Top Page Article

No.166 (6/25/10)

The Ventures play Japan!

By Robert Finley
Chief Writer

Get ready, music fans -- The Band That Launched A Thousand Bands is coming to Japan! The Ventures, one of rock and roll's classic surf rock musical groups, are scheduled to play at the Misawa Convention Center July 22.

The Ventures trace their long career all the way back to 1958, when Don Wilson and Bob Bogle, two masonry workers from Tacoma, Washington, met while Bogle was car-shopping at Wilson's father's used car dealership. The two found out about their mutual interest in music (in particular, guitars), and decided to form a duo called The Versatones.

The duo toured all along the Pacific Northwest, and picked up Nokie Edwards, a skilled bass player, to make the group a trio. As their popularity grew, they began to press their own records and in the fall of 1960, they scored their first hit with the instrumental tune “Walk, Don't Run.” From there, they recruited drummer Howie Johnson to better accommodate their now-hectic touring schedule. The band saw success with a string of hits, and even crafted one of the earliest examples of a concept album with 1961's The Colorful Ventures album.

Tragedy struck the band in 1962 when Johnson was involved in a terrible automobile accident, which prompted him to quit the band on doctor's orders. Johnson was eventually replaced with the well-known drummer Mel Taylor, who had already made a name in the industry working on tracks such as Bobby Pickett's “Monster Mash” and “Alley Oop.” This lineup toured until 1968, when Edwards left and was replaced by Gerry McGee. This wasn't the end of Edwards' association with The Ventures, however -- he rejoined them from 1973 until 1984, and has often played with them in the years since. Mel remained the permanent drummer with the band until his untimely demise from cancer in 1996. Bogle recently passed away after a long struggle with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

Besides the successful single “Walk, Don't Run,” The Ventures scored numerous other hit records and albums. In 1963, the band released “The Ventures Play Telstar And The Lonely Bull,” a 12-track album that featured a cover of the everlasting hit “Tequila.” In 1964, they released “The Ventures In Space,” an album lauded as a pioneer of the “space surf” variant of surf rock. The 60's ended with The Ventures released the immensely popular and enduring classic “Hawaii Five-O,” featuring a cover of the classic song. The album itself reached #11 on the Billboard charts, and the “Hawaii Five-O” single reached #4.

While The Ventures' popularity in the U.S. may have waned over time as musical trends shifted, they have consistently remained the most popular American band in Japan. An interesting statistic often thrown around was that The Ventures outsold The Beatles 2-to-1 in Japan. As a result of their immense popularity here, the band has often released exclusive albums for the Japanese market and has consistently toured here for almost five decades.

The Ventures lineup today consists of Wilson, Edwards, McGee, Bob Spalding, and Leon Taylor. The band's legacy in rock music was secured in 2008 when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On April 29, The Ventures were honored in Japan with The Order Of The Rising Sun, Gold Rays, And Rosette, a prestigious decoration awarded to Wilson, Edwards, McGee, Taylor, and Spalding. This award was presented to the group “in recognition of their controbution as members of The Ventures to cultural exchange between the U.S. and Japan and in recognition for the fact that The ventures cross the Pacific to boost mutual understanding between Japan and the United States through its magical ‘Band That Launched A Thousand Bands,” according to a press release on the band's Web site. The band expressed great pleasure and honor at receiving the award, originally established in 1875, and which now places them amongst great entertainers such as Clint Eastwood and George Takei.

The boys will be arriving at the height of summer, so come celebrate and don't miss out on seeing one of the most legendary bands in rock music live!

(For more information on the band, please visit







ヒットシングル「ウォーク・ドント・ラン」以外にも、ベンチャーズは多くのヒットレコードとアルバムを記録した。1963年には、「The Ventures Play Telstar And The Lonely Bull」という12トラックのアルバムを出し、その中には「テキーラ」という永遠のヒットが入っている。1964年には「The Ventures In Space」というサーフロックの変形である「スペースサーフ」というジャンルを開拓した。1960年代の終わりには莫大な人気の、永遠のクラシックといえる「Hawaii Five-O」をリリースした。そのアルバムはビルボードの11位を獲得し、同名シングルは4位を獲得した。




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