Say It's Your Birthday: The Ventures Don Wilson

Quentin Tarantino made the sound of early sixties

twangy-surf guitar seem exotic all over again by his use of Dick Dale's

"Misrlou" in Pulp Fiction. While today's birthday person Don Wilson

(born 1937 in Tacoma, Washington) would no doubt appreciate this campy revival,

he could perhaps be forgiven for thinking the sound of his band the Ventures is

worth more than kitsch. It was dark days indeed for the electric guitar at the

time Wilson and his Seattle buddies Nokie Edwards, Bob Bogle, and Howie

Johnston (later Mel Taylor) assembled their classic two guitar/bass/drums/no

vocals quartet in 1959. This sound of "Walk Don't Run" was a blessed relief

from all the sappy syrup that was clogging the airways at that time, and

inspired countless kids the world over to pick up a guitar and plug in. All of

a sudden, radio didn't belong entirely to the pretty boys and plastic

girls, and the idea of spontaneously generated bands stayed alive during a

period when marketing calculation was the way most music was made. So if stuff

like the Jefferson Airplane can be in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, you'll

forgive the ATN Birthday Bureau for thinking that the Ventures deserve a shrine

all their own. Other birthdays Robbie Neville, Roberta Flack, Peter Allen, and

Brian Liesegang.