Monday, May 25, 2015

The Ventures, The 60s Surf Band, Still Big in Japan!

(That's me holding the poster for the "Ventures Final Show in Japan." I did drink with Don Wilson - the guy who is second from right - the one that looks like Rock N Roll Santa Claus. How could I forget that face? Nice guy.)


This is a short post about some guys who really inspire me. You know them as "The Ventures." They were huge in the sixties all over the western world.
They are still big in Japan...

Here's what Wikipedia says about the Ventures

"The Ventures are an American instrumental rock band formed in 1958 in Tacoma, Washington. Founded by Don Wilson and Bob Bogle, the group in its various incarnations has had an enduring impact on the development of music worldwide. With over 100 million records sold, the group is the best-selling instrumental band of all time. In 2008, the Ventures were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their instrumental virtuosity, experimentation with guitar effects, and unique sound laid the groundwork for innumerable groups, earning them the moniker "The Band that Launched a Thousand Bands".

While their popularity in the United States waned in the 1970s, the group remains revered in Japan, where they tour regularly to this day. "

It's true. The Ventures are still big in Japan.

May I brag? I have drank with Don Wilson at a rip-off bar in Roppongi before...  I think that must have been in about 1988 or 1989. I have a photo around here someplace... If I can find it, I'll put it into this blogpost. Don was a nice guy and the boss of the bar was kissing his ass the entire time I was there and Don put me on the guest list for the show... (So, how could I forget, no matter how drunk I was? And I mean, how many people look like Burl Ives or a a Surfer Santa Claus?)

And don't really remember too much from that night excepting that Don was a nice guy, soft spoken, and I drank too much.

We drank Dom Perignon and it was outrageously expensive (I remember that). And I didn't have to pay anything, they paid. I was blown away that they would pay for some shitty DJ in Japan's drinks....

I vaguely remember the bar's name (I think it was "Chalace" or "Chantay" or something like that) and I have been by there in the last few years but it is now gone.

Good riddance.

I think it was like ¥90,000 (almost a thousand US dollars) for a few bottles of Dom Perignon and some snacks. What a rip off! Thank God my girlfriend and I didn't have to pay!

Anyway, like it says, the Ventures are still big (sort of) in Japan to this day. So big that they are actually having a "Final Show." Well, what the hell? I guess so, I thought all the original members were dead?

Anyway, a Final Live, they have!

It's kind of like my Punk Band when I was a youngster: every show we played was our "Final Show" (or "Last Final" or "Totally Final" or "Really, We're Not Joking This Time, Final" or "Seriously, the Final Final.")

But this just goes to show that if you have a brand and a name and an image, you gotta stick with it and live the dream.

The Ventures are playing Japan (again!) and the tickets are ¥6000 each! Holy Holy! That's $50 (USD) a pop! And the venue they are playing at The Mozart Hall at Katsushika Symphony Hills Mozart Hall and that place holds about 1300 people! You do the math: $50 x 1300 = $65,000 to go to Japan and play one night? Why not?

And that's not to mention what they get selling merchandise and a bunch of money from sponsors.

Is that cool or what?

So, well, the point is that:

1) Ventures are still big in Japan.

2) The Ventures can still come here and get paid to play and have fun.

3) They must all be in their late 60s or early 70s yet they can still tour the world and be treated like Rock Gods in Japan.

4) They probably still get to go out drinking in Japan and spend $1000 a night yet some rich Japanese person picks up the tab.

Scoff all you want... But you won't find me disrespecting these people.

They rock! They have lived the true "Rock and Roll Dream."

I wish I can do the same when I'm 80 years old! Don't you?

NOTE: Holy Shit! I just found out that Don Wilson was born in Feb. 1933! That makes him 82 years old as of the writing of this article! Wow! What a wonderful life! And he is on his final tour of Japan! You rock Don!!!! You are a hero!


This article reprinted from Robot55 ロボット・ゴー・ゴー (


Andrew Joseph said...

How come you didn't tell people to walk don't run or something involving pencil drumming in this blog - something I know I've done on many an occasion to Wipeout.
82-years-old and still playing rock and roll?! That's awesome.

Anonymous said...

OH! That's who they are! I didn't know until I listened to the video.

I kept wondering how they were so popular in Japan.

Is it because the video, the music, the tempo - the Ideal - they are maybe conveying, represents what the world thought the UnitedState stood for, and falsely still thinks it does?

Johnny Quest-sim, what's that? ... With a tad bit of Cargo Cult?

The empire is full of mad men, and women. Stark raving mad, I tell, ya.

Anonymous said...

I hope you realize they are not just doing that show, but are doing 38 shows all over Japan this summer. The Ventures pretty much introduced the electric guitar into Japan, and over the years wrote many songs for the Japanese market, many which have become standards in Japan. Best of luck to The Ventures, and especially Don Wilson, on this tour!

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