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January 24, 2022 5:22 AM   Subscribe

As one of the founding members of the Ventures and the composer of the original Hawaii Five-O theme, Don Wilson was a legend in the genre of surf guitar, in spite of never intending to be part of the subculture's scene. While at home, Wilson passed away at the age of 88.
posted by Smart Dalek (21 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

The rock instrumental genre was really a thing back in the day, and The Ventures were at the forefront for a good long spell. Along with the Shadows and a few other acts, they seemed to be a constant part of my background.

Twang on, Mr Wilson.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:00 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]

The role of the Ventures, and commercial surf music in general, in getting tens of thousands of kids to pick up the guitar - all over the world, but particularly in the US, and especially in California - is hard to overstate.

The Beatles set the template and the benchmark, but playing in surf + grungy, Wailers/Sonics Tacoma-style R+B bands provided the musical training + showmanship boot camp that gave many, many people making music in the later 60s + 70s the necessary leg up. US pop culture of the era would have been radically different (and way, way duller) without them.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:12 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]

posted by GenjiandProust at 6:15 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

A lot of music sounds dated after a few years, but the Ventures' sound always hits my ear like it's Day One brand new.

. and ๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽถ
posted by wenestvedt at 6:22 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]

I have a long list of shows I've missed (Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Prince's last show ...) but, by Dog, I saw the Ventures in the fall of 1985 at the Lone Star Cafe in NYC. It was everything it was supposed to be. RIP.
posted by donpardo at 6:47 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]

The rock instrumental genre was really a thing back in the day

Freddie King, 1961
posted by thelonius at 6:55 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]

The Ventures were the first band 5th grade me got into. My next door neighbor and I would listen to his older brother's albums in amazement.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:56 AM on January 24

Hahahaha....Wipeout :(
posted by briank at 7:06 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]

posted by Dysk at 7:20 AM on January 24

Nothing about Hawaii Five-0, including the music, worked for me. But, Telstar makes me happy every time I remember that it exists. That would be enough. But, there are also hours of other really interesting music.

posted by eotvos at 7:33 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]

For me, it's Walk Don't Run, 1960. Damn.
posted by vers at 7:44 AM on January 24

The Ventures do have quite the discography.

A few more or less random selections:

The Creeper -- check out the heaviness of that 1964 guitar.
Rap City
Peach Fuzz
One Mint Julep
Out of Limits
Taste of Honey
Psychedelic Venture
Stranger on the Shore
posted by philip-random at 7:58 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]

You sir, will be missed.
This is a great track too. Most of them are.

posted by evilDoug at 8:00 AM on January 24

posted by Silverstone at 9:22 AM on January 24

My Ventures trip began with this Golden Greats by the ... LP. Later, I'd learn that these versions were all covers except for 'Walk, Don't Run' but I still favor their version of Telstar.
posted by Rash at 10:11 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

But, Telstar makes me happy every time I remember that it exists.

Oh yeah! I haven't thought of that tune in ages, and you're right. It's burned into my brain for instant recall from repeat listens to the above-mentioned Golden Greats as a kid.

I had no idea that these existed until I looked through that Discogs list, but it looks like a Ventures fan channel has uploaded these two albums:


posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:46 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]

The most recent issue (49) of The Fretboard Journal has a really cool article on the history of "Walk, Don't Run" and how the Ventures got started, with an interview with Wilson (and others involved with the band). They all just seemed like really charming guys.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 12:25 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]

posted by Gotanda at 3:34 PM on January 24

The Hawaii Five-O theme song was written by Morton Stevens.

Which does nothing to diminish Don Wilson's stature.

posted by bryon at 6:18 PM on January 24

From an unrelated article in The Industry Observer,
The whole trope of a foreign band being "big in Japan" is one thatโ€™s been done to death.

In the 1960s surf garage rockers The Ventures were arguably the instigators of the cliché. The band was so popular their records outsold the Beatles by a ratio of two to one, and now, 66 years after their formation an incarnation of the group still tours the country on an annual basis.
... and digging way down into said group's Wikipedia page, a pointer to a Finnish genre called Rautalanka or 'iron wire' music.
Worldwide, the best known representative of this style is the British band The Shadows, who have visited Finland several times. Their American counterparts are The Ventures, whose song "Walk, Don't Run" was a hit in Finland [and] the first real Finnish rautalanka hit was Emma by The Sounds.
posted by Rash at 8:07 PM on January 24

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