Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Day The Surf Music Died

Ventures guitarist Bob Bogle dies at 75

(CNN) -- Ventures lead guitarist Bob Bogle, whose fretwork on such instrumental hits such as "Walk -- Don't Run" and "Hawaii Five-O" influenced countless bands, died Sunday in Vancouver, Washington.

He was 75.

The cause was non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, according to Don Wilson, who co-founded the Ventures with Bogle in the 1950s.

"He had a special sound that nobody could ever re-create. He was totally unique as a guitar player," Wilson told CNNRadio.

Wilson and Bogle learned how to play guitar while working as construction workers in the 1950s in their native Tacoma, Washington. The pair formed the Ventures in 1958.

"We had a lot of time on our hands after work, so we'd get together and play," Wilson recalled. "A year and a half later, we had a number two hit called 'Walk -- Don't Run.' " The group first heard the song on a Chet Atkins record.

Several other hits followed, including "Perfidia," "Walk Don't Run '64" and "Diamond Head." The group took the theme of the TV show "Hawaii Five-O" into the Top Ten in 1969 and later supplied background music for the series.

But the band, which played almost solely instrumentals, was perhaps more influential for its albums. Thirty-eight of the band's long-players hit Billboard's Top 200 chart, including albums that covered country songs, dance tunes and Christmas melodies. One of the band's albums was titled "Play Guitar with the Ventures," and countless did.

"I can't think of a better contribution for instrumental music on his style than 'Walk -- Don't Run,' " Wilson said. "A lot of good would-be guitar players and garage bands would go out and buy guitars just to learn that song."

The Ventures were voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. At the induction ceremony, Creedence Clearwater Revival's John Fogerty praised the group: "It's enough to say, the Ventures are the most popular instrumental band of all time," he said.

Bogle fought his illness with dignity, Wilson said.

"His doctors gave him 10 years to live, and he lived 12. The last two years were really tough. At least he lived to know the Ventures had been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."

Bogle is survived by his wife, Yumi.

Ok, so not all of you remember surf music, or even the Sixties with any great clarity, but I do. I even have my brother's old 45's (small vinyl records? Single song on either side?) of some of the Ventures' stuff. The Ventures influenced a lot of the pop music of the Sixties, especially because they wrote and performed their own stuff. It's expected these days, but back when record companies made all the decisions for their stable of singers, it was just not heard of that an artist would want to do all of it: write, play, sing, perform, record, and in a few rare instances when they won the fight, produce their own music. Buddy Holly started some of the real changes, especially in the newly born Rock-n-Roll, and others, like the Ventures, took the bit in their teeth and ran with it. It wasn't until the day of DIY (Do It Yourself) came that anything more adventurous was brought to the light in music. Nowadays, recording at home, from concept to finished product is quite common, partly because it is just plain cheaper. Doesn't hurt that the technology involved has shrunk to a portable size. I've been in some of those really old recording studios, and can see why some artists were intimidated into accepting what they were told. Now, they don't have to; they can experiment an make stuff as good as almost all majour studios, and at 1/4 the cost.

I've decided that the main reason getting old sux bigtime is that one has to watch those older than one self slowly drop away. I missed noting the passing of Koko Taylor, and a couple of others the average under-30 has never had the privilege to hear, but with each passing, my world seems to shrink a little.
Luckily, due in no small part to myspace, I am finding out that there is real talent out there, and a few of them even know where their roots are from, who paved the way for the artists of today. Bob Bogle may not be a household name to all, but his music sure as heck is.
RIP, dude. See you on the surfside!

No comments: