Sunday, July 16, 2006

Walk don't run

Every young guitar player in the pre-Beatles '60 had a few idols. Some of us secretly listened to the monsters of country: Chet Atkins, Merle Travis, Joe Maphis. And most of us were aware of Les Paul, as well as the current jazz heavyweights: Tal Farlow, Barney Kessel, Wes Montgomery, as well as the older generation jazzers like Oscar Moore, and especially Charlie Christian.

But until the Ventures (wikipedia) came along, guitar in pop and emerging rock was mostly a solo voice to augment vocals, the break played in the middle eight before the singer came in with the third verse. England had The Shadows, already stepping out from behind Cliff Richard, but in the US, The Ventures (homepage) were gods!

Walk Don't Run is an especially wonderful example of dynamics and tension in rock without loudness. This song swings, really hard, yet isn't played loudly. Most of the energy comes from the jazzy drumming, but also the intense rhythm played by Wilson. As much as I love, as a guitar player, to grab a big fat overdriven open E power chord, there is much to be learned from playing softly, with great intensity.

As I learned from my friend Sailor at Vidiotspeak, The Ventures haven't been inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall Of fame yet. From the Ventures' site:
The Ventures appeared before the Washington State Legislature in Olympia on Friday March 11 at 11 a.m. to receive a resolution from the state supporting their nomination for entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
To see the proclamation, letter to the Rock Hall of fame, and pictures, , please click here.

Sailor provides this link to an online petition:
The following are just some of their
many accomplishments in this area (please see the footnotes):

o Ranked #4 among all-time instrumental artists on Billboard's Single
Charts. [1]

o Ranked #6 among all 1960s artists on Billboard's Album Charts. [2]

o Ranked #26 among all-time artists on Billboard's Album Charts. [2]

o Ranked #20 in most albums on Billboard's Album Charts with 37. [2]

o Ranked #379 among all-time artists on Billboard Single's Charts. [1]

o "Walk, Don't Run" is one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Top 500
Hits of all time. [3]

There's more.

Skippy chimes in:
the ventures are still touring with the surviving original members and have sold 110+ million albums worldwide. they are the biggest selling instrumental rock & roll group of all time. they've influenced everyone from jimi hendrix to joe satriani to countless players who didn't have a clue as to who helped forge their style.

Oddly enough, I, too, played with The Ventures. For about an hour, in 1980. They had used a keyboard player named Biff Vincent for a few tours, and I did tech work for his studio, at the time located in Costa Mesa, CA.

While I was there one day, installing some new equipment, he was working on something with Mel Taylor and Don Wilson, drummer and rhythm guitarist from The Ventures. They were trying to record something for a demo using a Vocoder, and Don, being a rhythm player, couldn't quite get it.

Biff knew that I played quite a lot, and asked if I would mind, and of course I said yes. So I played guitar on a Ventures demo for about an hour, long ago, far away.

That, of course, means nothing in the big picture. What really matters is that these guys played rock instrumental guitar music, at a time when it was all brand new. and for that, they deserve inclusion into the R'n'R HOF.