Ventures guitarist Don Wilson dies at 88

Don Wilson, co-founder and rhythm guitarist of surf music pioneers The Ventures, died on January 22 at the age of 88, his family has confirmed.

They said Saint Bryan, NBC Seattle reporter that Wilson had “passed peacefully” of natural causes at his home in Tacoma, Washington, adding, “Our father was an incredible rhythm guitarist who touched people all over the world…He will go down in history forever and was much loved and appreciated. We will miss him.”

The Ventures, formed in 1958, are credited with raising the profile of electric guitar playing around the world and remain a popular live band in a number of territories, including Japan. They are best known for their hits “Walk, Don’t Run” – which they themselves released in 1960 – “Telstar”, “Perfidia” and a cover of the Five-O’s from Hawaii theme. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. Wilson was the last remaining original member until his retirement in 2015.

Along with the development of concept albums, including colorful adventures, with a color in each song title, and the science fiction theme adventures in space, they have also released seven educational albums, starting with Play guitar with the Ventures in 1965 – an album that Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith said he used to learn his instrument. Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys once said his band learned the same way, while Eddie Van Halen said he started playing guitar when he learned The Ventures’ track “Pipeline.”

“Our music seems to last,” Wilson told Classic Bands in an undated interview. “All the shows we go to have fans who treat the albums they bring in as signed like gold. Our music is just fun music. He added, ‘We’re not just rock ‘n’ roll We play all kinds of different things. We put out a classic album, which is Bach and Beethoven, with 35 tracks on it… I think we’re a lot more than just surfing, that’s for sure.

Watch the Ventures perform “Walk Don’t Run”

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