Petition to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Cover Letter to the Formal Petition
Submitted on May 31, 1998
The Ventures Hall of Fame Induction Committee
c/o P.O. Box 56
St. Thomas, VI 00804-0056
May 31, 1998
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation
Attention: Ms. Susan Evans
1290 Avenue of the Americas, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10104
Dear Foundation Members:
I am writing to submit a third petition package in support of the
induction of The Ventures into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Petition packages were previously submitted on September 15, 1997 (via Certified Mail) and on March 15, 1998 (via Express Mail). This package
brings the total number of petition "signatures" we have submitted thus
far to 1,801 (Attachment 1). The summary of
petition responses (Page 4 of Attachment 1)
shows that The Ventures are known and loved by fans in all 50
States; the District of Columbia; the three U.S. territories of Puerto
Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam; and at least 30 nations in North and
South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and even Africa! This, more than
anything else, clearly demonstrates the universal appeal of The
Ventures and the fact that they have made American instrumental rock
and roll a universal "language" that brings people of widely different
cultural, political, and ethnic backgrounds together. I sincerely doubt
that any other rock group or artist (with the possible exception of the
Beatles) can make a claim of such widespread universal appeal.
In the transmittal letter for the first petition
package, I presented my personal views on why The Ventures
should be inducted. That case was based on a review of their musical
versatility, universal appeal, popular and commercial
success, and musical influence. In the transmittal letter for
the second petition package, I presented
comments from scores of fans around the world about how The
Ventures had affected their lives and the comments of several
well-known rock stars, including Peter Frampton, Elliot Easton, Rick
Derringer, and others, about how The Ventures had influenced their
musical careers. For this third petition package, I present some hard
facts about the musical success and achievements of The Ventures.
I believe that these petition packages clearly support, each from a
different perspective, the case for the induction of The Ventures
into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Ventures and the "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll"
A few days ago, I was browsing through the Internet web site of the Rock
and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. The web page describing one particular
exhibit -- 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll -- caught my
attention. According to the Museum's web site:
touch screen technology, visitors can access "500 Songs That Shaped
Rock and Roll" as selected by the Hall of Fame and Museum curatorial
staff. The songs, arranged by artist and by decade, cover a variety
of artists and genres and offer the listener an opportunity to sample
some of the most popular and influential recordings in the history of
rock and roll.
I was very surprised, yet very pleased, to find that the Hall of Fame and
Museum's curatorial staff had chosen "Walk, Don't Run" by The
Ventures as one of the "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll."
"Walk, Don't Run" is a song that predated, but helped to define
the genre of music that would later be called "Instrumental Surf Rock,"
and on that basis, I agree 100% with the curatorial staff that "Walk,
Don't Run" is a song that "shaped rock and roll."
But this brings up a rather interesting but unfortunate paradox. If
"Walk, Don't Run" is (as defined by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
on its own official web site) one of "the most popular and influential
recordings in the history of rock and roll," where is the
logic of the Hall of Fame continuing to ignore the recording artists who
created that song -- The Ventures -- as also being one of "the
most popular and influential recordings artists in the history of
rock and roll?"
The editors of "The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll"
(1995 edition) state that:
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. . . . In 1965, they released what was one of the first instructional
records,"Play Guitar with the Ventures."
In discussing "surf music," the Encyclopedia's editors also state that:
surf music featured throbbing tribal tom-tom tattoos and trebly, metallic,
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 subgenres.
It is ironic that, while the editors of this authoritative reference work
on the history of rock and roll recognize the important influence of both
"Walk, Don't Run" and The Ventures, and the Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame and Museum's curatorial staff at least recognizes the
important influence of "Walk, Don't Run," the Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame continues to ignore the important influence of the artists who
created that song -- The Ventures!
The Ventures and the Billboard Singles and Album Charts
Another authoritative reference source on the history of rock and roll
is Mr. Joel Whitburn, who's Record Research, Inc. painstakingly compiles
and publishes statistics on the recording industry. Information
contained in two of Mr. Whitburn's publications reveal some interesting
facts about the importance of The Ventures and their music in the
history of rock and roll.
My review of the current inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
(through 1997) shows that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has almost
completely ignored the important contribution of "instrumental" recording
artists and "instrumental" rock on the overall history of rock and roll.
Only two "instrumental" performers are among the Hall of Fame's 128
"performer" inductees -- Duane Eddy and Booker T and the
MGs. Just on the face of it, this appears to be a completely
disproportionate under-representation of "instrumental" performers in the
Hall of Fame, especially considering that very few popular vocal
performers would have gained their popularity and success without the
"instrumental" musicians who backed them up. For example, how popular
would the Beatles have been if they had sung a capella, without George's
"weeping" lead guitar, John's rhythm guitar, Paul's bass, or Ringo's
drums? (Let's see -- lead, rhythm, and bass guitars plus drums -- I
wonder who popularized that line-up for a rock and roll band?)
Regardless of the "vocal" versus "instrumental" issue, Mr. Whitburn's
authoritative reference books highlight some additional inconsistencies
with specific regard to The Ventures.
Joel Whitburn's reference book "Billboard Top Pop Singles: 1995-1993"
(the latest edition available to me) shows that:
- Between 1960
and 1968, The Ventures had 14 singles on the Billboard Top
Singles charts (Attachment 2),
including six "Top 40" and three "Top 10" singles -- "Walk, Don't
Run" (#2 in 1960), "Walk, Don't Run '64" (#8 in 1964), and "Hawaii
Five-0" (#4 in 1969). With the double "Top 10" placements of "Walk,
Don't Run" and "Walk, Don't Run '64," The Ventures became the
first and (to the best of my knowledge) only recording artists to
have hit the Billboard Top 10 twice with different versions of the
- Based on that
performance, The Ventures rank 4th among all-time instrumental
artists on the Billboard Top Singles charts, behind Duane Eddy (28
top singles), the Bill Black Combo (19 top singles), and Booker T
& the MGs (17 top singles). Duane Eddy and Booker T & the MGs have
already been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (in fact
they are the only instrumental artists in the Hall of Fame).
Based solely on their close ranking behind Duane Eddy and Booker T
and the MGs in the Billboard Top Singles charts, The Ventures
also deserve recognition by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
But, there's an even more compelling argument for their induction . . .
Joel Whitburn's companion reference book "Billboard Top Pop Albums:
1955-1996" (the latest edition available to me) shows that:
- Between 1960
and 1972, The Ventures had 37 albums on the Billboard Top Album
charts (Attachment 2), including
17 "Top 40" and one "Top 10" albums -- "The Ventures Play 'Telstar'
and 'The Lonely Bull'" (#8 in 1963). They also had three Gold
albums during this period -- "The Ventures Play 'Telstar' and 'The
Lonely Bull'" (1963), "Golden Greats" (1967), and "Hawaii Five-0"
(1969). In fact, The Ventures were consistent album charters,
with an amazing five albums on the Billboard Top Album charts
during 1963, and four albums on the charts in each year of
1962, 1965, 1966, and 1967!
- Based on that
performance, The Ventures rank 26th among all-time artists
(vocal or instrumental) on the Billboard Top Album charts, behind
Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Johnny Mathis,
Barbara Streisand, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Mantovani,
Bob Dylan, Ray Conniff, The Temptations, The Beach Boys, Neil
Diamond, James Brown, Lawrence Welk, Aretha Franklin, Andy
Williams, The Kingston Trio, Henry Mancini, Ray
Charles, The Supremes, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass,
Willie Nelson, Roger Williams, and Eric Clapton. If
the "non-rock" artists (underscored) are removed from this list, The
Ventures rank 13th among all-time rock artists on the Billboard
Top Album charts. Where are the only two instrumental inductees to
the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the charts? Well, Duane Eddy ranks
346th and Booker T and the MGs rank 430th!
- Further, The
Ventures rank 6th among recording artists (vocal or instrumental)
of the 1960s on the Billboard Top Album charts, behind The Beatles,
Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Ray Conniff, and Ray
Charles. Again, if the "non-rock" artists (underscored) are removed
from this list, The Ventures rank 3rd among 1960s rock artists
on the Billboard Top Album charts, behind the Beatles and Elvis Presley
-- pretty impressive company. How do Duane Eddy and Booker T and the
MGs compare? They aren't even in the top 20. Duane Eddy had only 10
albums (1959 to 1964) on the Billboard Top Album charts and Booker
T and the MGs had only 11 albums (1962 to 1971) on the charts, as
compared with The Ventures' 37 albums (1960 to 1972).
In summary, therefore, without detracting from the merit of having
inducted Duane Eddy and Booker T and the MGs into the Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame, where is the logic of not also inducting The Ventures?
On an overall basis, The Ventures have clearly achieved greater
popular and commercial success in the history of rock and roll than
either Duane Eddy or Booker T and the MGs. If they are worthy of
induction, so too are The Ventures!
The Ventures as Musical Composers and Innovators
In a 1989 video interview, Elliot Easton of the Cars stated that:
were the ultimate cover band. It was our first exposure to hits like
"Apache," which was a cover, and "Pipeline" was the Chantays, and "Wipe
Out" was the Surfaris, and "Walk, Don't Run" was Johnny Smith. But we
all knew them as Ventures songs, much the same way that young blues
players learn Muddy Waters songs from Rolling Stones records.
Indeed, perhaps The Ventures are best known for their
covers of popular hits of the day -- both instrumental and vocal.
However, to dismiss The Ventures as merely "imitators" would be
a gross misrepresentation of the facts and a disservice to a group of
extremely talented and hard-working musicians.
- First, with regard
to The Ventures' covers of instrumental hits, they did more
than just "imitate." I challenge anyone to listen to the original
and The Ventures' versions of such instrumental rock classics
as "Wipe Out" (The Surfaris), "Pipeline" (The Chantays), "Apache"
(The Shadows), "Telstar" (The Tornadoes), "Out of Limits" (The Marketts),
"Bulldog" (The Fireballs), "Time Is Tight" (Booker T and the MGs),
"Classical Gas" (Mason Williams),or even "Walk, Don't Run" (Johnny
Smith and Chet Atkins) and honestly tell me that The Ventures'
versions are merely "copies" of the originals! In virtually every
case, The Ventures took what was a "good" song and made it
a "great" song by adding their own unique musical signatures -- a
richer guitar sound, a more prominent bass line, a more percussive
rhythm, a more complex melodic lead, or a more distinctive driving
drum beat. In fact, as mentioned by Elliot Easton, many of the songs
mentioned above have become associated more with The Ventures
than with the original artists, because in the hands of The Ventures
those songs came alive like never before.
- With regard to
The Ventures' covers of vocal hits, they probably did more
to bring American rock and roll to the non-English speaking countries
of the world than any other recording artists in history, and certainly
in the 1960s. Through their steady stream of albums featuring instrumental
versions of the latest vocal hits of the day, The Ventures
allowed non-English speaking fans to enjoy those hits without the
language barrier getting in the way. This is one of the main reasons
why The Ventures became overnight idols in Japan and still
remain so popular in that country that they were recently signed to
do concert tours of Japan over the next five years -- well into the
21st Century. Listen to lead guitarists Nokie Edwards's or Gerry McGee's
renditions of such hits as "Runaway," "Satisfaction," "Light My Fire,"
"House of the Rising Sun," "Yesterday," "Eleanor Rigby," or any countless
others, and you'll almost hear their guitars singing the lyrics!
- But The Ventures
are more than "just" a cover band. They are also accomplished composers
in their own right. The recent cult-classic movie "Pulp Fiction" generated
a resurgence in the popularity of surf-rock music. One of the most
prominent songs was "Surf Rider," which was used for the film's end
titles. Few people realize that, although the version used in the
movie was by the Lively Ones, "Surf Rider" is an original composition
by The Ventures' lead guitarist, Nokie Edwards, and was recorded
by The Ventures as "Spudnik" before it was recorded by the
Lively One as "Surf Rider". Early in their career, The Ventures
hit on the successful pattern of producing themed albums that featured
6 or 7 instrumental covers of then-popular hits songs and 5 or 6 original
compositions. Many of those original compositions have become hits
themselves, including the already-mentioned "Surf Rider," "Journey
to the Stars," "Yellow Jacket," and "Gandy Dancer." When they began
producing records in Japan, The Ventures were soon tapped by
Japanese singers to compose songs for them. Many of those songs also
became big hits in that country both in their vocal and their instrumental
versions. Some of the better known Japanese pop compositions by The
Ventures include "Ginza Lights," "Hokkaido Skies," "Kyoto Doll,"
and "Reflections in a Palace Lake." In 1971, The Ventures became
the first non-Japanese to be inducted into the Japanese Conservatory
of Music in recognition of their position among the Top 10 composers
in that country. Quite an achievement for "down home" American rock
and roll musicians who are ignored by their own country's heralded
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Take a look at the list of The Ventures'
more than 135 original compositions (Attachment 3) and you'll have to agree that
they have achieved more in this aspect of the rock and roll music
industry than many artists/composers who are already in the Hall of
- Finally, during
the decade of the 1960s, when most recording artists were producing
singles (with albums thrown together almost as an after-thought),
The Ventures were innovators in that they concentrated on producing
themed albums (with singles being a by-product of the albums). They
began their careers in 1960 with the #11 charting "Walk, Don't Run"
album, and continued to build on this initial success during the next
40 years. Even today, when CD albums are the norm, few if any recording
artists produce more than one album every couple of years. At their
peak during the 1960s, The Ventures routinely produced five
or six albums every year, and throughout their 40-year careers
they have always produced at least one album each year! The Ventures'
discography (available online at www.sandcastlevi.com)
includes an unbelievable 64 U.S.-released LP albums during the period
of 1960 to 1988 (including 5 history-making instructional albums)
and 17 CD albums during the period of 1987 to 1998 (excluding CD reissues
of their LP albums). In addition, The Ventures' discography
includes an even more amazing 109 Japanese-released LP albums (excluding
reissues of their U.S. LP albums) during the period of 1963 to 1983
and 46 CD albums (excluding CD reissues of their LP albums) during
the period of 1984 to 1998. Further, The Ventures have had
121 LP and 26 CD albums (excluding CD reissues of their U.S. and Japanese
albums) released in 26 other countries in all continents except Antarctica.
Few recording artists of any decade and of any musical genre can match
The Ventures and Underground Fire
During the past two of years, I've been fortunate to have met and become
friends with more than 125 other fans of The Ventures who have
come together through the Internet in an email discussion group called
Underground Fire (the name of one of The Ventures' almost
400 albums). Attached are letters from several of the Underground
Fire members (Attachment 4), expressing
their personal stories as to how The Ventures have affected their
lives in a positive way. Some of the Underground Fire members
began to play guitar simply as a hobby, others went on to become
professional musicians, still others don't play a musical instrument but
have developed a love for rock and roll music in general. Some of them
have seen The Ventures in concert and have had the opportunity to
regard these men, not as "superstars" or "rock stars," but as
gentlemen (in every sense of the word) who truly care about the
quality of their music and who care equally as much about their fans.
As you read the attached letters, I hope you will agree with us that
The Ventures have been, and continue to be, true "ambassadors of
good will" for American rock and roll music throughout the world and
across generational boundaries. Perhaps even more importantly, The
Ventures have been, and continue to be, positive role models for the
youth of America and the world, as opposed to the drug-crazed, crass,
sexploitative recording artists that unfortunately represent so much of
rock and roll today. They have also positively influenced the lives of
countless fans in a way that has influenced the very development of rock
and roll. I would especially like to bring to your attention a series
of email messages (Pages 11 and 12 of
Attachment 4) discussing the recent "first gigs" of two 15-year old
Ventures fans. These two young men (Scott and Jonathan) are
living proof that, almost 40 years after they first appeared on the rock
and roll scene, The Ventures are still inspiring new generations
of fans to learn to play the guitar and become active participants in the
rock and roll phenomenon. I doubt you could name a single other rock
group or artist that can make such a claim!
But, there's even more. Some of the members of Underground Fire
have been influenced in a more direct way, as evidence by the fact that
Underground Fire is one of the only (if not the only) fan
organizations to have actually recorded and produced its own "tribute
album" to its musical heroes. In late 1997, 13 members of Underground
Fire took out their guitars and drums and made their own recordings
of themselves and/or their "garage bands" playing several of The
Ventures' songs. These individual tapes were then submitted to one
member with a home recording studio to pull the individual efforts
together into "Underground Fire Plays The Ventures," a not-for-sale audio
cassette tribute album to The Ventures. Earlier this year, the
members of Underground Fire recorded another batch of The
Ventures' songs for "Underground Fire Plays The Ventures, Volume 2,"
which is now being compiled and reproduced for distribution to the
members. A "Volume 3" is also already being talked about. I doubt if
any other rock and roll recording artists, past or present, can proudly
claim that their fans were so inspired by their music that they actually
made the effort of learning to play, recording, and producing their own
tribute album to their musical idols.
In closing, in case this letter, the attached letters from the members
of Underground Fire (Attachment 4), and
the additional letters submitted by fans from around the world as part
of the petition signature drive (Attachment 1)
aren't compelling enough, I have enclosed a single-copy audio cassette
that I compiled to highlight The Ventures' 40-year musical careers
(Attachment 5 for comments on the songs
included on the cassette). This cassette will give the members of the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation a small taste of the musical magic
spun by The Ventures. I'm certain that after they've taken a
listen, they'll agree to do the right thing and induct The
Ventures into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Arnold E. van Beverhoudt, Jr.
P.O. Box 56
St. Thomas, VI 00804-0056
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