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The Ventures!

December 21, 2007

It’s no secret that I am a  Ventures fan.  It thrills me that they are going into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (class of 2008), but it really bugs me that a) it took so long (they’re going in at the same time as Madonna, the Beastie Boys and Mellencamp?  You gotta be kidding me!) and b) that where the press is concerned they are a mere footnoteThey were the 6th biggest album-selling pop act of the 1960s! 

I love to pick up my guitar and hit that big A, G, F, E chord progression (Walk, Don’t Run).  Then I play the lead part.  Yes, that’s the ultimate guitar song for the generation previous to my own, but I can’t help loving it.  It’s more fun to play than Stairway to Heaven, and it won’t freak out children of the ’80s (like myself) who sat through those godawful “rock seminars” (like I did) where someone played Stairway backwards, told you what to listen for, and then convinced you that Satan would snatch away your very soul if you listened to rock music.  Yes, by listening to that evil rock music you were unconsciously worshiping the devil!

But I digress.   Man, if you don’t love the Ventures, I’m pretty sure you just don’t like guitar music.

Many Ventures fans consider 1962-1968 to be the Ventures’ prime, sometimes referred to as “the Nokie years.”  Nokie Edwards is an incredible guitarist.  He originally played bass for the Ventures but in 1962 he proposed switching places with Bob Bogle (the original lead guitarist) and Bogle agreed.  Nokie seems to suffer from a short attention span, though, and has been a member of the Ventures off and on ever since.

Personally, my favorite Nokie-era Ventures tune is their arrangement of “Slaughter on 10th Avenue,” which features some very nimble fretwork by Mr. Edwards.  Nokie’s song “Surf Rider,” (originally entitled “Spudnik”) was featured in the movie Pulp Fiction (one of my favorites – and the soundtrack is outstanding) but in a cover version by The Lively Ones.  Both the Ventures original and the Lively Ones’ cover are excellent.  Their covers of Telstar and Apache are also essential Ventures tunes.

There’s nothing wrong with the Gerry McGee years either.  You can’t have a decent Ventures compilation without their huge hit version of Hawaii Five-O.  They rocked that one out.

So file this one in the “It’s about stinking time” category.  These guys inspired untold thousands of kids to pick up electric guitars.  And they’re still together, touring the world and recording.  And they’re still good.  I just hope they don’t get snubbed on the broadcast.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2008 10:40 pm

    Will,

    Speaking of Tele’s, what brand and guage string do you prefer to use when is it time to change strings?

    Rick >

  2. January 7, 2008 10:04 am

    I go to Guitar Center a couple of times a year and buy multi-packs of D’Addario XL 110’s, and I use ’em on all my (and my sons’) guitars. The .010’s are heavy enough for blues and surf but light enough for country twang. They’re the generic, jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none of guitar strings.

  3. January 7, 2008 1:14 pm

    Send me an email when you have the time.

    Rick >

  4. September 3, 2008 7:36 pm

    Hi, from an old fan,
    it was because of “The Ventures” I took up learning to play lead guitar early 1960’s “Walk Don’t Run”. My cousins and I also saw them perform live 1962 at a grange hall in Corte Madera, California.

    Thanks guys & blessings,

    Jerry

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