The Ventures Co-Founder & Guitarist Don Wilson Dead At 88

Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

The Ventures Co-Founder & Guitarist Don Wilson Dead At 88

Rebecca Sapp/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Don Wilson, co-founder and rhythm guitarist for the instrumental band the Ventures, has died at 88. According to The News Tribune, Wilson passed away from natural causes at his home in Tacoma. “Our dad was an amazing rhythm guitar player who touched people all over world with his band, the Ventures,” his son Tim Wilson said in a statement. “He will have his place in history forever and was much loved and appreciated. He will be missed.”

Wilson starting playing music with Bob Bogle while they were working as bricklayers in Seattle; they founded the Ventures in 1958 with Nokie Edwards on bass and Howie Johnson on drums. After Johnson was injured in a car accident in 1961, he was replaced by Mel Taylor in 1962. The band had their first big hit with “Walk, Don’t Run,” a cover of a Johnny Smith track that was popularized by Chet Atkins. They originally released it in 1961 and then again in 1964, pioneering the popularity of the surf guitar sound.

The band continued playing music and scoring hits well into the ’60s. Their rendition of the theme song for TV show Hawaii Five-O reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969. Wilson continued to play live with the various permutations of the Ventures throughout the years until his retirement in 2015. In 2008, the Ventures were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

Wilson was the last surviving member of the Ventures’ core lineup. Edwards died in 2018, Bogle in 2009, and Taylor in 1996.

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