Petition to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Cover Letter to the Formal Petition
Submitted on March 15, 2004

The Ventures Hall of Fame Induction Committee
c/o P.O. Box 56
St. Thomas, VI 00804-0056
U.S.A.

March 15, 2004

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation
1290 Avenue of the Americas, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10104

Dear Foundation Members:

I am writing to formally submit for consideration a petition to induct The Ventures into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Attachment 1). "The Ventures Hall of Fame Induction Committee" is a grass roots group formed by rock and roll music lovers who have come together, primarily through the Internet, to try to make right the terrible injustice that has been inflicted on what is the most influential, most versatile, and most long-lived instrumental band in the history of rock and roll. The fact that our campaign and this petition are even necessary is in itself a grave injustice to these fine musicians.

Why Induct The Ventures Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Hundreds, if not thousands, of rock and roll musicians have come and gone since the 1950s. Some have forever left their mark on this type of music, others sparkled brightly and then disappeared only to be known as "one hit wonders," and still others never made it to mass market popularity but continued to play to appreciative audiences in their local communities. Only a very small percentage of these musicians are deserving of recognition in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, whose stated purpose is to:

Recognize the contributions of those who have had a significant impact over the evolution, development and perpetuation of rock and roll, by inducting them into the Hall of Fame.

Taking that statement of purpose into consideration, why should The Ventures be among the honored artists in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Quite simply, because The Ventures are the epitome of what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is intended to represent:

  • They have been important musical influences who have provided inspiration to literally thousands of youths to learn to play guitar or drums and to want to become rock and roll "superstars" and not-so-super "stars."

  • They have achieved enormous artistic and commercial success, in terms of both standing in the Billboard single and album charts and the number of recordings sold throughout the world.

  • They have shown an uncanny musical versatility and ability to change with the times and incorporate virtually any sub-genre of rock and roll, and in fact any genre of music in general, into timeless instrumental rock and roll that speaks to all ages and cultures.

  • They have achieved a universal appeal that has brought American rock and roll music to the world and continues to attract new listeners some 44 years after their beginnings in 1960.

A. Musical Influence

The Ventures have had an extremely important influence on the development of American rock and roll. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's own museum and web site list "Walk, Don't Run" by The Ventures as one of the "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll." Yet, amazingly, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has thus far refused to acknowledge the important influence of The Ventures as the band that produced "Walk, Don't Run." Meanwhile, recognition of the important influence of The Ventures has come from many other sources. For example:

  • Despite not having achieved the honor of induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the musical influence and achievements of The Ventures have been formally recognized by other organizations.

    • In 1971, The Ventures became the first non-Japanese ever elected to the Japanese Conservatory of Music in recognition of their position among the top 10 composers in Japan.

    • In 1990, The Ventures were inducted into the Washington State Music Hall of Fame in recognition of their status in the music world and as native Washingtonians.

    • In 1996, The Ventures were inducted into the Hollywood Rock Walk in recognition of their influence on the development and continued popularity of surf rock.

    • In 1996, The Ventures were invited to participate in the Smithsonian Institution's celebration of the development of the electric guitar.

    • Also in 1996, The Ventures were honored by Fender Guitars with a limited edition line of signature guitars in recognition of their role in the success of that guitar manufacturer.

    • In 2001, The Ventures were invited by the Experience Music Project to participate in its grand opening celebration in recognition of their important influence on the development of rock and roll.

  • "The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll" (1995 edition) stated that:

    The Ventures are one of the first, best, most lasting and influential of instrumental guitar-based rock combos (rivaled only by Britain's Shadows). Their trademark sound -- driving mechanical drums, metallic guitars twanging out simple, catchy pop tunes -- has filtered down through the years to gain prominence in the sounds of bands like Blondie, the B-52's, and the Go-Go's. Often classified as a surf-rock band, The Ventures actually predated surf music and lasted well beyond its early-Sixties boom. Some 35 years after their forming they still play to appreciative audiences.

  • In a related entry on "surf rock," the Encyclopedia went on to say that:

    Instrumental surf music featured throbbing tribal tom-tom tattoos and trebly, twanging guitar riffs: The Ventures' "Walk, Don't Run," the Duals' "Stick Shift," Dick Dale and the Del-tones' "Miserlou." Thanks in large part to the prolific Ventures, instrumental surf rock has proven one of rock's most influential sub-genres.

  • In the 65-page booklet included in Rhino Records' Cowabunga surf music CD boxed set, John Blair, one of the foremost surf music experts, had the following to say about The Ventures:

    The Ventures are the best-selling and most enduring rock instrumental band in pop music history. "Walk, Don't Run," their biggest hit record to date, reached #2 on the Billboard Top 100 chart in 1960. Formed in Tacoma, Washington, in 1959, the band continues to perform and record today. They have been hugely popular in Japan, where they have won numerous music awards and gold records. By 1970 they had recorded 38 albums! [That number is now over 100, excluding compilations and reissues.] Of all the instrumental bands that preceded and influenced surf music, The Ventures were arguably the most important and influential.

  • Music Hound Rock: The Essential Album Guide (1999 edition) stated, in part that:

    The Ventures have released more than 250 albums during their undisputed, three decades-plus reign as kings of instrumental rock, influencing scores of musicians around the world to pick up electric guitars and strum along to the newest TV theme or dance craze. Without question, the most popular and influential band of its kind in history, with over 90 million records sold (40 million in Japan alone), The Ventures are nothing less than the inventors and chief practitioners of a style of rock 'n' roll that is almost too cool for words. . . . Throughout the '60s, The Ventures' dance, surf, pops, stage, and TV theme albums sold millions of copies worldwide: In London, for example, a young drummer named Keith Moon learned to play along with an eerie pedal-steel-on-Mars collection entitled "The Ventures in Space," while a trip by the band to the Orient in 1965, coinciding with the first mass-marketing there of electric guitars, propelled The Ventures to a near Beatle-like status that remains intact to this day. But perhaps the most influential of all was the group's "Play Guitar with the Ventures" series of instructional LPs, upon which an entire generation of would-be axe-wielders cut its teeth using, if they were lucky, brand new Ventures-model Mosrite guitars. When these musicians themselves began coming of age during the early '80s, they provided The Ventures with an entirely fresh fan base of new wavers and surf punkers, and the band continues to inspire and entertain legions of listeners of every age, race, creed, and musical stripe the world over -- while continuing to outsell the Beatles two-to-one throughout the Orient. But while their guitars may hang proudly in the Smithsonian Institution, The Ventures have yet to be duly honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

  • A large number of musicians -- many of them considered to be rock and roll "superstars" -- have stated in magazine and taped interviews that they either learned to play by listening to or were influenced by The Ventures. A few of the more prominent include: Jeff Baxter, Lindsey Buckingham, Jimmy Paige, Rick Derringer, John Fogerty, Stephen Stills, Peter Frampton, Joe Walsh, George Harrison, to name just a few. A more comprehensive list is included in the formal petition (Attachment 1). I also encourage you to read the comments made by some of these rock and roll "superstars" and "guitar heroes" about the influence of The Ventures on their musical careers (Attachment 2). For example, in a Billboard magazine article, guitar great Joe Walsh, of The James Gang and The Eagles, acknowledged the influence of The Ventures. He was asked what he considered to be the 12 best all-time guitar solos. Joe Walsh responded:

    I don't really know if it's a solo or not, but I'd have to say that "Walk, Don't Run" by The Ventures changed an awful lot of guitar players' lives. It was one of the foundational instrumentals. It made instrumentals okay to do, and it led the way for things like the Surfaris' "Wipe Out," the Tornadoes' "Telstar," and the Rockin' Teens' "Wild Weekend." It had been done before with Duane Eddy, but with The Ventures, America discovered the vibrato bar. I didn't even play guitar at the time, but I loved "Walk, Don't Run." I was 13 when that came out in '60, and my mom was making me practice a stupid metal clarinet for orchestra. I borrowed a guitar just to learn how to play that lead part. A lot of people ended up playing guitar because of that song. We used to look at their second album cover, and nobody could believe that there was a Fender Jazzmaster and a Fender Strat and a perfect precision. Later on The Ventures went to Mosrites, but that band and that particular song really paved the way for a whole new approach to instrumentals, and "lead guitar" became so much more important in the song.

  • Countless thousands, if not millions, of young men and women throughout the world have been influenced by the music of The Ventures to pick up the guitar and learn to play. In fact, by virtue of their music and their ground-breaking series of five Play Guitar with The Ventures albums (Dolton BST-16501, BST-16502, BST-16503, BST-16504, and Liberty LST-16507), The Ventures are often cited as "the group that launched a thousand bands." This affectionate title recognizes the fact that countless numbers of grass-roots bands had their beginnings in the love that their members had for The Ventures and their music. Read the personal notes included by many of the individuals who added their names to the formal petition and you'll see concrete examples of the remarkable influence that The Ventures have had over the years (Attachment 3). Rock and roll superstars and superstar wanna-be's -- The Ventures influenced them all!

  • A young fan of The Ventures from today's generation speaks eloquently of the difference between The Ventures, who are now in their fifth non-stop decade of producing timeless instrumental rock and roll, and many of today's "one-hit wonders" and "cookie cutter" singers and rock groups. Here's what Ms. Mary Ruth Schuman from Visalia, California has to say about The Ventures:

    I watched The Ventures play Palookaville in Santa Cruz last weekend. It was my first surf concert, and it was the most amazing three hours of my life. Their talent and passion, the energy of their music, has changed completely the way I listen to modern music. What an era I grew up in - where our rock stars often don't play any instruments, don't compose their own music or write their own lyrics . . . many of them use instruments that make voices sound wonderful in the studio, so seeing them live is a huge disappointment. I feel a little cheated, having been told by the music industry that that was as talented as rock stars needed to be -- that all these one-hit-wonders of late are as good as it gets. And I envy people like my father, who had the experience of growing up with real music like The Ventures. I'm a little ashamed that I live in a world which hails people who made a lot of money off a few trendy songs during a few years of fame, yet fails to recognize the true, lasting talent of a band like The Ventures. The Ventures are more deserving of induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame than any of the groups I listened to during my adolescence. The longevity of The Ventures proves the reality and purity of their music's passion and joy. You can't find that truth on the radio much anymore, and we shouldn't be complacent about losing it. It is past due time that we thank The Ventures for what they continue to give the world. I hope that no more time will be wasted before they are given the honor they have earned.

B. Artistic and Commercial Success and Popularity

It is an undeniable fact that The Ventures have enjoyed spectacular artistic and commercial success and popularity. During their 44 years of existence (1960 to 2004), The Ventures have never stopped recording or playing to appreciative audiences. An unofficial discography, compiled with the help of fans of The Ventures, includes an unbelievable 974 individual entries. Discounting reissues, multi-national releases, and compilations, The Ventures have still recorded an amazing 123 original albums and 105 original singles worldwide (Attachment 4). Examples of the artistic and commercial success and popularity of The Ventures follow:

  • The Ventures have enjoyed remarkable popularity, as measured by their success on the Billboard Top Pop charts (Attachment 5). Joel Whitburn's authoritative reference books "Billboard Top Pop Singles" (1955-1993 edition) and "Billboard Top Pop Albums" (1955-1996 edition) report the following statistics:

    • The Ventures rank 4th among all-time instrumental artists on the Billboard Top Pop Singles charts (behind Duane Eddy, Bill Black's Combo, and Booker T and the MGs).

    • The Ventures rank 6th among all 1960s recording artists on the Billboard Top Pop Albums charts (behind The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Ray Conniff, and Ray Charles).

    • The Ventures rank 26th among all-time recording artists on the Billboard Top Pop Albums charts (the top five being Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Johnny Mathis, and Barbara Streisand).

    • The Ventures rank 20th among all-time recording artists in the number of albums (37) placed on the Billboard Top Pop Albums charts.

    • From 1960 to 1972, The Ventures placed 37 albums on the Billboard Top Pop Albums charts, including the Gold albums The Ventures Play 'Telstar' and 'The Lonely Bull' (1963), Golden Greats (1967), and Hawaii Five-0 (1969). In 1963, they had five albums on the charts.

    • From 1960 to 1969, The Ventures placed 14 singles on the Billboard Top Pop Singles charts, including the Gold singles "Walk, Don't Run" (1960), "Walk, Don't Run '64" (1964), and "Hawaii Five-0" (1969).

    • The Ventures' innovative instructional album Play Guitar with The Ventures (Dolton BST-16501, 1965) actually hit the Billboard Top Pop Albums charts in 1965, reaching No. 96 and staying on the charts for 13 weeks.

    • The Ventures' Christmas Album (Dolton BST-8038, 1965) hit the Billboard Christmas Album charts four times, reaching No. 9 in 1965, No. 32 in 1966, No. 32 in 1967, and No. 15 in 1969.

  • Although The Ventures faded from the forefront of the popular music scene in the United States during the disco-crazed late 1970s, their popularity overseas never lessened and, if anything, actually continued to grow -- particularly in Japan. The Ventures made their first concert tour of Japan in 1962, and they have been back every single year since then. In fact, as I write this, The Ventures are preparing for their 42nd annual summer tour of Japan! Their popularity in Japan has been so great that virtually every summer tour has been memorialized in "live" recordings released primarily for the Japanese market. Also, newly-recorded albums and almost annual compilations of classic The Ventures hits continue to be released and to be bought by new generations of record buyers in Japan.

  • In the twilight years of the band members' lives and despite the death, in 1996, of their legendary drummer Mel Taylor, The Ventures are now enjoying a resurgence of popularity in their home country, the United States.

    • During the late 1990s, two record companies (One Way Records of the U.S. and See for Miles Records of the U.K.) successfully completed separate projects to reissue all of The Ventures original U.S. albums on 2-on-1 compact discs. See for Miles Records also reissued several rare Japanese albums on 2-on-1 compact disc. All of these CD reissues were widely available throughout the United States.

    • During the late 1990s, GNP Crescendo Records released U.S. versions of the Japanese albums Wild Again (GNPD-2252, 1997) and Wild Again 2: New Depths (GNPD-2259, 1998). These two albums represented the first albums of all-new material released in the United States in 10 years and were considered by fans as being among the most dynamic albums in the band's 44-year history.

    • Since 2001, Varese Sarabande Records has so far released a series of five albums containing recently recorded tracks that were previously available only in Japan. The most recent, Surfin' to Baja (302-066-536-2, 2004) is a collection of tracks written, arranged, and produced by The Ventures.

    • During 1997,The Ventures played to sold out audiences in Los Angeles and San Diego, and later also played to sold out audiences in various East Coast cities, including Washington, DC.

    • In 2003, The Ventures and Los Straightjackets, an up-and-coming instrumental band influenced by The Ventures, got together to sponsor a very successful cruise from Los Angeles to Baja, Mexico with opportunities for hundreds of fans to enjoy private concerts, guitar clinics, question-and- answer sessions, and autograph sessions, plus being able to personally meet and socialize with the musicians during the cruise. Because of the overwhelming success of this cruise, an East Coast cruise out of Miami is being planned for late-2004.

As a result of all of these activities, old friends in the United States are rediscovering The Ventures' magic and new generations of fans are being introduced to them for the first time.

C. Musical Versatility

Some people consider The Ventures to be essentially a "cover" band, and perhaps this perception has negatively affected the attitude of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame towards The Ventures. But that is a great disservice to the members of the band. The members of The Ventures are consummate musicians who have the uncanny ability to adapt any type of music to an upbeat rock and roll style. They have also proven themselves to be talented musical composers. For example:

  • The musical history of The Ventures is, in a way, a history of rock and roll music. Name a sub-genre of rock and roll, and you'll find that they probably adapted their guitars to that sub-genre.

    • 1950s R&B-inspired - Rock and Roll Forever (United Artists UAS-5649, 1972)

    • The "Twist" and other dance crazes of the '60s - Twist with The Ventures (Dolton BST-8010, 1962), Twist Party, Volume 2 (Dolton BST-8014, 1962), and Mashed Potatoes and Gravy (Dolton BST-8016, 1962)

    • Surf - Surfing (Dolton BST-8022, 1963), Wild Again (Toshiba-EMI TOCP- 8911, 1996 and GNP Crescendo GNPD-2252, 1997), and Wild Again 2 (Toshiba-EMI TOCP-50220, 1997 and GNP Crescendo GNPD-2259, 1998)

    • A go-go and "British Invasion" - The Ventures A Go-Go (Dolton BST-8037, 1965), Where the Action Is (Dolton BST-8040, 1966), and Wild Things! (Dolton BST-8047, 1966)

    • Psychedelic - Guitar Freakout (Dolton BST-8050, 1967) and Super Psychedelics (Liberty LST-8052, 1967)

    • Hard or underground - Underground Fire (Liberty LST-8059, 1969)

    • Soul - The Horse (Liberty LST-8057, 1968)

    • Swamp or bayou - Swamp Rock (Liberty LST-8062, 1969)

    • Latin-influenced - New Testament (United Artists UAS-6796, 1971) and "Living La Vida Loca" on Acoustic Rock (M&I Records MYCV-30047, 2000)

    • Disco - Rocky Road (United Artists LA-586G, 1976)

    • And even hip-hop - Surf on Guitar '96 "Ryomei Shirai mix" (Toshiba-EMI TODT-3746, 1996) and Let's Go Ichiro (M&I Records MYCV20004, 2001)

  • But The Ventures' versatility doesn't end there. They have also successfully adapted their guitars to non-rock and roll music, converting all of those musical styles into foot-stomping, heart-pounding rock and roll!

    • Classical - Joy: The Ventures Play the Classics (United Artists UAS-5575, 1972)

    • Big band - "Moonlight Serenade" on Rocky Road (United Artists LA-586G, 1976) and "Quiet Village" on Wild Again (Toshiba-EMI TOCP-8911, 1996)

    • American pop - The Ventures Play the Carpenters (United Artists LA-231G, 1974)

    • Folk - The Jim Croce Songbook (United Artists LA-217G, 1974)

    • Country - The Ventures Play Country Classics (Dolton BST-8023, 1963)

    • Traditional Latin - The Latin Album (King GXF-77/78, 1978)

    • Reggae - Chameleon (East World EWS-81332, 1980) and The Compact Ventures (Garland GR-2003, 1987)

    • Japanese pop - Best of Pop Sounds (Liberty LP-80152, 1971), among many others.

    • TV and movie themes - Hawaii Five-0 (Liberty LST-8061, 1969), The Ventures Play the Batman Theme (Dolton BST-8042, 1966), TV Themes (United Artists LA-717G, 1977), and Now Playing (United Artists LA-471G, 1975).

  • Although best known for their instrumental covers of "hits of the day," The Ventures were and continue to be musical innovators and prolific composers in their own right. They were able to draw sounds from their guitars in the 1960s that today are the sole purview of synthesizers and computer gimmickery. A classic example of this is the themed album The Ventures in Space (Dolton BST-8027, 1964), which contains fantastic "other-worldly" music and sound effects achieved on their guitars! This album has been hailed by Keith Moon of The Who as a landmark album in the history of rock and roll.

  • In the arena of song-writing, their albums have included no less than 216 original compositions (Attachment 6). Among these are such well-recognized songs as "Surf Rider," which was covered successfully by The Lively Ones and included in the soundtrack of the cult film "Pulp Fiction."

D. Universal Appeal

The Ventures have been, and continue to be, ambassadors for rock and roll music throughout the world. For example:

  • Their discography includes recordings issued on every continent except Antarctica, including such countries as the United States, Japan, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, India, Iran, Italy, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. I sincerely doubt that any other recording artists -- rock and roll or otherwise -- can make a similar claim!

  • The universal appeal of The Ventures and their music isn't just a thing of the past. A quick look at the tabulation of the enclosed petition signatures (Attachment 7) shows that they are still known and loved by rock and roll fans on every continent (again with the exception of Antarctica). Fans in all 50 United States and in 53 other countries in six continents have found the Internet web site that our committee has set up and made their voices heard in support of the induction of The Ventures into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Read the personal notes that many of these fans added (Attachment 3) and you'll quickly see the great esteem with which they hold The Ventures and their music. More than anything else, the personal thoughts of these fans, all brought together -- despite national, cultural, religious, and age differences -- by their love for The Ventures' music, testify to the fact that The Ventures have been ambassadors taking American rock and roll to all corners of our globe and keeping it alive.

  • A few recent personal experiences further illustrate the universal appeal and recognition of The Ventures.

    • One day, I was on my way to work, here in the Virgin Islands, and gave a stranger a ride into town. I had a cassette of some of The Ventures' songs playing in my car's tape deck. This stranger immediately recognized their music, and we spent the next 10-15 minutes discussing The Ventures and their music.

    • A few years ago, I had to make a business trip to several Pacific islands. My first stop was in the Marshall Islands (of Bikini and Eniwetok Atoll fame). One evening I had the radio in the hotel room tuned to a local station, and the announcer started making advertisements for local businesses (in the Marshallese language). The music he used as background for a 15-minute segment of local advertisements? The Ventures!

    • On my return trip back home, I stopped over in Honolulu for a couple days to see some of the sights. One of the places I visited was the Hawaiian Maritime Museum. As part of a display on the development of surfing in the Hawaiian Islands, the Museum had used the cover sleeve of The Ventures' album Surfing (Dolton BST-8022, 1963) as the backdrop for a famous surfing championship trophy.

    • During a later business trip to Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, the hotel's restaurant often included songs by The Ventures as part of the music played over its public address system.

    • During a Christmas vacation trip to Florida, I stopped by a Sears store to buy some clothes. At the time I was wearing a T-shirt with The Ventures' logo on the back. The sales clerk immediately recognized the logo and mentioned how she had grown up with The Ventures and still had many of their albums.

The moral of these personal tales is that The Ventures are still known and loved around the world, and their fans can be found any and everywhere.

Conclusion

The current list of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is heavily balanced in favor of vocal artists, who have traditionally gained the most public attention and acclaim. (In fact, I can identify only two instrumental artists among the current inductees -- Booker T and the MGs and Duane Eddy.) However, behind every rock and roll singer is a back-up band, and behind many of those bands is the musical influence of The Ventures. They may not have created any of the sub-genres of rock and roll, but they took virtually every sub-genre, transformed them into their basic instrumental elements, and then took that instrumental music around the world and made American rock and roll the world's rock and roll. If that doesn't deserve recognition by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, then I don't know what does!

Please consider what I've written here, from the heart, and place The Ventures on the next ballot for inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And when that ballot comes up for a vote, remember the musical influence, artistic and commercial success, musical versatility, and universal appeal of The Ventures by voting them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Sincerely,

Arnold E. van Beverhoudt, Jr.
Committee Co-Chairman

P.O. Box 56
St. Thomas, VI 00804-0056
U.S.A.

Email: arnoldvb@islands.vi
Web: www.sandcastlevi.com

Attachments:

| To Cast Your Vote for The Ventures | Attachment 1 > |

To See Petitions Already Submitted, Select From the Following Options:
| September 1997 | March 1998 | May 1998 | May 1999 | June 2000 | July 2001 | March 2004 | November 2006 |


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Last Updated: March 15, 2004