Thursday, March 15, 2018

Ventures Guitarist Nokie Edwards Passes On

Nokie Edwards, lead guitarist for The Ventures, died on March 12 2018 at the age of 82. The cause was an infection following hip surgery.

Nokie Edwards was born on May 9 1935 in Lahoma, Oklahoma. He came from a family of talented musicians and by the time he was five years old was already familiar with several stringed instruments. In his late teens he began playing for various country bands in his local area. He played for a time with Buck Owens. It was in 1959 that Bob Bogle and Don Wilson recruited Nokie Edwards as the bassist for their band The Ventures. It was in 1961 that Nokie Edwars took over playing lead guitar for the band, while Bob Bogle took over the bass.

The Ventures proved to be enormously successful, to the point that they may well be the most successful instrumental group of all time. Their 1960 single "Walk Don't Run" peaked at no. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. They would have another huge in 1968 with "Hawaii Five-O", the theme to the TV show of the same name. The Ventures would see even more success with their albums. Their first album, Walk, Don't Run, went to no. 11 on the Billboard album chart.  Their 1963 album The Ventures Play Telstar and the Lonely Bull went to no. 8 on the Billboard album chart. Their 1969 album Hawaii Five-O went to no. 11. At one point The Ventures had five different albums in the top 100 of the Billboard album chart at the same time.

Nokie Edwards left The Ventures for a time in 1969 to pursue a solo career. He released two solo albums, Nokie! in 1970 and Again! in 1972. Nokie Edwards returned to The Ventures in 1973 and recorded several more albums with them before leaving again in 1984. He recorded several solo albums, as well as albums with Texas Western swing band The Light Crust Doughboys. He collaborated with Art Greenhaw on several albums. In 1999 he began playing with The Ventures again on occasion and continued to do so until 2012. He also appeared on the HBO Western Deadwood.

As mentioned earlier, The Ventures may well be the most successful instrumental band of all time. They would have a far reaching influence. While they did not consider their work to be surf music, they would have a lasting influence on surf musicians from Dick Dale to The Chantays. Such diverse artists as George Harrison and John Fogerty counted The Ventures of influence. Much of the reason The Ventures were so influential was Nokie Edwards's guitar playing. He was a virtuoso on the instrument, and it was in full display in The Ventures' many records.

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