In addition to their impressive chart records and status as Rock & Roll Hall of Famers, The Ventures have also inspired musical legends such as The Beatles, Beach Boys, Go-Go’s, and Kiss, per People. In fact, Gene Simmons was even in the band’s fan club at one point, while George Harrison told Guitar Player Magazine once that he preferred The Ventures’ American guitar styling to those of his British contemporaries.
That is a mighty fine legacy considering that Wilson and Ventures co-founder Bob Bogle got their fateful start while working as bricklayers in Tacoma, Washington. Purchasing their first guitars and chord books at a pawnshop in 1958, Wilson once reminisced, per NPR, “They were just really cheap guitars. They didn’t stay in tune very well. But we wanted to learn.”
Wilson also reflected on his band’s status as musical pioneers to People in 2020, revealing, “We never set out to be a surf band. Honestly, I love playing surf music — it’s very fun and it makes you feel good. But we never really considered ourselves a surf band. It was just all these things coming together — the surf culture, the electric guitar, Americana,” adding that the band enjoyed all genres of music — which Wilson quipped was “our ‘Venturizing’ of everything from classical to disco.”