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23 January 2022

Don Wilson, Guitarist With The Ventures, Has Died Aged 88

Don Wilson & The Ventures
Don Wilson (right) with The Ventures, Alamy
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Don Wilson, co-founder and rhythm guitarist of the instrumental guitar band The Ventures, has died. Wilson died aged 88 on Saturday 22 January 2022 in Tacoma of natural causes, surrounded by his four children, The News Tribune reported.

The Ventures’ hits included Walk, Don’t Run, and the theme song for Hawaii Five-O. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

“Our dad was an amazing rhythm guitar player who touched people all over world with his band, The Ventures,” 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.”

Over the course of their career, The Ventures had 14 singles that made the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. With over 100 million records sold, The Ventures are the best-selling instrumental band of all time. Their biggest hit, Walk, Don’t Run, reached No 2 in the US in 1960.

The Ventures were formed in 1958 in Tacoma, Washington, by Wilson and Bob Bogle. Wilson and Bogle were bricklayers when they bought guitars and chord books at a pawnshop in Tacoma in 1958. “They were just really cheap guitars,” Wilson once recalled. “They didn’t stay in tune very well. But we wanted to learn.” By the next year, they had formed The Ventures, adding Nokie Edwards on bass guitar and Howie Johnson on drums.

The band, a quartet for most of its existence, helped to popularize the electric guitar in the United States and across the world during the 60s. While their popularity in the United States waned in the 70s, the group remained popular in Japan, where they have regularly toured.

The band continued to perform through numerous line-up changes, but Wilson was the one constant throughout. He didn’t miss a tour until his retirement in 2015, according to the family’s statement.

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