Feb. 10: Rhythm guitarist, Don Wilson of The Ventures - "Walk Don't Run " - is 78 today.

The instrumental rock band The Ventures were formed in 1958 in Tacoma, Washington. At first it was comprised of two masonry workers - Don Wilson and Bob Bogle. 
 This modest beginning has had a lasting impact on rock and roll all over the world and they became known as "The Band that Launched a Thousand Bands."

The Ventures have sold over 100 million records, and to date are the best-selling instrumental band of all time.
The Ventures were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

Though their popularity in the United States waned in the 1970s, the group remains revered in Japan, where they still tour regularly to this day.
Don Wilson and Bob Bogle first met in 1958, when Bogle was looking to buy a used car from a dealership owned by Wilson's father. Finding a common interest in guitars, the two decided to play together, while Wilson joined Bogle performing masonry work.

 Initially calling themselves The Versatones, the duo played small clubs, beer bars, and private parties throughout the Pacific Northwest. While Wilson played rhythm guitar, Bogle played lead. After watching him play at a nightclub, they recruited Nokie Edwards as bass player.

Bogle owned a Chet Atkins LP, Hi Fi in Focus, on which he heard the song "Walk Don't Run." Soon enough, the group was in a recording studio playing the new song, with Bogle on lead, Wilson on rhythm, Edwards on bass, and Skip Moore on drums. They pressed a number of 45s, which they distributed to several record companies.

Needing a permanent drummer for the group, they hired Howie Johnson, and, in the midst of a fast-paced touring schedule, they recorded an album to capitalize on the success of the single. The lineup of Bogle, Wilson, Edwards and Johnson remained intact until 1962.

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Very Best of the Ventures

The group found early success with a string of singles, but would quickly become leaders in the album market. The Ventures were one of the pioneers of the early concept album idea, where, starting with 1961's The Colorful Ventures, each song on their albums was chosen to fit a specific theme.

Some of the Ventures' most popular albums at the time were a series of records of dance music. In the early 1960s "golden age of hi-fi," and with the novelty of stereo still in its experimental stages, The Ventures found their characteristic style of recording each instrument in either the extreme left, or right channel, with little cross-over, enhancing the stereo effect to its fullest limits.

In 1962, Johnson was injured in an auto crash. They invited Mel Taylor, house drummer at The Palomino in North Hollywood to join The Ventures. Taylor had performed as drummer on the Bobby "Boris" Pickett hit "Monster Mash," The Hollywood Argyles' "Alley Oop" and "The Lonely Bull" by Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass. Taylor was known for a very aggressive, hard-hitting style of drumming.

Their commercial fortunes in the US declined sharply in the early 1970s due to changing musical trends. In the late 1970s and into the 1980s, a resurgence of interest in surf music led to some in the punk/new wave audience rediscovering the band. The Go-Go's wrote "Surfin' And Spyin'" and dedicated it to The Ventures. The Ventures recorded their own version and continue to occasionally perform the song.

1965- In Japan
The Ventures became one of the most popular groups worldwide thanks in large part to their instrumental approach—there were no language barriers to overcome.

The Ventures are still the most popular American rock group in Japan, the world's second largest record market. They produced dozens of albums exclusively for the Japanese and European markets, and have regularly toured Japan from the 1960s through to the present.