo career, to be replaced by Joe Barile. (Taylor returned also, in 1979.) By the early '80s, the Ventures' core quartet of Wilson, Bogle, Edwards and Taylor could boast of playing together for over 20 years. Though Edwards left the band for good in 1984 (replaced again by Gerry McGee) and Mel Taylor died mid-way through a Japanese tour in 1996 (replaced by his son Leon), the Ventures continued to pack venues around the world. ~ John Bush, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

landavazo1
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of ur life. Tomorrow will be the best day of ur life. Now you've started reading their don't stop. This is so scary post this on 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters. This is so scary because it actually works.
@stingraydad d y I was just thinking the same thing...I do love me some Pulp Fiction
I learned to play guitar after hearing the Ventures!
Can't listen to this and not think about Pulp Fiction
I luve tis sog
erickson009
The Pandora picture had to be an early one, every time I saw them, they had Mosrite guitars, not Fenders
sterrettbarb
Love it
squeax01
never get tired of the Ventures--th e y are the best
Oh my!!!!!excus e myself....A
Blocker} Not A Backer
nicko252008
60's rock Rules!
davidziffcoo k i n g
where's Hawaii 5-0?
These guys are so solid. Some of the best in the genre. Just bad baby!
sum1uwant2no 2 0 0 1
surf's up dude!
I love the sound of the Ventures and Santo and Johnny. There was an instrumental piece called Wipe Out back in the 60's, I would like to know played it.
Love Kent/Auburn ,WA, Wilson was there, at a small tavern for free
Kimom
Ko lol
Whao make me move
Surfs up!
Lol gman!
There is nothing better than 6-8' barrels and great surf music to make my day !!! keep it up ! Mahlo
I don't like this stuff, it assaults my ears
I love this stuff. So chill
Played this one the piano still do!
Don't forget The Ventures play The Country Classics. Great Album.
1. Close your eyes2. Say your name 3 times Make a wish4. Say your crushes name 2×5. Post to 4 songs and your crush will ask you out
Please add Tony Orlando & Dawn,Ben E King ,The Drifters, Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdink, The Ventures,
My e-mail is jeanechin@ya h o o . c o m
Much as I have always loved the Ventures, I have to concede that the original version by The Chantays is a little better.
OH MY!!!!!!! EXCUSE MYSELF..... A BLOCKER} NOT A BACKER.....
True originals w dick dale too..kick bak n ur beach chair smoke a fatty n enjoy aloha brah
Grew up listening to these guys. The reason I took up the guitar. I have this album and it is great. Not the originals, the guys got together in and re-recorded these in the 80s and 90s and they were on.
THERE IS NO BETTER INSTRUMENTAL GROUP, PERIOD!!!
buffalorfc
The best! The Elvis of instrumental Surf guitar!
Timeless timeless timeless
One of the all time great rock bands.
cef1953
The Ventures music always makes me feel happy and young(er)... Grew up listening to them.
Good times!!
jpventuresto n e
Been listening since I was 9. Heard Perfidia and No Trespassing on the radio in Florida and was a fan forever. Won that 45 in a radio contest and still have it. Got to see them in Cambridge, MA of all places! Gerry was lead, not Nokie and Leon was drumming. The best ever, they can and have played every type of music but hip-hop as one of you mentioned. Have been and will be forever a fan.
THE VENTURES, BEST INSTRUMENTAL BAND EVER
thomasglynn7 2
I have a new tele and want to hear the reverb on 10!
surfs up ... don't fall that's all
jimandconnie a
It may be hard to believe but the original drummer on Walk Don't Run is a 4 Star General in the Air Force. Look it up on UTube
TOO BAD THAT THEY WILL BE REMEMBERED BY MANY MIS-INFORMED AS THE BAND THAT PLAYED WIPEOUT!!! THAT CONFUSION / MISINFORMATI O N , HOWEVER, MANAGED TO HELP SKYROCKET THEIR CAREERS! THIS BAND WAS SECOND ONLY TO THE ORIGINAL BAND THE WHALERS, AND WERE SLIGHTLY AHEAD OF ANOTHER TACOMA BAND CALLED THE SONICS, BUT WERE CLOSELY FOLLOWED BY THE KINGSMEN (LOUIE, LOUIE), AND THE DOOBIE BROTHERS (EVEN THOUGH THEIR TIE TO THE WA MUSIC SCENE CAME FROM NEARBY ABERDEEN, WA)!! GREAT MUSIC FROM TACOMA
I listened to my brother's record..alwa y s loved this.
ny_gmenfan
My Dad started listening to the Ventures when they first started. He was just a teenager then. He raised me & my brother listening to the Ventures, too! LOL We played the Ventures during the visitation hour prior to my Dad's funeral a few years ago. I know he was smiling and drumming along!
popcornhaley
I've been listening to their music for 50 years and had all of their albums - now just listen via Pandora and remember all the good times.
Okie (but not from Muskogee.
jr_201255
surfs up dude better wax that board
Riding the school bus in jr high, we had about four kids drumming out wipeout on the seat backs at once.
jrankin975
Ride the Wild Surf!
surfrider_85
Often confused as a surf band, The Ventures predated the surf scene and have covered practically every style of music imaginable, save for maybe hip-hop. It's too bad they're remembered for only playing surf music when that's just one of the genres they've dabbled in. They're so much more than that.
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