Nokie Edwards, longtime lead guitarist for surf-guitar legends the Ventures, has died. As Rolling Stone points out, a statement on the Ventures’ website claims that Edwards died after a hip surgery resulted in an infection. Edwards was 82.
Edwards was born in Norman, Oklahoma, but he was living in Tacoma, Washington when he joined up with Bob Bogle and Don Wilson, forming a group called the Impacts in 1958. The group eventually became the Ventures, and though Edwards started out as the bassist, he took over for Bogle on lead guitar in 1961.
The Ventures had their first hit with an instrumental rock ‘n’ roll cover of Chet Atkins’ “Walk, Don’t Run” in 1960. The band’s sound — instrumental, with twangy guitars standing in for lead vocals — became the sound of surf guitar, a whole thriving rock ‘n’ roll subgenre that was responsible for some of the most exciting, electric music of the early ’60s.
The Ventures outlasted the surf guitar craze, scoring hits well into the ’60s. Their version of the theme to the TV show Hawaii Five-O, for instance, reached #4 on the Hot 100 in 1968. They continued recording well into the ’70s and performing long after that. Edwards left the band a couple of times, including a run in the late ’60s and early ’70s where he released a few solo albums, but he always returned to the fold. Later in his life, Edwards also tried out acting, playing one of the townspeople on HBO’s Deadwood. He and the rest of the Ventures were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2008; John Fogerty gave their induction speech.
Below, check out a couple of videos of the Ventures at work.