Tuesday, June 17, 2008


The Ventures, the most popular instrumental combo in rock, were just inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It took them long enough!

It all started back in 1959, when two construction workers and amateur guitar players from Tacoma, Washington -- Bob Bogle and Don Wilson -- formed a band called "The Impacts." They played gigs around Washington state and Idaho, and even tried a little recording. After a demo tape was roundly rejected, they formed their own label, Blue Horizon, and released "Cookies and Coke," a single vocal recording that went nowhere. After that, they decided to become an instrumental band, and signed on bass-player Nokie Edwards, and drummer Skip Moore. Then, as The Ventures, they recorded a song that became a news lead-in on a local Seattle radio station -- thanks to a friend on the inside. The song, "Walk Don't Run," became a smash hit in 1960, and The Ventures, with their twangy Mosrite guitars, became a national success. They remain an important influence in rock and surf music to this day.

I first heard The Ventures at my cousin Mike's house. Now he's a middle-aged plumber with grandkids but back then he rode a motorcycle and had some great records: the Ventures, early Elvis, and one of my favorites, a great hot rod collection called "Shut Down." I recently found this gem on CD and it still sounds cool, with classics like "Dead Man's Curve" and "Little Deuce Coupe" and "Thunder Road." Great driving music...if only gas were cheaper!

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