Monday, 31 January 2022

RIP Don Wilson Of The Ventures


Don Wilson, guitarist for the classic 1960's Instro/Surf band The Ventures died Jan.22 at the age of 88. The Ventures were the first guitar instrumental band (as opposed to solo artists like Dick Dale, Link Wray and Duane Eddy) to have multiple hits, at least in the USA, in Britain there were the Shadows and the Tornados. As such they would be a huge influence on future generations of Surf guitarists. Their two guitarists Wilson and Nokie Edwards (who died in 2018) were different from reverb drenched singles of Link Wray, Dick Dale or Duane Eddy. Hailing from Tacoma, Washington they also differed from the loud crunchy Northwest Coast bands like The Wailers, Sonics, Kingsmen and Paul Revere & the Raiders. Instead played mid-tempo, clean, clear, very precise melodic lines closer to those of Chet Atkins and Les Paul.


They would score a series of hits starting with "Walk Don't Run" in 1960 and carrying on with a series of lesser hits including versions of hits done by similar bands like the Tornados "Telstar" and the "Hawaii 5-0" theme. As the sixties told hold for real and instro bands fell out of fashion the Ventures, unlike their similar contemporaries continued to be reasonably successful albeit as an album act rather than a singles hit-makers especially with theme albums like "The Ventures In Space" (1964) and "Christmas With The Ventures" (1965) becoming cult favorites. Besides America they would find success in Japan where they would become highly influential in the sixties spawning soundalike bands.


They would in fact carry on into the seventies with albums of instro versions of hits from the disparate likes of Led Zeppelin, George Harrison, Issac Hayes, Cat Stevens, Booker T, Cher, Steve Winwood, Tito Puente and Paul Anka, a similar track taken by their UK fellows the Shadows although unlike them the Ventures managed to update their sound somewhat, the Zeppelin cover is actually pretty heavy. By the mid seventies the Rock & Roll Revival scene brought about a change in fortune for surviving artists from the early R&R era and the Ventures would hit carry on as touring act to the present. In the Punk era the R&R Revival scene would lead to a second generation of Rockabilly, Surf and Garage bands with the Ventures influence showing up in the likes of the Shadowy Men, the Raybeats and Los Straitjackets. The Ventures would continue as a touring band until the recent deaths of original members Nokie Edwards and Don Wilson.


Coincidentally last year, in time for Halloween as a project I took a couple tracks from the classic "Ventures In Space" album; "Twilight Zone" and "Out Of Limits" and slowed them down 100% then found some appropriate visuals for a haunted spacey soundtrack.



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