Don Wilson, Co-Founder of the Ventures, Dead at 88

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Don Wilson, who was the last surviving original member of the hugely popular rock instrumental group The Ventures, has died. His death today (Jan. 22, 2022), at age 88, at a hospital in Tacoma, Wash., was confirmed by his daughter, Staci Layne Wilson. She wrote, simply, on her Facebook page, “Rest In Peace, Dad. I love you, forever and a day💔”

The influential group is well known for such ’60s hits as “Walk, Don’t Run,” “Perfidia” and “Hawaii Five-0.”

The classic lineup of the band consisted of Wilson (rhythm guitar), Bob Bogle (initially lead guitar, switched to bass), Nokie Edwards (initially bass, switched to lead guitar) and Mel Taylor (drums).

The Ventures are said to be the best-selling instrumental rock group of all time. They sold over 100 million records around the world with 280-plus different releases in the U.S. and abroad, and are the first to have the same song with different arrangements both hit the Top 10: “Walk Don’t Run” and “Walk Don’t Run ’64.”

Related: Founding Ventures member Nokie Edwards died in 2018

The Ventures, circa 1963. Left to right: Don Wilson, Nokie Edwards, Mel Taylor, Bob Bogle (Photo used with permission)

A documentary film released in 2020 featured interviews with John Fogerty, Jimmy Page, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (Steely Dan, the Doobie Brothers), Randy Bachman (the Guess Who, Bachman-Turner Overdrive), Billy Bob Thornton (the Boxmasters), Waddy Wachtel, the Neptunas, the Surfrajettes, Leon Hendrix, Wayne Kramer (the MC5) and many more.

Related: 10 great 1960s instrumental hits

The Ventures were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

Don Wilson was born Dec. 10, 1933.

Watch the trailer for The Ventures: Stars on Guitars

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  1. Mr.Lee
    #1 Mr.Lee 31 October, 2019, 06:41

    “The 2,000 Lb Bee” Ventures recording was played by Dan Aykroyd at John Belushi’s burial. Quite a tribute from one Killer Bee to another.

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  2. Jimbo
    #2 Jimbo 31 October, 2019, 18:47

    I believe Howie Johnson was the original drummer; not mentioned here.

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  3. Jeffrey Zandrowicz
    #3 Jeffrey Zandrowicz 23 January, 2022, 12:04

    the documentary on the ventures is terrific it is a must see

    Reply this comment
  4. Drjim
    #4 Drjim 23 January, 2022, 14:16

    Just saw John Fogerty last night in Palm springs, he played walk, don’t run in Don’s honor

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