Music

RIP Bob Bogle

The Ventures guitarist has passed away at the age of 75.

Bob Bogle, a founding member of the Ventures, the long-running guitar band whose jaunty 1960 hit “Walk — Don’t Run” became an early standard of instrumental rock ’n’ roll and taught generations of guitarists how to make their solos sparkle, died on Sunday in Vancouver, Wash., where he lived. He was 75.
The cause was non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Fiona Taylor, the Ventures’ manager, said.
Although not the first instrumental band of the rock era, the Ventures were the most successful and enduring, applying their twangy, high-energy sound to dozens of albums. Older than the typical teenage garage band, the members of the Ventures cut wholesome figures, their guitar gymnastics coming across as good, clean sport.
Mr. Bogle and Don Wilson, two young construction workers and novice guitar enthusiasts, started the group in Tacoma, Wash., in 1958. Unable to attract a record label, they founded their own, Blue Horizon.
Their first single, “Cookies and Coke,” was a flop, but for their second they chose “Walk — Don’t Run,” a tune by the jazz guitarist Johnny Smith that Mr. Bogle had discovered on a Chet Atkins album. The Ventures transformed the gentle original with a quick tempo and bright, punchy guitars. Mr. Bogle played the lead part, punctuating the melodies with springy vibrato and various noisemaking tricks.
“They took a jazz song that had some swing to it, and they garaged it out,” Peter Blecha, author of “Sonic Boom: The History of Northwest Rock From ‘Louie Louie’ to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ ” said in an interview on Tuesday. “They stomped their way through it, ignored the niceties of the sound and made it palatable to 15-year-old tastes.”
In the summer of 1960 the single became first a regional hit and then, with distribution by the Liberty label, a national one. It eventually reached No. 2 and sold 2 million copies, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Later that year, when the group prepared to tour, it enlisted a more dexterous guitarist, Nokie Edwards, and Mr. Bogle moved permanently to bass guitar. Howie Johnson was the drummer in the original band, later to be replaced by Mel Taylor.
“Walk — Don’t Run” became the Ventures’ formula, applied on hundreds of subsequent records. That same year, 1960, they had another hit with their instrumental version of “Perfidia,” a much-covered song by the Mexican songwriter Alberto Domínguez. (Charlie Parker, Glenn Miller, Nat King Cole and Linda Ronstadt, among others, have also recorded versions of it.)
The band covered pop hits, television theme songs and various novelties in the signature Ventures style, including Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line,” “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue” and the “Batman” theme. Psychedelic albums followed in the late 1960s, and in 1972 the Ventures covered “Theme From ‘Shaft,’ ” the blaxploitation classic by Isaac Hayes.
The Ventures scored a total of six Top 40 hits throughout the ’60s, including a surf remake of “Walk — Don’t Run,” which reached No. 8 in 1964, and a version of the “Hawaii Five-O” television theme, which went to No. 4 in 1969.
In 1965 the group released an instructional album, “Play Guitar With the Ventures,” and over the years many top rock guitarists, including George Harrison and John Fogerty, have acknowledged a debt to the band.
By the 1970s, the Ventures’ popularity had begun to wane in the United States, although they remained successful in Japan, where they had toured from their earliest years to the present; confounding record collectors, the group made dozens of albums exclusively for release in Japan.
Among Mr. Bogle’s survivors are his wife, Yumi; his brothers Clarence, Dennis and Curtis; a sister, Sybil; his sons Gary, Mike, Paul, Randy and Brandon; a daughter, Kathy; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The Ventures were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008; Mr. Fogerty was the presenter. Mr. Bogle was not in attendance, but Mr. Wilson and Mr. Edwards were, and Ms. Taylor, the band’s manager and widow of Mel Taylor, accepted the honor on his behalf. Mr. Taylor died in 1996, and Howie Johnson had died in 1988. At the ceremony, the band performed the “Hawaii Five-O” theme and “Walk — Don’t Run.”
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