Nokie Edwards, founding bassist and later lead guitarist of the influential surf-rock group The Ventures, died Monday, March 12, at age 82 after battling an infection following hip surgery this past December.
A message on the band’s website announced Edwards’ passing. “The Ventures family feels this loss very deeply: Nokie has been part of the Ventures’ history for almost 6 decades and helped to shape the early Ventures’ sound and the success of their career,” the note reads.
“He was an innovator and one of the greats on guitar, so much so that he influenced many young players over the course of his career.”
Edwards joined The Ventures in 1960, and played bass on the instrumental group’s biggest hit, “Walk Don’t Run,” which peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 that year. In 1961, Edwards switched to lead guitar, taking over for fellow founding member Bob Bogle, who then became the band’s bass player.
In 1964, The Ventures with Edwards on guitar recorded an updated version of “Walk Don’t Run,” titled “Walk Don’t Run ’64,” that reached #8 on the chart. The band scored another big hit in 1968 with their rendition of the Hawaii 5-0 theme, which peaked at #4.
The Ventures also were very popular in Japan, and the band’s 1964 tune “Ginza Lights,” which Edwards wrote, is considered a standard in that country.
Nokie left the group that same year, but in 1972, he returned for another stint that lasted until 1984. Edwards continued to make guest appearances with The Ventures from 1999 to 2012, and also toured as a solo artist.
In 2002, Nokie launched his own guitar company, called HitchHiker Guitars. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Ventures in 2008.
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