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Don Wilson, guitarist with the Ventures, dies at 88

UPDATED: Mon., Jan. 24, 2022

Bob Spalding, left, and Don Wilson of The Ventures perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in New York, March 10, 2008. Wilson, co-founder and rhythm guitarist of the instrumental guitar band, has died. He was 88.  (Jason DeCrow)
Bob Spalding, left, and Don Wilson of The Ventures perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in New York, March 10, 2008. Wilson, co-founder and rhythm guitarist of the instrumental guitar band, has died. He was 88. (Jason DeCrow)
Associated Press

Associated Press

TACOMA – Don Wilson, co-founder and rhythm guitarist of the instrumental guitar band the Ventures, has died.

He was 88.

Wilson died Saturday in Tacoma of natural causes, surrounded by his four children, the News Tribune reported.

The band’s 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.”

In the 1960s and early 1970s, 38 of the band’s albums charted in the United States.

The Ventures had 14 singles in the Billboard Hot 100. With more than 100 million records sold, the Ventures are the bestselling instrumental band of all time.

The band scored the No. 2 hit in the country with “Walk, Don’t Run” in 1960.

The Ventures founders Bob Bogle and Wilson 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.

Johnson broke his neck in a car wreck in 1961 and died in 1988. Skip Moore played drums on “Walk Don’t Run,” and Mel Taylor took take over on drums and rounded out the classic lineup, with Edwards on lead guitar, in 1962.

The band continued to perform through numerous lineup 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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