TACOMA, Wash. — Don Wilson, co-founder and rhythm guitarist of instrumental guitar band The Ventures, has died.
He was 88 years old.
Wilson died Saturday in Tacoma of natural causes, surrounded by his four children, The News Tribune reported.
The group’s hits included “Walk, Don’t Run” and the theme song to “Hawaii Five-O”. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.
“Our dad was an amazing rhythm guitarist who touched people all over the world with his band, The Ventures,” his son Tim Wilson said in a statement. “He will go down in history forever and was much loved and appreciated. He will be missed.”
In the 1960s and early 1970s, 38 of the band’s albums were recorded in the United States.
The Ventures had 14 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. With over 100 million records sold, the Ventures are the best-selling instrumental group of all time.
The group scored the No. 2 hit in the country with “Walk, Don’t Run” in 1960.
Ventures founders Bob Bogle and Wilson were bricklayers when they purchased guitars and chord books at a Tacoma pawnshop in 1958.
“They were just really cheap guitars,” Wilson once recalled. “They don’t tune very well. But we wanted to learn.”
The following year they had formed the Ventures, adding Nokie Edwards on bass and Howie Johnson on drums.
Johnson broke his neck in a car accident in 1961 and died in 1988. Skip Moore played drums on “Walk Don’t Run”, and Mel Taylor took over on drums and completed the classical formation, with Edwards on lead guitar, in 1962.
The band continued to perform through many line-up changes, but Wilson was the one constant throughout. He didn’t miss a single tour until his retirement in 2015, according to the family statement.