Ventures Guitarist Don Wilson Dead at 88
Don Wilson, co-founder and rhythm guitarist with surf music pioneers the Ventures, died on Jan. 22 at the age of 88, his family confirmed.
They told NBC Seattle reporter Saint Bryan that Wilson had “passed peacefully” of natural causes at home in Tacoma, Washington, adding: “Our dad was an amazing rhythm guitar player who touched people all over world… He will have his place in history forever and was much loved and appreciated. He will be missed.”
The Ventures, formed in 1958, are credited with raising the profile of the electric guitar across the world and remain a popular live act in a number of territories, notably Japan. They’re best known for their hits “Walk, Don’t Run” – which they self-released in 1960 – “Telstar,” “Perfidia” and a cover of the Hawaii Five-O theme. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. Wilson was the last remaining original member until he retired in 2015.
Along with developing concept albums including The Colorful Ventures, with a color in each song title, and the sci-fi themed The Ventures in Space, they also released seven instructional albums, starting with Play Guitar With the Ventures in 1965 – an album Aerosmith’s Tom Hamilton said he’d used to learn his instrument. Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys once said his band had learned the same way, while Eddie Van Halen said he’d started playing guitar by learning 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 that treat the albums they bring in to have 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 had a classical album out, which is Bach and Beethoven, with 35 pieces on it.… I think we're much more than surf, that's for sure.”
Watch the Ventures Perform 'Walk Don't Run'