Underground Fire: The Ventures Network
What Is "Underground Fire"?
"Underground Fire" is an internet-based Ventures fan club that was originally launched on January 14, 1997 by Michael Salmons, a fan who was attending the University of Missouri. Shortly after the death of Ventures drummer Mel Taylor in 1996, fans began searching the internet for news about this tragic event and about the band itself. A small number of Ventures-related web sites were in existence at that time, including Paul Moraga's "Virtual Ventures," Richard Wilson's "Legendar Ventures," and the "Fabulous Ventures" section of Sandcastle V.I. Those web sites became the meeting places for online Ventures fans. Michael Salmons took it upon himself to try to organize our small group into an email discussion group, and the official announcement of the formation of the (still unnamed) group was sent out by Michael on January 14, 1997 to 21 interested fans. (A graphic image of that first message is available by clicking here.) One of the first orders of business was to come up with a name for the new group. Michael had suggested "Pipeline" and Richard Wilson suggested "Underground Fire," "Rap City," and "Surf Rider." Obviously, "Underground Fire" won out. It was a fitting name because our group was an unofficial or "underground" fan club and our purpose was to try to re-ignite the "fire" of Ventures fandom. Also, "Underground Fire" was the title of a very cool Ventures album and an original Ventures composition.
Underground Fire was organized as an email discussion group in which interested individuals subscribed through a mail server system. After that, messages sent to the group's email address by any member would automatically be distributed to all of the other subscribed members. The first big topic of discussion was a very heated debated as to which Ventures lead guitarist (Bob Bogle, Nokie Edwards, or Gerry McGee) was the best. Although there were very strong opinions on all sides, I think the consensus was that these three fine guitarists' styles were different, but that none could really be said to be "better" than the others. It was just a matter of personal taste that determined which was preferred by individual Underground Fire members.
I don't have a list of the original members of Underground Fire, but by April 1997, membership had grown from the original 21 to 79 members. Over the years since then, Underground Fire has held a poll of all of the Ventures' studio and live albums (excluding the many compilations) to determine the favorite songs on each album. This poll was managed by member David Isbell, and the Top 3 results are available as part of Sandcastle V.I.'s Album Ratings pages. In addition, Underground Fire member Richard Wilson was the catalyst for the fan campaign to try to get the Ventures inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Underground Fire has also served as a place for announcements about upcoming Ventures recording releases, concert dates, and other events of interest. It's also been a place where Underground Fire members can exchange ideas and information about their musical preferences outside of the Ventures, their favorite guitars, and even personal events (good and bad) in their lives. In a word, Underground Fire has become a "family" of individuals brought together by their interest in the music of the Ventures.
After Michael Salmons graduated from the University of Missouri and moved on, Bernd Motsch, a member in Germany, took on the responsibility for hosting the email discussion group. At first, we were set up under the Yahoo Groups system, but Bernd later moved us to a secure server under the "rocking-guitar.com" domain, were the group grew to become 173 strong as of October 2002. But Bernd had to close out the Underground Fire mail server at the end of September 2004. At that time Marty Tippens, one of our founding members, set up Underground Fire under the Yahoo Groups system, where it now resides.
To join Underground Fire, either visit groups.yahoo.com/group/undergroundfire2 and follow the on-screen instructions or:
You'll soon receive a return message confirming that you have been subscribed and giving instructions for removing your name from the list at a later time if you should so decide.
To send messages to all other Underground Fire members:
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1996-2015 Arnold E.
van Beverhoudt, Jr.