Petition to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Cover Letter to the Formal Petition
Submitted on November 1, 2006

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

November 1, 2006

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

Dear Foundation Members:

I am again 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. Of course, we were all extremely disappointed to see the list of nominees for 2007 and realize that The Ventures have been ignored again. Hopefully they will be given serious consideration for induction in 2008. In the rest of this cover letter, we highlight the reasons why The Ventures deserve to be inducted.

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 a universal appeal that has impacted and spread the popularity of American rock and roll music to the world and continues to attract new listeners almost 50 years after their beginnings in 1959.

In other words, as stated in the Hall of Fame's own statement of purpose, The Ventures "have had a significant impact over the evolution, development, and perpetuation of rock and roll" and, therefore, are deserving of induction into the Hall of Fame.

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, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has so far not inducted the The Ventures, 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.

    • in 2004, The Ventures were among 156 individuals and organizations honored by the Government of Japan for having contributed to the development of Japanes culture (in the case of The Ventures, Japanese "pop" music) and to the maintenance of the friendly relationship betwee the United States and Japan.

    • In 2006, the Grammy Hall of Fame added "Walk Don't Run" by The Ventures to their list of the most influential songs in the history of music! This honor was bestowed upon The Ventures by vote of music producers, composers, and artists.

  • "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!

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 6) 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, in 3 of the five United States overseas territories, and in 56 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.

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: November 20, 2006