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Co-founder of the guitar group The Ventures, Don Wilson, dies at 88


Guitarist Don Wilson has died at the age of 88. He co-founded the 1960s surf-rock group known as The Ventures.


At age 24, Wilson met Bob Bogle in Tacoma, Wash. They started playing guitar together while working as bricklayers by day. With some luck, they hit it big with this song, their first single, "Walk Don't Run."


INSKEEP: What made the band even more famous was their version of this theme song to the show "Hawaii Five-O."


MARTIN: Thirty-eight of the band's albums made it onto the Billboard charts. There was even a time in 1963 when they had five albums on the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously. And then in 2008, The Ventures were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

INSKEEP: Along the way, The Ventures were big in Japan. So huge that in 2010, Japan's emperor awarded the band that nation's second highest honor, the Order of the Rising Sun.

MARTIN: But what fans really kept coming back for was Wilson's rhythm guitar playing and the band's innovative use of sound.


DON WILSON: It's a dream come true, you know? When you start and so many other groups follow - you know, we had influenced so many different musicians, which is very gratifying, you know?

MARTIN: Over a dozen musicians cycled in and out of the four-man band, but it was Wilson who remained a constant up until his death.

INSKEEP: To this day, The Ventures, including Don Wilson, are the bestselling instrumental group of all time.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE VENTURES' "PERFIDIA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lisa Weiner is a line producer on Morning Edition. For NPR, she's covered the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and traveled to Ukraine to cover the Russian invasion in 2022. Prior to joining NPR, she held positions as an editor at WTOP-FM, as an engineer at Radio Free Asia and recorded audio books for the Library of Congress. Weiner has a master's degree in audio technology from American University. She got her start in radio working the late-night shift as a student DJ in the basement of WRUR-FM at the University of Rochester. Weiner has lived in Tel Aviv, Israel, and Budapest, Hungary.

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