Petition to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Cover Letter to the Formal Petition
Submitted on September 15, 1997

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

September 15, 1997

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation
c/o Ms. Susan Evans
1290 Avenue of the Americas, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10104

Dear Foundation Members:

I am writing to formally submit for consideration a petition (Attachment 1) to induct The Ventures into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "The Ventures Hall of Fame Induction Committee" is a grass roots group formed by rock 'n' 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 best, the most influential, the most versatile, and the most long-lived instrumental band in the history of rock 'n' roll. The fact that our campaign and this petition are even necessary is in itself a grave injustice to these fine musicians.

This package represents just the first batch of names of music lovers from around the world who agree that The Ventures belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The 586 names attached to the enclosed formal petition were collected through a "word of mouth" campaign that has been in existence for five short months. As our campaign grows and we collect more names, we will be forwarding additional petition packages in support of the induction of The Ventures into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In the meantime, I would like to take this opportunity to add some of my personal thoughts on The Ventures and some facts we have collected from various reputable sources.

Personal Insights

My personal association with The Ventures began in 1963, when I bought a copy of their album The Ventures Play 'Telstar' and 'The Lonely Bull' (Dolton BST-8019, 1963). It was "love at first hearing" -- a love that has endured and, indeed, grown over the past 34 years. The unmistakable driving guitars and drums of The Ventures inspired me (at the age of 13) to become interested in rock 'n' roll music and to start playing the guitar. With the help of The Ventures' innovative series of Play Guitar with The Ventures (Dolton BST-16501, 1965) instructional albums, I was soon a rather competent lead guitarist. I could not only play the songs included on the instructional albums, but was able to learn other songs "by ear." My The Ventures records also inspired some of my friends and classmates to become interested in music, and by the time we were in high school, we had started an instrumental band, which we called the "Screamin' Eagles." In later years, my younger brother and three nephews also learned to appreciate The Ventures' music and started to play guitars and drums (with some encouragement and instruction from me). One of my nephews eventually became a professional musician and today plays bass guitar with a reggae band in Miami.

Because of that early introduction to The Ventures, I have continued to be a big lover of rock 'n' roll music, having over the years acquired a huge collection of albums by such well-known rock 'n' roll musicians as Aerosmith, America, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Pat Benatar, Black Sabbath, Bread, Chicago, Crosby/Stills/Nash/Young, Fleetwood Mac, Genesis, Grand Funk, Iron Butterfly, The James Gang, Joan Jett, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Santana, Steppenwolf, Ten Years After, Three Dog Night, The Who, and ZZ-Top, to name just a few. The common thread that runs through all of these musicians is, of course, the driving guitar sound that underlies their music. Through all the risings and fallings of rock 'n' roll "superstars," however, The Ventures have remained my favorites because they are literally in a class by themselves. No other rock 'n' roll band, instrumental or vocal, has had the absolutely universal appeal, influence, and longevity of The Ventures. And none has time-and-again shown the fantastic versatility and musical innovativeness of The Ventures.

Why Induct The Ventures?

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

  • Classic '50s 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 II (Toshiba-EMI TOCP-50220, 1997)

  • 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 Thing! (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)

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

  • And even hip-hop - Surf on Guitar '96/Ryomei Shirai mix (Toshiba-EMI TODT-3746, 1996)

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

  • 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 - 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 perhaps 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 landmark album (The) Ventures in Space (Dolton BST--8027, 1964), which contains fantastic "other wordly" music and sound effects achieved on their guitars! In the arena of song-writing, their 50 original U.S. albums of the 1960s and 1970s included no less than 115 original compositions. That number of original compositions is probably even surpassed on their Japan-released albums of the 1970s and 1980s.

Universal Appeal. The Ventures have been, and continue to be, ambassadors for rock 'n' roll music throughout the world. Their discography (more on that later) 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, Italy, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. I sincerely doubt that any other recording artists -- rock 'n' 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 -- of their peak popularity in the '60s. A quick look at the tabulation of names attached to the enclosed formal petition (Attachment 1) shows that they are still known and loved by rock 'n' roll fans on every continent (again with the exception of Antarctica). Fans in 47 of the 50 United States and in Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Japan, Malaysia, the Maldives, Singapore, South Africa, and Australia 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 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 'n' 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.

  • Early this year, I was on my way to work, here on St. Thomas, 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 15-20 minutes discussing The Ventures and their music.

  • In May, 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 July business trip to Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, the hotel's restaurant often highlighted songs by The Ventures as part of the taped music played over its public address sytem.

  • During a vacation trip to Florida a couple weeks ago, 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 saleslady 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: The Ventures are known and loved around the world, and their fans can be found any and everywhere.

Artistic and Commercial Success. During their 37 years of existence (1960 to 1997), The Ventures have never stopped recording or playing to appreciative audiences. An unofficial discography compiled by myself (with the help of other The Ventures fans) includes an unbelievable 699 individual entries (Attachment 2). Discounting reissues, multi-national releases, and compilations, The Ventures have still recorded an amazing 105 original albums and 74 original singles worldwide. Of those, 37 U.S. albums and 14 U.S. singles hit the Billboard Top Pop charts (Attachment 3). In fact, here are some interesting statistics from Joel Whitburn's authoritative reference books "Billboard Top Pop Singles 1955-1993" and "Billboard Top Pop Albums 1955-1996."

  • The Ventures rank 4th among all-time instrumental artists on the Billboard Top 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 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 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 Albums charts.

  • The Ventures rank 379th among all-time recording artists on the Billboard Top Singles charts.

  • The Ventures placed 37 albums on the Billboard Top Albums charts during 1960 to 1972, 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.

  • The Ventures placed 14 singles on the Billboard Top Singles charts during 1960 to 1969, 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 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 1996, No. 32 in 1967, and No. 15 in 1969.

Although The Ventures "faded" away from the forefront of the popular music scene in the United States during the disco-crazed late '70s, 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 close to wrapping up their 35th anniversary summer tour! 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, 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 recent death of their legendary drummer Mel Taylor, The Ventures are now enjoying a resurgence of popularity in their home country. Two records companies (One Way Records of the U.S. and See for Miles Records of the U.K.) are deep into separate projects to reissue all of The Ventures original U.S. albums on 2-on-1 compact discs. As of September 1997, One Way Records has released 15 of these 2-on-1 CDs (with 7 more in the works) and See for Miles Records has released 20 2-on-1 CDs (with at least 2 more in the works). Also in 1997, GNP Crescendo records released a U.S. version of the Japanese CD Wild Again (Toshiba-EMI TOCP-8911, 1996), which represents the first album of all-new material released in the United States in 17 years and, according to many fans, is one of the most dynamic albums in the band's 37-year history. During the Spring of 1997, The Ventures played to sold out audiences in Los Angeles and San Diego, and they are reportedly planning an East Coast tour in either late 1997 or early 1998. As a result of all of these activities, old friends are rediscovering The Ventures' magic and new generations of fans are being introduced to them for the first time.

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.

For some unexplained reason, although the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame includes The Ventures' hit song "Walk, Don't Run" as one of the "Top 500 Hits of All Time" on its official Internet web site, it has not seen it fit to likewise recognize the important musical achievements and influence of The Ventures by inducting them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Musical Influence. And, if there is any question as to the important influence that The Ventures have had on American rock 'n' roll, the 1995 edition of "The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll" states 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 an entry on "surf rock," the Encyclopedia goes 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. Surf rock's influence can be heard in the music of Blondie, the Go-Go's, the Raybeats, Reverend Horton Heat, the Cramps, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, and many other musicians, including U2's the Edge. It made a splash again on the soundtrack of "Pulp Fiction" (1994), which included a song by Dick Dale. [And which incidentally also included the Lively Ones' version of "Surf Rider," which was composed by Nokie Edwards -- The Ventures' first lead guitarist.]

A large number of other musicians -- many of them considered to be rock 'n' 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).

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 (like my high school "Screamin' Eagles") 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 (Attachment 1) and you'll see concrete examples of the remarkable influence that The Ventures have had over the years. Rock 'n' roll superstars and superstar wanna-be's -- The Ventures influenced them all!

Conclusion

This "cover letter" has gone on much longer than I had originally intended. However, I think that it was important for me to state the strong and clear case for the induction of The Ventures into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 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 singer is an instrumental band, and behind many of those instrumental bands are The Ventures. They may not have created any of the sub-genres of rock 'n' 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 'n' roll the world's rock 'n' roll. If that doesn't deserve recognition by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, then I don't know what does!

Please take 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 versatility, universal appeal, artistic and commercial success, and musical influence 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: January 1, 2003