The Ventures

The Ventures

Synopsis of Pop Music

Although they aren’t often heard on the radio today, instrumental hits were a staple of pop music well into the 1970’s. They ranged from gimmick tunes to pop adaptations of classical music, and the bands that performed them usually ended up as one-hit wonders. Defying those odds, the Ventures were able to turn this style of music into a full-fledged career by letting their sound evolve, incorporating trends like surf and psychedelia as they popped up. In the process, the Ventures scored several hits with their tight, catchy instrumental rock sound and influenced aspiring rockers all over the world to form their own bands.

The story of the Ventures began in 1959 when a rock combo called the Impacts decided to forsake vocal tunes to ‘go instrumental.’ They began gigging in Washington and recorded a pop version of the Chet Atkins tune “Walk, Don’t Run” in their spare time. It matched a catchy beat to a moody twin-guitar sound and got the Ventures some airplay after a deejay friend decided to use it as a lead-in to his news stories. It became popular with listeners and thus came to the attention of a record company who gave the group a contract. In 1960, “Walk Don’t Run” was released nationally and became a #2 hit.

The Ventures continued to score single hits with pop-inflected rockers like "Perfidia" and "Ram-Bunk-Shush." However, they found their biggest success in the album field when they decided to build albums around themes. The first was The Colorful Ventures, which consisted of tunes that mentioned a color in their title like “Blue Moon” and “Yellow Bird.” After realizing their music was popular at parties, the Ventures also began making danceable albums like Twist With The Ventures. They gradually expanded their studio sound to include elements like horns, strings and a vocal chorus.

In 1963, the Ventures scored their biggest album hit with The Ventures Play Telstar and the Lonely Bull, an album of instrumental covers. The next year, they recorded one of their most influential albums, The Ventures In Space, which used high-tech effects to achieve a spacey, hard-driving sound that made it a favorite with fellow rock groups like the Who. Meanwhile, the Ventures continued to incorporate new trends into their sound. They tackled surf music on albums like Surfing and scored a hit with "Walk Don’t Run ‘64," a surf-styled remake of their first hit.

The Ventures also made an important contribution to rock music in the 1960’s by releasing a series of albums entitled Play Guitar With The Ventures. These instructional albums included guides that helped would-be rockers learn how to play guitar Ventures-style. The group also continued to record theme albums throughout the end of the 1960’s and frequently tackled psychedelia on outings like Flights of Fantasy and Super Psychedelics. They scored a major international hit in 1969 when they recorded the driving, surf-style theme for the classic television show Hawaii Five-O.

After this hit, the Ventures begin to concentrate their efforts on foreign markets, especially Japan. They become favorites on Japanese shores after a groundbreaking 1965 tour and would eventually record special albums exclusively for Japan like The Latin Album. They continued to record throughout the 70’s, incorporating such styles as funk, reggae and disco into their repertoire. The group also did albums built around particular songwriters, like The Ventures Play The Jim Croce Songbook. The Ventures slowed down a bit in the 80’s, but still continued to record and tour on a regular basis.

Recently, the Ventures have entered their fifth decade as a group. Their groundbreaking work was given the recognition it deserves in 1996 when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That year, they also participated in a series of concerts held by the Smithsonian Institute to commemorate the invention of the electric guitar. Today, the Ventures continue to play sold-out concerts at locations as far and wide as San Diego and Tokyo. To many a pop fan, they are and will always be the original instrumental rockers.

Artist Release History

1961 - The Ventures
1961 - Another Smash!!!
1961 - The Colorful Ventures
1962 - Dance! (Twist with the Ventures)
1962 - Dance with the Ventures (The Ventures Twist)
1962 - The Ventures' Beach Party (Mashed Potatoes)
1962 - Going to the Ventures' Dance Party!
1962 - The Ventures Play Telstar, The Lonely Bull
1963 - Surfing Dolton
1963 - Bobby Vee Meets the Ventures
1963 - I Walk the Line (Ventures Play the Country)
1963 - Let's Go!
1963 - Ventures in Space Dolton
1964 - The Fabulous Ventures
1964 - Walk Don't Run, Vol. 2
1965 - The Ventures Knock Me Out!
1965 - Play Guitar with the Ventures, Vol. 2
1965 - Play Guitar with the Ventures, Vol. 3
1965 - Play Guitar with the Ventures, Vol. 4
1965 - Play Guitar with the Ventures
1965 - The Ventures in Japan (live)
1965 - The Ventures on Stage (live)
1965 - Ventures A Go-Go
1965 - The Ventures in Japan, Vol. 2 (live)
1965 - The Ventures' Christmas Album Razor & Tie
1966 - Where the Action Is!
1966 - All About the Ventures
1966 - Batman Theme (The Ventures)
1966 - Go with the Ventures!

Pop Sub Categories


Essential Music Albums

Walk Don’t Run – The Best Of The Ventures (EMI)
Play Telstar and the Lonely Bull/The Ventures In Space (EMI)

Band Members

Nokie Edwards lead guitar (1960-68, 1972-85)
Don Wilson guitar
Bob Bogle bass, guitar
Howie Johnson drums (1959-62)
Mel Taylor drums (1962-96)
Gerry McGee lead guitar (1968-72, 1985- )
John Durrill keyboards (1969-80)
Leon Taylor drums (1996- )

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