The Ventures' instrumental hit "Walk Don't Run" blasted from radios in the early 1960s, a cry of freedom and adventure more seductive and thrilling than the mawkish lyrics of teen romance that dominated the era.
Nokie Edwards, the Ventures' lead guitarist off and on for nearly six decades while recording solo albums and performing with other groups, died Monday at age 82 from an infection after undergoing hip surgery.
Group co-founder Bob Bogle played lead guitar and Edwards bass on the Ventures' first version of "Walk Don't Run," which rose to No. 2 on the charts in 1960. Because of his superior ability, Edwards switched to lead guitar for a new 1964 recording, which also made the top 10.
Edwards played lead guitar on other Ventures hits, including the theme from the TV show "Hawaii Five O," and their version of "Wipeout," first a hit by the Surfaris.
For guitar aficionados, Edwards engendered the mystique of Mosrite guitars, which gave the Ventures their spacey, reverb-heavy sound. Invented by Semie Moseley, Mosrites with their distinctive shape were considered by acolytes such as Kurt Cobain more authentic for rock than the better known Fenders and Gibsons.
Edwards and the Ventures pioneered the surf sound, with its message of California beaches, fast cars and the open road. The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, and Creedence Clearwater's John Fogerty were among the musicians who cited Edwards' influence.
While Edwards celebrated simplicity in his playing, he helped create a new American music, blending country, jazz, and the blues. He and the Ventures' music will live as long as a young guitarist learns to play "Walk, Don't Run" for the first time.