The Ventures are not only Rock & Roll Hall Of Famers but they have also directly influenced guitarists for the past 6 decades of all genres! I was thrilled to view The Ventures: Stars On Guitars ahead of it’s December 10th release from Vision Films. While I’ve long been a fan, I learned so much about the group’s origins (including Don Wilson’s mom Josie Wilson’s role in their early success by being a producer, running the fan club, etc., starting the band’s own Blue Horizon label, etc.) and how crazy popular they are all over the world particularly in Japan! It was great seeing people like John Fogerty, Deke Dickerson, Billy Bob Thornton, The Surfrajettes, Tim Polecat, Jeff “Skunk” Baker, Jimmy Page, Liz Brasher, Jeff Cook (Alabama) and so many more talk about The Ventures and gush over their influence on their music and playing style. I loved hearing early names of the group (The Versatones and The Impacts), jobs Don Wilson and Bob Bogle had early on (bricklayers) and everyone’s key role in the band’s success.
There was a time in the 60’s that The Ventures were outselling The Beatles 2 to 1. They’ve released over 250 albums (who has come anywhere close to that?!) and recorded over 3,000 songs! When most successful groups from that time period broke up years/decades ago, the band in it’s latest incarnation is still going strong. In fact, this documentary was supposed to debut at Viva Las Vegas this year but the festival had to cancel due to the Covid 19 outbreak. This outbreak also marked the first summer the band did NOT tour Japan since the early 60’s!
I was particularly excited to hear their first single with Don singing (“Cookies and Coke”). I’ll post a link below too. Over the years, they just kept finding new sounds on the guitar. Whether it was Nokie Edwards’ unique style or Don’s sometimes punk-like playing, they really blazed a trail especially with a twin guitar attack like that. They influenced surf, punk, heavy metal, psychedellic and more! It was also cool to hear about Glen Campbell, Carol Kaye, Hal Blaine and others playing on some sessions.
As opposed to the title of their massive hit, “Walk Don’t Run”…you should RUN and don’t walk to watch this documentary for yourself. If you are a fan, you’ll become a bigger one. If you aren’t one yet, you will be! It’s available on DVD and VOD outlets on December 8th!
Big thanks to Staci Wilson (Don’s daughter) who produced and directed this documentary for giving us access to it early.
Stars On Guitar trailer