Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Walk, Don't run

The Ventures, from left: Nokie Edwards, Bob Bogle, Don Wilson and Howie Johnson in 1960

Bob Bogle, a founding member of the Ventures, the long-running guitar band whose jaunty 1960 hit “Walk — Don’t Run” became an early standard of instrumental rock ’n’ roll and taught generations of guitarists how to make their solos sparkle, died on Sunday in Vancouver, Wash., where he lived. He was 75.

I can hear that guitar.

Mr. Bogle and Don Wilson, two young construction workers and novice guitar enthusiasts, started the group in Tacoma, Wash., in 1958. Unable to attract a record label, they founded their own, Blue Horizon.


“They took a jazz song that had some swing to it, and they garaged it out,” Peter Blecha, author of “Sonic Boom: The History of Northwest Rock From ‘Louie Louie’ to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ ” said in an interview on Tuesday. “They stomped their way through it, ignored the niceties of the sound and made it palatable to 15-year-old tastes.”

“Walk — Don’t Run” became the Ventures’ formula, applied on hundreds of subsequent records. That same year, 1960, they had another hit with their instrumental version of “Perfidia,” a much-covered song by the Mexican songwriter Alberto Domínguez. (Charlie Parker, Glenn Miller, Nat King Cole and Linda Ronstadt, among others, have also recorded versions of it.)

Bird did Perfidia? Never heard it.

The band covered pop hits, television theme songs and various novelties in the signature Ventures style, including Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line,” “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” and the “Batman” theme. Psychedelic albums followed in the late 1960s, and in 1972 the Ventures covered “Theme From ‘Shaft,’ ” the blaxploitation classic by Isaac Hayes.

Ventures doing I Walk the Line? Wild, man.

In 1965 the group released an instructional album, “Play Guitar With the Ventures,” and over the years many top rock guitarists, including George Harrison and John Fogerty, have acknowledged a debt to the band.


The Ventures were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008; Mr. Fogerty was the presenter. Mr. Bogle was not in attendance, but Mr. Wilson and Mr. Edwards were, and Ms. Taylor, the band’s manager and widow of Mel Taylor, accepted the honor on his behalf. Mr. Taylor died in 1996, and Howie Johnson had died in 1988. At the ceremony, the band performed the “Hawaii Five-O” theme and “Walk — Don’t Run.”

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