The Ventures’ Lead Guitarist Nokie Edwards, Dead at 82

Guitarist Nokie Edwards, shown during a 1996 performance in Orange County, died March 12 at age 82. (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)


For any kid who picked up an electric guitar in the 1960s, it never took long before they’d take a stab at trying to play “Walk Don’t Run,” the genre-defining surf-rock hit from 1960 popularized by the Ventures, which used that reverb-soaked recording as a launch pad to become the most successful instrumental group in rock history.

A key part of the song’s success, and the group’s enduring appeal that allowed it to chart more than three dozen albums during the ’60s and ’70s, wasn’t in reeling off as many notes as possible, but in keeping things simple.

“I believe in simplicity,” the Ventures’ lead guitarist Nokie Edwards told an interviewer in 2001. “If you have a melodic line, people will like it. If you can hum it, you can have a hit.”

Edwards, who died Monday at age 82 following an infection he’d been fighting since undergoing hip surgery in December, and his band mates proved the point with 14 hit singles as well.

That run started with “Walk Don’t Run” and included the mega-hit theme song to ‘”Hawaii Five-O” in 1969 as well as a revamped version of their first hit that ascended Billboard’s Hot 100 a second time in 1964.



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