Nokie Edwards, the influential lead guitarist for the “surf rock” pioneers the Ventures, has died at age 82.
Ryan Greenblatt, who works on booking for the Ventures in North America and Europe, confirmed his death Tuesday but didn’t immediately have further details.
“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,” reads a message on the group’s website, theventures.com. “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.”
The Ventures were an instrumental group founded in Washington state in the late 1950s by guitarists Bob Bogle and Don Wilson, with Edwards joining soon after. They helped create the driving, twangy surf sound that influenced the Beach Boys among others and were best known for the hits “Walk, Don’t Run,” on which Edwards played bass, and the theme for the TV show “Hawaii Five-O.” The Ventures sold millions of records and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, when they were introduced by John Fogerty. The Rock Hall praised the Ventures as “the most successful instrumental combo in rock and roll history.”
Although their prime years were in the 1960s, they continued to tour over the following decades, with Edwards a member off and on until 1984. The band enjoyed renewed attention in the 1990s after Quentin Tarantino featured their song “Surf Rider” on the “Pulp Fiction” soundtrack.
Edwards was born Nole Floyd Edwards in Lahoma, Oklahoma. He was a professional guitar player by age 12 and was playing in Buck Owens’ band at the time Bogle and Wilson met him. He continued to tour in recent years, and also appeared on the HBO drama “Deadwood.”