Don Wilson, The Ventures co-founder and surf rock legend, dies at 88
Don Wilson, co-founder and rhythm guitarist of surf rock legends The Ventures, has died of natural causes at age 88. Pitchfork points out that Don's son Tim Wilson gave a statement to Tacoma publication The News Tribune, which reads, "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."
The official Ventures page also posted a statement that reads, "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 bandmate. Don Wilson has left the stage. We will miss him always."
The Ventures helped shape rock guitar as we know it, and they had massive hits with their rendition of Johnny Smith's "Walk, Don't Run" and the Hawaii Five-O theme, and they've also got well-known renditions of other surf rock classics like "Pipeline" and "Wipe Out." They've been cited as an influence by The Beatles' George Harrison, The Beach Boys' Carl Wilson, Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, and other rock giants. When Creedence Clearwater Revival's John Fogerty inducted The Ventures into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, he said "Walk, Don't Run" "kicked open a whole movement in rock and roll." The Kinks' Dave Davies was among those to pay tribute to Don, following the news of his passing (see below).
Bob Bogle, who Don co-founded The Ventures with in 1958, passed away in 2009. Guitarist and bassist Nokie Edwards and drummer Mel Taylor, both of the classic '60s lineup, passed away in 2018 and 1996, respectively. Longtime guitarist Gerry McGee (who joined around the time of the Hawaii Five-O album) passed away in 2019. Don retired from touring with The Ventures in 2015 and was the last remaining '60s-era member. (The band continues to tour with no original members.)
Rest in peace, Don.