Surf’s Up: Rest In Peace, Don Wilson

 

Don Wilson, the last surviving founder and guitarist of pioneering surf-rock group The Ventures, has died at 88, his representative confirmed to USA TODAY.

“Don was an inspiration and mentor. He was a unique talent that inspired countless musicians like us,” read a statement posted to the band’s social media pages and confirmed by representative Sandra Abrahamian Spalding. “We lost a good friend, fellow musician, world class performer, and beloved bandmate. Don Wilson has left the stage. We will miss him always.”

The California surfing scene in the 1960s influenced clothing, haircuts, and music. It was more benign than the Hippy movement that would come later, but to some parents becoming a “surf bum” was something they wanted their children to avoid.

I graduated from high school shortly before my 17th birthday. I told my parents that I was going to take a year or two off before I went to college. They were not impressed with my early retirement plan and told me that I would have to obtain full-time employment.

I worked the early shift at Mcdonald’s. My surfboard and wetsuit were locked in my car. As soon as my shift was over I was driving west on Highway 17 to Santa Cruz and Capitola to catch some waves.

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There are 11 comments.

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Oh, man! What fun! I grew up in Orange County, CA and never surfed but we had lots of guys who did. (I must admit I didn’t know any girls who did.) It’s sad that Don has passed on, but his music inspired many of us in the ’60s. What a sweet trip down Memory Lane. Thanks, Doug.

    • #1
  2. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    And here they are from 1960:

     

     

     

     

     

    Thanks for posting, Doug. The Ventures are still influential today.

    • #2
  3. Michael Minnott Member
    Michael Minnott
    @MichaelMinnott

    The Ventures were monsters of instrumental rock!  Here’s my favorite version of the Hawaii Five O theme, without the extra orchestration, but with the addition of Max Weinberg making for a two-drummer attack.  Good stuff!

     

    • #3
  4. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    They were an inspiration for garage bands everywhere.  They weren’t called “The band that launched a thousand bands” for nothing.

    • #4
  5. aardo vozz Member
    aardo vozz
    @aardovozz

    Someone should post their 1998 version of “Walk, Don’t Run” with their original drummer. It was fun( and a class act also if you watch the whole thing 🙂🙂🙂)

    • #5
  6. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Doug Watt: Don Wilson, the last surviving founder and guitarist of pioneering surf-rock group The Ventures…

    Thank you, Doug, if you want to post occasional pieces on the greats of surf rock, I will not object at all.

    I think there was one here a few years ago about Les Paul which touched on surf music.

    See this 2019 post at Instapundit about Dick Dale.

    • #6
  7. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    • #7
  8. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Hard to imagine; a general who actually knew what he was doing…

    • #8
  9. Michael Minnott Member
    Michael Minnott
    @MichaelMinnott

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Doug Watt: Don Wilson, the last surviving founder and guitarist of pioneering surf-rock group The Ventures…

    Thank you, Doug, if you want to post occasional pieces on the greats of surf rock, I will not object at all.

    I think there was one here a few years ago about Les Paul which touched on surf music.

    See this 2019 post at Instapundit about Dick Dale.

    I second that.  After The Ventures, the next great instrumental band to touch on IMHO is The Shadows (Cliff Richards’ old backing band).

    • #9
  10. Unsk Member
    Unsk
    @Unsk

    Aw those were the days. Great stuff. 

    • #10
  11. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Eternal rest in peace.  The music was great.

    • #11
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