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Surfing music of the 60s with The Ventures

Updated on October 3, 2014
Walk, Don't Run
Walk, Don't Run | Source

The Ventures surfing music

Load up your MP3 player with the hottest tunes from the original west coast surfing music scene. A selection of the best surf music bands on the planet!

The Ventures are the classic surfing music band; their signature sound has influenced countless artists since the early days of rock 'n roll. In fact, the influence of their music can be seen around the world, with record-breaking album sales and concerts in several countries. The Ventures started touring in the early 60s and they continue to give sell-out performances to their loyal fans.

The band is known for creating catchy instrumental versions of popular songs and creating a mix of the best music for their albums based on a theme or genre of music. Hawaii Five-O is filled with cover songs of music made for films, theater and television; The Ventures In Space is all about rocket ships and sound effects popular during the "race to space". They have over 100 LP records issued in the US, and many more titles distributed in other countries.

Brief history of The Ventures - West coast surf rock music

The Ventures sound grew out of the great northwest, in Tacoma, Washington, near Seattle. The band started in 1958 when two brick layers, Don Wilson and Bob Bogle, got together because of their interest in music and guitars. They recruited Nokie Edwards and hired Howie Johnson on drums. After auditioning a few original numbers with vocal parts, the band started focusing on instrumental music to create unique cover songs of current pop music.

Johnson was injured in 1962 and left the band. He was replaced by Mel Taylor on drums who played with the band on and off until he passed away in 1996. Leon Taylor inherited the position of drummer from his father.

The current lineup of the band features the original members Don Wilson playing rhythm guitar, and Nokie Edwards playing lead guitar. Bob Bogle passed away in 2009, and now guitarist Bob Spalding tours with the band.

Volume 2 of the classic first album - Original songs from The Ventures

Walk, Don't Run Vol.2
Walk, Don't Run Vol.2

The second album with the Walk, Don't Run name, this time updated with new technology and a new sound. This LP includes an updated version of their number on hit song called "Walk, Don't Run '64", and three other original compositions by The Ventures


Surfer dude or land-lover poll

Surfing and swimming are excellent sports for endurance, strength - and lung capacity, it helps if you can hold your breath for a long time. Be sure to swim with a friend, learn about the underwater terrain and know what to do in a rip current.

Have you ever been on a surf board?

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The Ventures Mosrite Guitar headstock, photo by Mike Licht on Flickr
The Ventures Mosrite Guitar headstock, photo by Mike Licht on Flickr
Golden Greats By the Ventures
Golden Greats By the Ventures

One of the greatest album covers from The Ventures in the long tradition of long-legged women posing against a seamless background in a studio.


The first concept albums

50 years of great music

The Ventures created a partnership with the Mosrite guitar company early in their career. Manufactured exclusively for the band and appreciated world-wide for that perfect surf guitar sound. See the Ventures website directory (below) for their official website, current concert dates, reviews and more information from fan sites.

In addition to their unique instrumental music, The Ventures also worked on a novel scheme of packaging the songs together in "theme" albums which sold well from the start. In their fifty year career they have released at least 300 different LP records and compact disks. (Refer to the complete discography at Wikipedia). And the music is even more popular overseas. Their first tour of Japan was in 1965 and they continue to play big stadium concerts around the world. The Ventures were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008 and they hold the title as the best-selling instrumental band of all time.

Let's Go
Let's Go

This is the 13th LP record from The Ventures, released in August 1963. This album has a real rocking sound and a handful of their best songs that makes this one of the better albums to own. "Wipe Out" and a remake of "Runaway" by Del Shannon are the hottest tunes.


Original album cover art - Let's Go! back to the 1960s

Another great reason to collect The Ventures LP records is the album cover art. From the very first record released in 1960 - where the musicians are falling all over themselves for a girl - The Ventures have always released stylish album covers with pictures of beautiful girls in bikinis and imagery appropriate to the theme of the album. And there's many themes to choose from - Christmas albums, space age music, psychedelic music - all with The Ventures' distinctive instrumental arrangement for classic pop songs.

Just one problem, that's not The Ventures on the 1st album cover! Studio technicians stood in for the photographs while the band was away on tour. The album was re-released later with a new album cover featuring the original band members.

Japanese pressing - high quality import vinyl

Knock Me Out
Knock Me Out

Japanese pressings of The Ventures are made on heavy-weight vinyl with true audiophile quality sound, similar to Deutsche Grammophon LP records.


The Space Age

Telstar is the name of the very first communications satellite - launched into orbit around earth in July 1962. The world was captivated by the idea of fast communications, and a British band called the Tornadoes released a song named after the satellite in August of that year. The song was the number one single on the US and UK charts by December, and The Ventures performed Telstar on their fifth album, released in January 1963.

This was the first time that telephone and television signals could be sent overseas without using trans-oceanic copper wires stretched across the ocean floor. Now, there are approximately 8,000 satellites in the sky, with countless bits of "space junk", and Telstar has become a generic word for any communications satellite.

Telstar captured the imagination of the world


Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing

Hawaii Five-O
Hawaii Five-O

What person does not know the theme song of the Hawaiian detective show from the 1970s or become immediately gripped by the strong brass instruments mixed with the surfing sounds of The Ventures? (I have to say it) Book 'em, Dano!

The Ventures concert ticket 2011 New York City
The Ventures concert ticket 2011 New York City | Source

Best Surf music - Other great surf music bands

The Ventures played songs created by popular surf rock bands from the early sixties as well as a number of original hits. Bands like the The Bel-Airs, The Chantays, The Surfaris, The Tornadoes and Dick Dale and his Del-Tones created the surf sound that the Ventures molded into instrumental greats. The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean and later surf revival bands also created classic songs with that west coast surfing sound.

50 years of great vinyl - LP Records & 45s on sale at eBay

The Ventures produced over 300 different albums and performed around the world for 50 years. Find original album covers from this great legacy of music. Mono and stereo versions of the early LP records were published, and a few albums were re-released with different album cover art.

What do you think of the Ventures? - Tell us about the concert, or that one song...

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      You reminded me to listen to them more. Thanks!

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      6 years ago from UK

      Back for a second read of this geat lens. Lots of interesting information. I have great respect for The Ventures but I have to vote The shadows as my fave instrumental group. Comparisons between these two great groups have long been a source of interest in the UK. Blessed

    • GypsyOwl2 profile image


      6 years ago

      Fun music by the Ventures!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Love this lens, I always loved wipe out!

    • ottoblotto profile image


      6 years ago

      Totally cool

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I think that the Ventures were the gold standard for surf music in their time. I've always liked them better than the Beach Boys!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      what a great lens!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      The Ventures sounds great, I love it.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I remember them well! Great lens.

    • tcorbs profile image


      7 years ago

      Love surfing songs! The Ventures are the greatest.

    • CruiseReady profile image


      7 years ago from East Central Florida

      Love that surfer music@

    • timelapselove profile image


      7 years ago

      Surf music is great in movie soundtracks! Cool lens!

    • Calliope LM profile image

      Calliope LM 

      7 years ago

      I love the Ventures (especially the Hawaii 5-O theme). Now I'm getting my kids into it! :-)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      My head started nodding as soon as I pressed start on the MP3, what an amazing array of great songs and still performing!

    • dotpattern profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Moire 

      7 years ago from West Village, New York City

      @John Dyhouse: Thanks for your vote in the Best Surf music poll! I will definitely add the Shadows and some more great surf music bands.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      7 years ago from UK

      The Ventures arae a great band but for me The Shadows stand out with a cleaner sound and some great original tunes.

      Nice lens, well put together

    • JakTraks profile image

      Jacqueline Marshall 

      7 years ago from Chicago area

      A fun blast from the past!

    • dotpattern profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Moire 

      7 years ago from West Village, New York City

      @FanfrelucheHubs: That's great! Nothing better that introducing people to good music. The Ventures are very easy to get to know and love.

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 

      7 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      Wow that's some cool music. I love it! It's the first time I hear about Ventures and I think I am hooked.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      7 years ago from Vermont

      Wow you brought back some great memories with this Ventures lens. All the surf music was big big big when I was a young teen. I still love surf music, and the Ventures are a big fave. Must get some for the iPod.


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