The Ventures have written over 1000 tunes, and recorded over 3000 songs altogether! If they ever decide to play all of the songs that they’ve ever recorded, it would take almost 5 days – without a break – to play them all.
The Ventures have released over 250 albums including compilations! 37 of these have hit the US charts. Over 150 albums have been released in Japan.
Walk, Don’t Run was kept from hitting #1 by several different records, including the immortal Itsy Bittsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini. The Ventures became the first act in the history of the music industry to hit the top ten with two different versions of the same song when Walk Don’t Run ’64 hit #8. (Neil Sedaka achieved it later with a second version of Breaking Up Is Hard To Do).
The Ventures have been together as a group for 49 years and have never taken a year off from concerts or recording.
In addition to recording the hit version of Hawaii Five-O, The Ventures also contributed some of the incidental music heard in the background of the TV show.
In the early 60’s, the band would record 4 to 6 albums a year. At one time, they had 5 albums in the top 100 simultaneously (1963).
In 1993 the band received the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award from Guitar Player Magazine.
Walk, Don’t Run, had already been named one of 20 Essential Rock Albums for guitarists, by Guitar Player Magazine, in 1987.
In 1970 and 1971, the Ventures were the #1 composers in Japan. Five of their compositions hit #1 on the Japanese charts. They usually released an instrumental version of the song, while a Japanese artist would release a vocal version.
In 1958, The Ventures released their first single, Cookies and Coke/ The Real McCoy. Despite Don Wilson’s superb imitation of Walter Brennan, the record flopped. There are only two copies of this record known to exist. It took Bob and Don four or five months to save up the money to record their next record, Walk, Don’t Run
During the 60’s, The Ventures outsold the Beatles in Japan two to one.
For the year 1965, The Ventures had five of the top ten singles in Japan, per Billboard magazine (January 1966)
The McCoys ( of Hang on Sloopy fame) got their name from The McCoy, a Ventures original tune on the Walk Don’t Run album, although their old name, Rick (Derringer) and the Raiders, was still on their bass drum when they recorded Sloopy.
Artists who have publicly acknowledged their musical debt to The Ventures include John Fogerty, Jimmy Page, Stanley Clarke, Steve Miller, George Harrison, the Ramones, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Larry Carleton, Dire Straits, Davie Allan, Aerosmith, Marshall Crenshaw, Sir Elton John and many more.
In September, 1962, the band released their most controversial recording, Lolita Ya-Ya, the theme from the movie Lolita. It peaked at #61 in the US. Later that year, they released The 2,000 Pound Bee, the first single recording to use a fuzz-box guitar. This song was played at (Killer Bee) John Belushi’s funeral.
Primarily known for their album success, the band had 14 top 100 singles in the 60’s.
Every LP released by the Ventures from 1961-1972 sold at least 100,000 copies. Even though Liberty Records had many hit artists (including Ricky Nelson, Bobby Vee, Sandy Nelson, Johnny Rivers, the Fifth Dimension, Cher, the Hollies, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, the Chipmunks, Jan and Dean, and numerous others), the company publicized the fact that The Ventures were responsible for over 25% of their business throughout the 60’s.
The first release in the Play Guitar with the Ventures series was the first and perhaps only musical instrument instructional album to chart. Countless young guitarists learned to play by listening to this series of albums and by playing along with regular Ventures albums.
After surpassing 40,000,000 in record sales there, the Ventures became the first foreign members of Japan’s Conservatory of Music.
The Ventures have also placed their handprints in the Hollywood Rock Walk.
The drummer on Walk, Don’t Run was Skip Moore, not Howie Johnson as many assume. Skip was given the choice of $25 or 1/4 of the money the record would make for playing on the session. He took the 25 bucks! Another early drummer, George Babbitt, retired as a 4-star Air Force general.
Nokie Edwards real first name is Nole. He is from Lahoma, Oklahoma, hence the “Nokie”. He turned professional at 11 and was on the radio at 13! That’s it . . . Nole from Okie.
Keyboardist John Durrill, who joined the group in the late 60’s, formerly played with The Five Americans. He later wrote three hits for Cher. Dark Lady went to #1 for him and Cher in 1974.
Drummer Howie Johnson left the group after a bad auto accident made travel too painful. Howie passed away in 1989.
Drummer Mel Taylor believed that he was the first drummer ever to play bluegrass music. He also played the Hollywood Bowl the first time Country music was played there. He did session work with Gary Paxton (Alley Oop, Cherry Pie, Monster Mash, etc.), Herb Alpert, Buck Owens and others before joining the Ventures.
Don Wilson considers himself a “guitar flogger”. He also played lead fire extinguisher on Telstar.
Gerry McGee played on the first two Monkees albums. The opening guitar chords on the Monkees theme song are his, as is the famous intro on Last Train to Clarksville. He has also played with Bobby Darin, Delany and Bonnie, Kris Kristofferson, Elvis, the Everly Brothers, Linda Ronstadt, Ricky Nelson, Sandy Nelson, and Jerry Lee Lewis. His father, Denus, was a pioneering Cajun fiddle player.
Bob Bogle played lead guitar on Walk Don’t Run, Perfidia, Lullaby of the Leaves, Blue Moon, and a number of cuts on the first several albums. He played some lead, especially in the studio. The first time Bob played bass guitar was live on stage!
Bob Reisdorf, their first producer, was in such a hurry to get their first album out, that he used some Liberty Records stockroom employees in sunglasses on the first album cover. That cover was later parodied, using the actual band members, on Walk Don’t Run, Vol. 2.
Special thanks – to Greg Kirk for his efforts to verify and document the information contained in the TRIVIA and HONORS AND AWARDS sections in this website