Introduction to The Ventures
In my opinion, one of the most versatile, but under-rated musical groups in the United States is The Ventures. My personal relationship with The Ventures began in 1964, when their ninth album The Ventures Play Telstar and The Loney Bull was climbing the album charts to #8. I was totally taken in by the sound of their driving guitars. Around this time, The Ventures also released a series of Play Guitar with the Ventures albums, each of which included a booklet with fingering diagrams for the lead, rhythm, and bass parts of four of their hits. Tequila and Walk, Don't Run were the first two songs I ever learned to play on the guitar, and with the basics learned from the four albums, I soon was able to pick up the lead section of other Ventures' hits. In high school, several friends and I even tried to organize an instrumental group, which we called the "Screamin' Eagles." The "Eagles" didn't scream too long, however, when we graduated and went on our separate ways.
At the time, the Columbia Record Club was a main source for The Ventures' new albums. In fact, the Ventures even produced an album -- The Versatile Ventures -- that was available only to Columbia Record Club members. Over the years, I continued to eagerly await each month's Record Club catalog to see if any new Ventures albums were available. Gradually, the output of Ventures' albums seemed to grow less and less until, by the mid-70s, the Record Club stopped listing any new ones in its catalog. The last original Ventures album that I got was the 2-record set called Only the Hits, which included instrumental versions of such songs as You Are the Sunshine of My Love, Killing Me Softly, Live and Let Die, and Alone Again, Naturally. I assumed that The Ventures had ceased to exist. But in retrospect, it seems like what actually happened was that the disco craze that was sweeping the popular music scene at the time resulted in The Ventures, and many other recording artists, losing some of their popularity in the United States. Whatever the reason, Ventures albums just weren't widely distributed or publicized beyond the 70s.
Ignorant of the fact that The Ventures, in fact, were still very active and still recording new albums on a regular basis (at least in Japan), my collection of Ventures LPs became one of my most prized posessions. Unfortunately, Hurricane Marilyn struck the Virgin Islands in September 1995, severely damaging my home and destroying those priceless records. After getting my home and my family's life back together after the hurricane, I started a hunt for sources of Ventures LPs or CDs. That's when I became aware that I had missed out on almost 15 years of Ventures music! I came across a catalog for Collector's Choice Music that had a compilation of Ventures "greatest hits." That was my first new acquisition. Some months later, Collector's Choice listed a couple import CDs by See for Miles Records (U.K.) that included two original Ventures LPs on each CD. My collection of Ventures CDs has mushroomed since then, with a long list of new 2-on-1 releases by See for Miles, additional 2-on-1 releases by One Way Records, and additional compilations from other records companies. Many of these reissues and compilations included bonus tracks with tunes that were not previously available in the United States, including some of the Ventures' Japanese recordings.
In an ironic way, Hurricane Marilyn did me a favor by destroying my collection of Ventures' LPs. If it wasn't for the hurricane, I may never have found the wealth of Ventures recordings that had been produced since the mid-1970s. So, more than 30 years after my first encounter with The Ventures Play Telstar and the Lonely Bull, I was hearing and enjoying great new Ventures' tunes for the first time!
Another Ventures milestone occurred for me in April 2008, when I had my first opportunity to see The Ventures perform live and in person. They performed nine 30-minute shows over a 3-day period at the Epcot theme park at Walt Disney World as part of Epcot's annual Flower Power concert series. My wife and I made a special trip to Florida specifically to see The Ventures perform. We saw eight of the nine shows, and also had the opportunity to personally meet Don Wilson, Nokie Edwards, Bob Spalding, and Leon Taylor (plus business manager Fiona Taylor and road manager Jack deFranco) at a fan "meet and greet" organized by The Ventures while they were in Florida. You can see some of the pictures from these Epcot performances by clicking here.
The Ventures Menu
| Band History
| History in Music
| Photo Album
| Graphic Chronology
1996-2013 Arnold E.
van Beverhoudt, Jr.