Books for Everyone!

Summer 2022

The Ventures

Six summers — and counting — since I’ve ventured to the coast.

The California Coast, to be specific. I’ve not ventured there since May 2016. The sights, the sounds, the smells: appalling, all of them.

Carmel, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Asilomar, they’re hypodermic-needle havens with run-down written all over them. My first, last, and only, response during that last trip to the seaside was:

Run, don’t walk! This place is a real Wipeout!

I’ve since come to rely upon the music of The Ventures to put me in the frame of mind, and mood - of the ocean.

To go to any beach in the Golden State is to NOT feel the carefree, pulsating pleasure of the Surfer Music that once made this state THE place to go. Or, at least, the place for surfers to congregate in their worship of the wave form.

I’ve never surfed. I used to body-surf (without fins — it was just my body and the wave) in the Atlantic Ocean during my “youth”. The entire concept of lugging a heavy and potentially deadly expanse of fiberglass board into the ocean, and then trying to mount the moving horizontal surface while the waves attempt to clobber (sabotage) me: it’s not the type of challenge that motivates this free spirit.

The music of The Ventures motivates me — positively!

Just the name alone is inspirational.

I do not know how the founding members, Bob Bogle (1934-2009) and Don Wilson (1933-2022), chose this name for their highly original music group, but the name defines an entire philosophy toward life. That philosophy meshes with this wahine.

In 1958, Bogle and Wilson, living in the far-off and not yet-famous city of Tacoma, Washington, momentously formed this band. The instruments initially consisted of, basically — guitars (rhythm, lead, bass) and drums.

Simplicity was the key to success for this band.

Much more crucial, though, was the rhythmically quick and driving melody set to a type of instrumental mood that is energetic, rocking, fun, and fundamentally American. The sound of The Ventures is more than a sound, or a surfer subset of beach music that was monotonously hyped and pitched by The Beach Boys (whose sounds I have always disregarded as mass-marketed more than authentically generated).

The creative duo of Bogle and Wilson was joined in the early 1960s by guitarist Nole Floyd “Nokie” Edwards (1935-2018) on the recording of “Walk, Don’t Run.” The rest, as they say, is history, music history at that.

This first wide-release single of The Ventures was an enormous smash hit, worldwide. Hitting #1 on the USA Billboard’s Singles Chart on 18 July 1960, “Walk, Don’t Run” remains one of the most frequently recorded songs for guitar in the history of such things as Electric-Guitar Recording. The Ventures remain the best-selling instrumental band of all time.

All time.

Can the current crop of moronic promoters, marketers, and advertisers even start to comprehend that duration?

That scene is too far-out for them!

Over the years, changes were made to the original Ventures, with musicians being added and subtracted, and replaced, but one constant remained, and remains constant: the unique and innovative quality of their pioneering sound. Ingenious, daring, spirited, fresh, the tunes by The Ventures rebelled against type.

Cutting-edge doesn’t begin to cut it. While American rock n’ roll groups, and rock bands, and garage ensembles went in search of The Next Big Hit, The Ventures stayed with their wave of instrumental excellence and inventiveness. They rode one crest after another, not always selling, but not vanishing from that sea of rad sounds that became classics.

The next time you’re in a funk, or want to achieve that Perfect 10, but you look around, and all you see, and hear, and smell are people who can’t hang loose — put on some music by The Ventures. Venture into a swinging world of wayout wonderfulness:

Pure talent, pure motion, pure pulse, pure beat, pure breakers!

Gotta go. Surf’s up with the next swell spectacular song by The Ventures!