Instrumentalists: The Ventures

Gary: What group made the Mosrite guitar famous?

The Mosrite Guitar

Originally out of Bakersfield California
– very expensive and also pretty popular.

The Ventures

I was a huge fan of this group, purchased lots of vinyl.  I could never play guitar anywhere close to as well as they could, but I still enjoyed…

It is so very sad that this group is revered around the world, especially in Japan, but not in North America!

  • Bob Bogle (guitar, bass; born January 16, 1934, died June 14, 2009)
  • Nokie Edwards (lead guitar, bass; born May 9, 1935)
  • Mel Taylor (drums; born September 24, 1933, died August 11, 1996),
  • Don Wilson (guitar; born February 10, 1933)


Wipe Out / 
Walk Don’t Run / Perfidia /
45th Anniversary in Japan (where they are revered, but we have forgotten them, sad) /

1990 Caravan / Great Drum Solo from Mel Taylor
1984 / House of the Rising Sun
Yes they use Fender Stratocaster’s and Fender Bass.
Hawaii Five O /


Their Music

1.   Walk-Don’t Run/ Dolton 25/ 7/25/60/ #2 Billboard

2.   Perfidia/ Dolton 28/ 11/14/60/ #15 Billboard

3.   Ram-Bunk-Shush/ Dolton 32/ 2/13/61/ #29 Billboard

4.   Walk-Don’t Run ’64/ Dolton 96/ 8/1/64/ #8 Billboard

5.   Slaughter On Tenth Avenue/ Dolton 300/ 11/21/64/ #35 Billboard

6.   Hawaii Five-O/ Liberty 56068/ 4/12/69/ # 4 Billboard

And some of my Favourites

1.   Torquay

2.   Driving Guitars (album cut)

3.   Bulldog (album Cut)

4.   Gone Gone Gone

5.   Guitar Twist

6. Whittier Blvd / 1965 Dolton LP / which I purchased for $4 but now is $75 (inflation)

The Ventures’ nucleus came together in 1958, when Don Wilson and Bob Bogle met on a car lot in Tacoma, Washington. The two guitarists played as a duo before hooking up with guitarist/bassist Nokie Edwards and drummer Howie Johnson.

They performed as “The Impacts” and “The Versatones” before settling on “The Ventures”. “We were venturing into a different style of music, and the name would give us room to expand”, Wilson told journalist Robert J. Dalley.

The Ventures self-released two singles on their Blue Horizon label, including “Walk – Don’t Run,” released in 1960. When that song became popular on local radio stations, Seattle-based Dolton Records (a Liberty affiliate) signed the group and reissued the single. It became a #2 national hit, and an instrumental standard, selling 2 million copies. A new version, retitled “Walk – Don’t Run ’64” and done in a surf-guitar style, also made the Top Ten.

The Ventures kept abreast of the latest hits, cutting instrumental versions while they were still fresh in the public’s mind. In addition, the Ventures came up with unifying album concepts that were unique and timely. Ventures in Space (1963) consisted of space-themed songs around the time NASA was firing up the public’s imagination. Every song on The Colorful Ventures (1961) had a color in its title. Their collection of seasonal music, The Ventures’ Christmas Album (1965), charted annually for four years.

Great Video – Wipe Out:

The group ventured into any musical area that grabbed their fancy. They tapped into the surf-music craze with Surfing (1963). When rock went psychedelic, they cut a brace of albums – Guitar Freakout, Super Psychedelics, Flights of Fantasy and Underground Fire – in that sonically expressive style.

The Ventures even cut material exclusively for the Japanese market, as they are highly revered in that country, even outselling the Beatles there in their heyday. The group became paragons of pop culture and foremost ambassadors of the electric guitar in Japan.

Recalling their 1965 tour, Don Wilson told Goldmine, “It seemed like every group in Japan knew only our songs. If a group played 100 songs, they were all Ventures songs.”

The Ventures were eventually accorded the Grand Prix award for their contributions to Japanese music.

The Ventures’ startling, horn-filled arrangement of the “Hawaii Five-O” theme returned them to the Top Five in 1969. Although it was their last major hit, the group continued to chart albums through 1972’s Joy/The Ventures Play the Classics.

Even after dropping off the American charts, the Ventures maintained a flourishing career as touring and recording artists, and they remain especially popular in Europe and Japan – as well as among surf-music aficionados on the West Coast – to this day.

There have been relatively few personnel changes since the group’s inception. Original drummer Howie Johnson broke his neck in a 1961 car accident and was unable to handle extensive touring. Mel Taylor replaced him in 1962. This cemented the classic Ventures lineup of Don Wilson, Bob Bogle, Nokie Edwards and Mel Taylor.

In 1968 Edwards left to go solo and was replaced on lead guitar by Gerry McGee. Edwards returned to the fold in 1972 and remained until late 1984. Once again, he was replaced by McGee, who remains with the group and continues to tour with them in Japan. Bob Bogle retired from touring in December 2004 and was replaced by Bob Spalding.

Today’s lineup comprises Don Wilson, Bob Spalding (who first appeared live with the group in 1981), Gerry McGee, and Leon Taylor (who replaced his late father Mel in 1996). Nokie Edwards still joins them on selected dates.

OK, so I will admit to always being a big fan of Instrumentals.  It is a form of music that lasted from the mid Fifties to the mid Sixties but, sadly, is now pretty much extinct; – too bad!  We lost a great art form.

For a complete album Discography, you can visit this site:



6 responses to “Instrumentalists: The Ventures

  1. There are some songs or instrumentals you can never get tired of. The Ventures’ “Walk don’t run” is one of them. I must have heard this record 2000 times, and still crank up the sound when I play the ‘oldies’ CD.

  2. Marilyn Stuart

    Pat O’Day was the DJ who brought rock and roll to Seattle back in the 50’s and 60’s on AM KJR, Channel 95. It was the station that teenagers listened to and when he played a song, it become a hit, which is what happened to the Ventures with “Walk Don’t Run.” I believe Pat O’Day had a part in it both that song and the Ventures becoming nationally known.
    I agree that it’s one of those songs that when I hear it today, I too still crank up the volume and in the back of my mind I expect to hear my mother’s voice saying, “Please turn down that radio! You’ll wake up the neighbors in the next block!”

  3. Hi Russ, It is interesting that you started this page with the Mosrite guitar. I heard that this guitar had a long and complicated life. Apparently, the Ventures went into a business deal with the founder of Mosrite – luthier Semie Moseley. They sunk a lot of money into it as an investment and to manufacture the instruments with their logo. Things were rosy for a while and then things went horribly bad. Mosrite went bankrupt and The Ventures lost quite a lot of money out of it.

    I personally preferred the guitars they started with. This was Bob on Fender Jazzmaster, Don on Fender Stratocaster and Nokie on Fender Precision bass. Later, Nokie would take over lead guitar and Bob went onto bass. Two things, I would be interest to know the exact year that Nokie and Bob swapped instruments. Also, the year they dropped Fender and moved to the Mosrite

    An interesting note about the cover photo of their first Vinyl LP “Walk, Don’t Run” produced in 1960. It is not The Ventures holding the guitars behind the girl. The Ventures were out of town on tour. The record company could not wait, so they rushed in some of their employees for the photo shoot. For many years, I thought Bob Bogle played a Gibson 335 on Walk Don’t Run. Wrong.

    In 1961, their next vinyl LP called “The Ventures” is correct, and it shows Bob Bogle still on lead holding the Jazzmaster.

    The Colorful Ventures – 1961 – shows Bob with the Jazzmaster; Don with the Stratocaster.

    In 1963, their 11th album “Bobby Vee Meets The Ventures” shows Don and Bob holding Jazzmasters while Nokie is holding the Fender precision. I thought Nokie had taken over lead guitar by this time?

    1963 again, their 12th album “The Ventures Play The Country classics” has a sketch of them on the front cover. It looks like Bob is on bass and Nokie is on lead this time. The sketch is not that detailed, but it looks like Fenders are still being used.

    In 1964, “The Fabulous ventures”. The sketch on the front cover looks like Mosrite guitars.

    1964. “Walk, don’t Run Vol.2” Dolton finally got this photo shoot right. The guys are all there; different girl model though. The Fenders have gone and the Mosrite is in. Bob is holding a Mosrite bass while Nokie is holding a Mosrite guitar.

    Well, I guess the second question is answered; they moved to Mosrite in 1964. However, I thought Nokie Edward went onto lead guitar around 1961. Does anyone know please?

  4. The first drummer for The Ventures was actually George Babbitt. Apparently, he was only 17 years of age at this time. I have just listened to a 1959 version of “Walk, Don’t Run” were he is the drummer. This was before the official Blue Horizon version was released in 1960. With this version, the drummer is now actually Skip Moore. However, The Ventures recorded this in the basement of a professional recording studio somewhere in Seattle. There is something unique about this recoding of “Walk, Don’t Run” because there is a lot of ambiance and echo. There must have been some over-spill from the guitar amps and drums into the recording mics which has given it this character. After the success of the 45, The Ventures then went back into the studio to record the album Walk, Don’t Run. But by this time, Skip Moore had left and Howie Johnson was the drummer. The session was recorded this time at the Dolton studios. As far as I know, most of the instrumentals except “Walk, Don’t Run” on that album have Howie Johnson drumming. For some reason, they decided to put the original 45 recording session of Walk, Don’t Run (with Skip Moore) on that album instead of re-recording it with Howie. I’m glad they did. For my taste, I found the Dolton Studio session of the rest of the instrumentals on this album to be a bit clinical and pure. They lack the ambiance, echo and over-spill character of the original Walk Don’t Run basement studio version. Don’t get me wrong. I still like them. The B side of the Walk, Don’t Run single was the tune called “Home”, and Skip Moore was the drummer. With the LP version of Home, I’m not sure if they used the original version or re-recorded it with Howie Johnson. I have the LP but I don’t have the 45 to compare. In 2007, an original Blue Horizon 45 of Walk, Don’t Run sold on eBay for $355

  5. Pingback: Instrumentals of the 60’s “The Lost Music” 1960 to 1962 | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

  6. Pingback: Instrumentals of the Sixties “The Lost Music” 1963 – 1969 | Russ & Gary's "The Best Years of Music"

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