Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Venturing into the unknown

Bob Bogle, founding member of The Ventures, is now playing in a more heavenly venue. I can't say it any better than The Ventures' site does:
Bob Bogle 1934-2009

Jun, 14 2009
It is with profound sadness and grief that we must inform Ventures' fans all over the world that Bob Bogle passed away on Sunday, June 14. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bob's family at this terrible time, especially his beloved wife, Yumi, who has been the light of his life for so many years. The Ventures' members are completely devasted, and share the pain of this loss with all our friends and fans. As more information becomes available, it will be posted here, and we hope to set up a section on this site for messages from those who wish to post them.

The music world has lost a true original and an innovator - may all our wonderful memories console us.
It's somewhat comforting to know that Bob lived long enough to see The Ventures inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

As I wrote in 2006:
Why Aren't The Ventures in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!?

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.

So I'm instituting the 1st ever vidiotspeak drive ... no, not for something as crass as $$, but to get The Ventures into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
SteveAudio actually had the honor to work with The Ventures:
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.
Here's Tacoma's News Tribune quoting co-founder Don Wilson:
“Boy, I tell you, he’s the brother I never had,”
“And he is much more than any brother could be. He and I were partners for, like, 52 years. And to tell you the honest truth, we had never, ever had an argument in all that time — never.”
“If you listen to ‘Walk, Don’t Run’ and ‘Perfidia,’ the lead guitar is just totally unique,” Wilson said. “He used that vibrato bar – they call it a whammy bar – and he used it like nobody else.

“Nobody had heard anything like it. That was why ‘Walk, Don’t Run’ was such a monster hit. I run across so many people, guitar players – famous ones - and they say the first song I learned was ‘Walk, Don’t Run’.”

And 40 years later:

Thanks Bob, Telstar never shined so bright that you didn't eclipse it.

Update (SteveAudio):

Instrumental songs are something many rock listeners today don't think about. They have been important in all types of pop music all through the 20th Century, and especially once the electric guitar emerged as the instrument that would define rock.

When I started playing in bands in '63, instrumentals were mandatory. And while many famous instrumentals still get air play today, from Sleepwalk to Rumble to Tequila to Miserlou, The Ventures made the unusual career of recording virtually only instrumentals.

Every aspiring guitarist of the early '60s knew most of The Ventures' repertoire. But the song that defined them and was arguably the high point of their career was indeed "Walk, Don't Run". While many early rock instrumentals were fairly simplistic and often downright primitive, The Ventures' work, due to their ages and jazz experiences, showed much more subtlety than most rock did in 1960 when WDR was recorded and released.

But that makes sense when you consider that they didn't write the song. Jazz guitar great Johnny Smith did. They took his not loud but hard-swinging song and gave it a rock feel.

Here are 3 songs of Johnny's "Walk Don't Run" (1954) album, starting with the eponymous title song:

Listen to all 3 songs, they're all pretty great.

Update 2:

Please see my friend Max's post at Crooks & Liars:
The Ventures (the best selling instrumental band of all time) are the style's finest. Bob Bogle may be gone, but he's in every whammy bar shake on a Stratocaster for some time to come.