Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

VENTURES, The

An instrumental rock'n'roll group formed in 1959: Don Wilson (b 10 February 1937) and Bob Bogle (b 16 June 1937; d 14 June 2009), guitars; Nokie Edwards (b 9 May 1939), bass; and Howie Johnson, drums. Based in Seattle, they were first called the Versatones; they pressed copies of their infectious 'Walk Don't Run' on their own Blue Horizon label and mailed it to radio stations: picked up by Dolton it made no. 2 USA/8 UK '60. Their clean, bright sound and bags of tremolo was distinctively different from the prevalent raunchy instrumental sound (cf. Johnny and the Hurricanes) and was copied by countless other groups; the Shadows were their equivalent in the UK. Wilson and Bogel gave up building work for full-time music.

'Perfidia', a cover of a Latin tune c.1939 by Alberto Dominguez, made no. 15 USA/4 UK, but the band gave up singles for albums: two more hit singles were a remake of 'Walk Don't Run' '64 and the theme from TV show 'Hawaii Five-O' '69; but 37 of their over 50 albums charted '60-72. They had major popularity in Japan, where instrumental music transcended the language barrier; albums of covers of hits of the day kept them afloat through the British Invasion. Many LPs were for Japan only, where they were made the first foreign members of the Conservatory of Music in recognition of 40m-plus sales. Johnson was a car-crash casualty, replaced by Mel Taylor '63, while Edwards and Bogle swapped instruments; guest and session players included Harvey Mandel, Leon Russell and David Gates. Edwards was replaced by seasoned sessioneer Jerry McGhee (Everly Brothers etc), who pushed them in an R&B direction, but returned in '72. They rocked for a long time.