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
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.
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,
- 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)
- 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,
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,
- 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
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
- 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
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
- In 1996, The
Ventures were inducted into the Hollywood Rock Walk in recognition
of their influence on the development and continued popularity of
- 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:
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:
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
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.
Arnold E. van Beverhoudt, Jr.
P.O. Box 56
St. Thomas, VI 00804-0056
| To Cast Your Vote for The Ventures
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