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Don Wilson, co-founder and guitarist for instrumental rock band The Ventures, dies at the age of 88


Don Wilson, co-founder and guitarist for the instrumental rock band The Ventures, dies at the age of 88

  • Wilson’s family confirmed that he passed away peacefully in his sleep on Saturday morning in Tacoma, Washington
  • He co-founded The Ventures with his friend Bob Bogle in 1958 
  • The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008
  • The Ventures are the best selling instrumental rock band of all time with over 100 million records sold


Don Wilson, the guitarist for the influential instrumental rock band the Ventures, died on Saturday at the age of 88.

The musician’s family confirmed to PEOPLE that he died peacefully and of natural causes on Saturday morning in Tacoma, Washington with his four children by his side.

‘Our dad was an amazing rhythm guitar player who touched people all over world with his band, The Ventures,’ Don’s son Tim Wilson said in a statement. ‘He will have his place in history forever and was much loved and appreciated. He will be missed.’

Legend: Don Wilson, the guitarist for the influential instrumental rock band the Ventures, died on Saturday at the age of 88; Pictured at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on March 10, 2008 in NY

Legend: Don Wilson, the guitarist for the influential instrumental rock band the Ventures, died on Saturday at the age of 88; Pictured at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on March 10, 2008 in NY

Wilson co-founded The Ventures with his friend Bob Bogle in Tacoma in 1958. 

The original lineup of the band consisted of Wilson playing the rhythm guitar, Bogle playing bass, Nokie Edwards on lead guitar, and Mel Taylor on the drums.

The quartet recorded 37 albums between 1960 and 1972 and is the best selling instrumental rock band of all time with over 100 million records sold.   

They are most famous for their electric guitar-led rendition of Johnny Smith’s Walk, Don’t Run, which is included among Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time, as well as the theme music to the television show Hawaii Five-O.

Peaceful: The musician's family confirmed to PEOPLE that he died peacefully and of natural causes on Saturday morning in Tacoma, Washington with his four children by his side; Pictured in 2008

Peaceful: The musician’s family confirmed to PEOPLE that he died peacefully and of natural causes on Saturday morning in Tacoma, Washington with his four children by his side; Pictured in 2008

The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008 by John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

On their site, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame called The Ventures a ‘quintessential instrumental rock and roll band.’

‘Few bands are as prolific as the Ventures—they released thirty-seven albums in twelve years, many of them thematic. They rocked America in the sixties and went on to lasting international fame and influence,’ the description stated.

Influential band: Wilson co-founded The Ventures with his friend Bob Bogle in Tacoma in 1958; Wilson and Bogle pictured in 1961

Influential band: Wilson co-founded The Ventures with his friend Bob Bogle in Tacoma in 1958; Wilson and Bogle pictured in 1961

Musical icons: The quartet recorded 37 albums between 1960 and 1972 and is the best selling instrumental rock band of all time with over 100 million records sold; From left Bogle, Nokie Edwards, Wilson and Howie Johnson pictured in 1960

Musical icons: The quartet recorded 37 albums between 1960 and 1972 and is the best selling instrumental rock band of all time with over 100 million records sold; From left Bogle, Nokie Edwards, Wilson and Howie Johnson pictured in 1960

Electric hits: They are most famous for their electric guitar-led rendition of Johnny Smith’s Walk, Don’t Run, which is included among Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time; From left Johnson, Wilson, Edwards and Bogle

Electric hits: They are most famous for their electric guitar-led rendition of Johnny Smith’s Walk, Don’t Run, which is included among Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time; From left Johnson, Wilson, Edwards and Bogle

In the Hall of Fame Essay, John Teagle praised the band for their extensive body of work and influence on music.

‘Beginning with 1960’s ‘Walk Don’t Run,’ the Ventures created a body of work that remains untouchable by any other instrumental group in the history of rock & roll,’ he wrote.

He went on to say, ‘The band’s influence has extended from nascent surf music to the British Invasion, garage rock, psychedelia, heavy metal, new wave, and beyond.’

Wilson was the last remaining member of the band’s original formation.

Rock and roll legends: The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008 after being named the 'quintessential instrumental rock and roll band'; John Durrill, Don Wilson, Nokie Edwards, Leon Taylor and Bob Spalding (with Fiona Taylor, right) pose in the press room during the Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on March 10, 2008

Rock and roll legends: The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008 after being named the ‘quintessential instrumental rock and roll band’; John Durrill, Don Wilson, Nokie Edwards, Leon Taylor and Bob Spalding (with Fiona Taylor, right) pose in the press room during the Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on March 10, 2008

Last original member: Wilson was the last remaining member of the band’s original formation; Pictured attending the reception for A Celebration Of The Ventures at the GRAMMY Museum on Jan 9, 2020 in Los Angeles, California

Last original member: Wilson was the last remaining member of the band’s original formation; Pictured attending the reception for A Celebration Of The Ventures at the GRAMMY Museum on Jan 9, 2020 in Los Angeles, California

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