Ventures, The

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Ventures, The

Ventures, The, enormously successful instrumental group. Membership: Bob Bogle, gtr., bs. (b. Wagoner, Okla., Jan. 16, 1936); Don Wilson, gtr. (b. Tacoma, Wash., Feb. 10,1933); Noke Edwards, bs. (b. Noel Floyd Edwards, Lahoma, Okla., May 9, 1939); Skip Moore, drm.; Howie Johnson, drm. (b. 1938; d. 1988); Gerry McGee, gtr. (b. Eunice, La., Nov. 17); Mel Taylor, drm. (b. Brooklyn, N.Y, Sept. 24, 1933; d. Aug. 11, 1996); Leon Taylor, drm. (b. Johnson City, Tenn., Sept. 23, 1955).

Don Wilson sold a used car to Bob Bogle, who was in construction. Wilson asked Bogle for a job, and the two started working construction jobs together. As they got to know each other better, they both evinced a love of the guitar. They bought a couple of pawned acoustics and started playing together, eventually graduating to pawned electric guitars and the odd gig around the Tacoma area. They played as The Impacts and The Versatones with various rhythm sections before hooking up with Nokie Edwards and Skip Moore, at which point they changed their name to The Ventures. Their first, self-released single was “Cookies and Coke”.

One of the pieces in their repertoire was a cover of “Walk, Don´t Run” based on a version from a Chet Atkins record. Their take was twangy, with a heavy beat. Initially released on their own label, one of the local news shows started using it for theme music. Dolton Records picked up the single and it rose to #2 in the summer of 1960, presaging surf music. They followed that up with “Perfida,” another rocked-out version of a jazz tune that they rode to #15 that fall.

As well as the singles did, The Ventures debut album rose to #11. While they would have half a dozen Top 40 singles through the 1960s (their final being the theme from “Hawaii Five-0,” which rose to #4 in the spring of 1969), during the same period they charted 17 albums, three of which went gold. They manage to balance their distinctive sound and their versatility in genres from “The Twist” to disco, from country to reggae. This has kept them a popular live attraction to this day and allows them to maintain an impressive recording career in Europe and especially in Japan, mostly because instrumentais don’t require translation. Although they group has gone through numerous personnel changes, the core of Wilson and Bogle continues to power the quartet.


The Ventures (1961), Another Smash!!! (1961); The Colorful Ventures (1961); 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 (1962); Surfing (1963); Bobby Vee Meets the Ventures (1963); I Walk the Line (Ventures Play the Country...) (1963); Let’s Go!

(1963); Ventures in Space (1963); The Fabulous Ventures (1964); Walk Don’t Run, Vol. 2 (1964); The Ventures Knock Me Out! (1965); Play Guitar with the Ventures, Vols. 2-4 (1965); The Ventures in Japan, Vols. 1-2 (live; 1965); The Ventures on Stage (live; 1965); Ventures a Go-Go (1965); The Ventures’ Christmas Album (1965); Where the Action Is! (1966); All About the Ventures (1966); “Batman” Theme (The Ventures) (1966); Go with the Ventures! (1966); Wild Things! (1966); Guitar Freakout (1967); The Ventures on Stage Encore (live; 1967); Pops in Japan (1967); Super Psyche-delics (Changing Times) (1967); $1,000,000 Weekend (1967); Flights of Fantasy (1968); The Ventures Live Again (1968); Pops in Japan, Vol. 2 (1968); The Horse (The Ventures on the Scene) (1968); The Ventures in Tokyo ’68 (live; 1968); Underground Fire (1968); Hawaii Five-0 (1969); Swamp Rock (1969); The Ventures’ 10th Anniversary Album One Way (1970); Live! The Ventures (1970); Golden Pops (1970); New Testament (1971); Theme from “Shaft” (1971); Pops in Japan ’71 (live; 1971); The Ventures (1971); The Ventures on Stage ’71[live; 1971); Joy! The Ventures Play the Classics (1972); Rock & Roll Forever (1972); The Ventures on Stage ’72 (live; 1972); Pops in Japan ’73 (live; 1973); The Ventures on Stage ’73 (live; 1973); Only Hits One Way (1973); The Jim Croce Songbook (1974); The Ventures on Stage ’74 (live; 1974); The Ventures Special ’74 on Japanese Tour (live; 1974); The Ventures on Stage ’75 (live; 1975); Rocky Road (1976); Hollywood (1976); Sunflower ’76 (1976); The Ventures on Stage ’76 (live; 1976); TV Themes (1977); Live in Japan ’77 (1977); Latin Album (1979); The Ventures Original Four (1980); Super Live ’80 (1980); Chameleon (1980); 60’s Pops (1981); Pops in Japan ’81 (1981); St. Louis Memory (1982); The Last Album on Liberty (1982); The Ventures Today (1983); Live in Japan ’65 (1995); Wild Again (1997); New Depths (1998).

—Brock Helander