The Ventures Biography
The Ventures are an instrumental rock band formed in 1958, by Don Wilson and Bob Bogle, two Seattle masonry workers. They have contributed, as well, to the surf music genre.
Initially calling themselves "The Versatones", they played small clubs and beer bars in the Northwest. In 1959 they recorded and released two vocal tunes, "The Real McCoy" and "Cookies and Coke", but neither record charted. They met and recruited Nokie Edwards as bass player, and recorded "Walk Don't Run" with Bogle on lead, Wilson on rhythm, Edwards on bass, and Skip Moore on drums. They approached several record companies, none of whom showed any interest in signing them. With support from Don Wilson's mother, Josie, they started their own record company, "Blue Horizon Records". They self-produced the 45 RPM single of "Walk Don't Run" and promoted it themselves.
They were successful in getting a local Seattle DJ, Pat O'Day, to use the song as a news "kicker" (lead-in). Bob Reisdorf, owner of Dolton Records, heard it on the radio, contacted and signed The Ventures, and the rest is history. Walk Don't Run climbed to #2 for a week on the Billboard Top 100, in September 1960.
The story behind their selection of Walk Don't Run provides some insight into the distinction between technical virtuousity, versus the essential elements of a wildly successful Pop-Music hit. Bob Bogle, original lead guitarist, cites Chet Atkins as one of his early influences. Bogle bought the Chet Atkins LP Hi Fi In Focus, which featured Atkins' fingerstyle rendition of a song originally written by the great jazz guitarist, Johnny Smith. Within Atkins' elaborate and laid-back delivery of "Walk Don't Run", Bogle found inspiration. He stated years later there was no way his "pedestrian" guitar skills would allow him to play it the same as Chet Atkins did, so he and Wilson worked out a highly energized, very much simplified arrangement, and a Rock & Roll Classic was born. Another Chet Atkins inspired guitarist, Steve Howe of Yes, covered "Walk Don't Run" on his 1998 album Quantum Guitar.