Rhythmic guitarist Don Wilson, co-founder of mainstream surf music the Ventures, has died aged 88, his family said Saturday.
His family said in a statement he passed away peacefully of natural causes early in the morning with his four older children at his side in his hometown of Tacoma, Washington.
“Our father was an amazing rhythm guitar player who touched people all over the world with his band, Ventures,” son Tim Wilson said in the statement.
Wilson is the last living member of the band.
The Ventures have sold more than 100 million records and are the best-selling rock group in history, according to the band’s website and Wilson. Among the band’s most familiar and notable records is the version of the theme of the television’s original “Hawaii Five-O” show and it brand, left wave.
Although based along the Puget Sound, nearly 100 miles from the icy waves and nearly 2,700 miles from the birthplace of surfing in Hawaii, Wilson and fellow builder Bob Bogle, both rockers, have made it. band in the Pacific Northwest in 1958.
That was the year before the movie “Gidget” helped propel surf culture to a national boom, and three years before the Beach Boys began harping on beach life from its Hawthorne, California, base. The Ventures even predates Dick Dale’s early 1960s rise from country musician to “surf guitar king”.
Dale described his screaming licks as rhythmic it’s “like I’m playing the drums.” It is perhaps no coincidence that Wilson anchored Ventures with rhythm guitar.
When he introduced Ventures in Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival said, “Its sound has become surf music, and its audacity has empowered guitarists everywhere.”
Wilson seems to agree with that statement. He has previously argued that Venture was adopted by the surfing craze of the 60s, not vice versa.
In a 2020 email interview with People to announce the release of his documentary, “The Ventures: Stars on Guitars,” produced with the help of his family, the co-founders of the band said, “We never set our sights on being a surf band.”
“Honestly, I love playing surf music — it’s fun and makes you feel good,” says Wilson. “But we never really considered ourselves a surf band. All of this came together – surf culture, electric guitars, Americana – when we formed in the early 1960s. ”
Wilson, a fan of country and western, the Glenn Miller Orchestra and Tommy Dorsey, began strumming chords on the ukulele-like Spanish tiple as a young boy. After graduating from high school, he served 19 months in the United States Army. When he returned, he was hooked on guitar, like many of his generation.
It is said that the Joint Venture was first formed about 30 miles north of Wilson’s hometown, although the Tacoma and Seattle news media both claim the band as its own.
The book is endorsed by the band, “The Ventures Essential Album Disc,” said Wilson’s mother, Josie Wilson, helped the duo record their first track.
Wilson and Bogle used the name Versatones for their first gigs, but according to the book, they discovered that name was already in use. They decide to join the Venture to represent the duo venturing into a new career.
The duo was joined by another guitarist, Nokia Edwards, who is credited more than anyone else with the band’s gliding guitar sound. With an Oklahoman influence, jazz guitarist Johnny Smith’s version of “Walk Don’t Run” hit the singles chart in 1960 and eventually peaked at #2.
Bogle plays bass and guitar. Mel Taylor on drums and Gerry McGee on another guitar rounded out the group, finding its niche in instrumental pieces.
When the group performing “Walk Don’t Run” on Dick Clark’s TV show of the same name in 1960, he introduced the tune, which, with its familiar go-go drum and surf tune, was “probably the biggest instrumental record of the day.”
The band survived lineup changes and even death by continuing with new members, including drummer Leon Taylor, who joined in 1996 to fill the shoes of their father too. my great-grandfather, Mel. Wilson continued to perform with touring activities until his retirement in 2015.
With his departure, the Ventures may have ridden their last wave.
“He will have his place in history forever and be loved and appreciated by many,” said son Tim. “He will be ignored.”
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/obituaries/surf-music-pioneer-don-wilson-dead-88-rcna13242 Surf music pioneer Don Wilson dies aged 88