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Music

Don Wilson, The Ventures guitarist, has died

The Ventures rhythm guitarist Don Wilson has died, aged 88. Seattle-based journalist Saint Bryan shared the news with the world by posting a message on Twitter, on behalf of the guitar player’s family. 

Wilson’s son, Tim, issued a statement to People magazine, where he said, “Our dad was an amazing rhythm guitar player who touched people all over world with his band, The Ventures. He will have his place in history forever and was much loved and appreciated. He will be missed.”

Credited as one of the progenitors of ‘surf music’, The Ventures were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2008. They were formed in 1958 when Wilson decided to collaborate with a fellow construction worker, Bob Bogle. Choosing an instrumental path, The Ventures enjoyed success when their cover of Johnny Smith song ‘Walk, Don’t Run’ hit the number two spot on the Billboard Hot 100.

Many commentators pencilled it as surf, but Wilson never felt comfortable with the title. “We never set out to be a surf band,” Wilson revealed to PEOPLE in 2020. “Honestly, I love playing surf music — it’s very fun and it makes you feel good. But we never really considered ourselves a surf band. It was just all these things coming together — the surf culture, the electric guitar, Americana — when we were coming up in the early 1960s. Kind of a happy accident, I guess you could say. We play all kinds of music, though, including our ‘Venturizing’ of everything from classical to disco.”

Kiss bassist Gene Simmons was purportedly a member of their fan club as a child, and The Beach Boys acknowledged the influence The Ventures held on their group. Creedence Clearwater Revival singer John Fogerty spoke at their induction ceremony in 2008. 

The Ventures have bid farewell to their founder on their Instagram page, stating: “Don Wilson, guitarist for Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame group, The Ventures, passed away this morning. Don was an inspiration and mentor. He was a unique talent that inspired countless musicians like us. We lost a good friend, fellow musician, world class performer, and beloved band-mate. Don Wilson has left the stage. We will miss him always.”