It was familiar music in an unfamiliar setting: The driving beat of “Walk, Don’t Run” filling a funeral chapel.
But for the funeral of Bob Bogle, a co-founder of The Ventures, it was a fitting anthem. That was him playing lead guitar on the recording.
It was the song that helped ignite The Ventures’ careers almost 50 years ago. And that particular version was among the last songs the longtime bandmates recorded together.
“It was one of the last things we did,” said Don Wilson, the band’s co-founder.
Bogle, who suffered from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, died Sunday in a Vancouver hospital after becoming ill over the weekend. He was 75.
During the service at Evergreen Memorial Garden Funeral Chapel, Wilson recalled how he was selling cars in 1958 when he met Bogle, a construction worker.
They bought a couple of guitars from a Tacoma pawn shop and started playing.
But it wasn’t just a musical collaboration, said Wilson, now a resident of Sammamish.
“In 51 years, we never had an argument,” Wilson said, referring to Bogle as “the brother I never had.”
After the funeral service, Wilson recalled some of the places where the fledgling band — they started out as the Versatones — was booked around the Tacoma area. There was this club south of town that drew GIs from Fort Lewis and airmen from McChord Air Force Base.
“The place was so rough they had a cop at the door — a guy named ‘Tiny,'” Wilson said, holding his hand high over his own head. “There was a paddy wagon parked outside. When Tiny threw a guy in the back of the paddy wagon, he wouldn’t drive him downtown because he knew there would be another three or four coming along.”
In 1960, Bogle and Wilson heard “Walk, Don’t Run” on a Chet Atkins album. With Nokie Edwards, they gave it their own treatment and the song peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard chart.
“It’s been called the greatest two minutes in rock ‘n’ roll history,” Wilson said.
Bogle and his family moved from Los Angeles to Vancouver in 1986, said his brother, Clark County resident Dennis Bogle.
While the musician kept a low profile, his influence was felt around the world.
Brad Owen, Washington’s lieutenant governor, came from Olympia to pay tribute to Bogle. He grew up in Tacoma just as The Ventures were taking off. He wanted to be famous, too, Owen recalled. He had the inspiration provided by the hometown band … but he didn’t have the musical talent.
Still, Owen was finally able to share a stage with his idols in the 1990s.
Then a state senator, Owen’s own band served as the warm-up act when The Ventures played a series of concerts on the West Coast to raise money funds for local firefighter and police associations.
It took a while, but it was quite a moment “for someone with the fantasy of playing with the stars,” Owen told Bogle’s friends, family members and musical colleagues.
Owen wasn’t the only person influenced by the sound developed by Bogle and Wilson.
Wilson said he’s run into succeeding generations of rock ‘n’ rollers who credit The Ventures with getting them started.
“Tom Hamilton, the bass player with Aerosmith, told me our ‘Play Guitar With the Ventures’ album is how he learned to play. Joe Perry, their lead guitarist, said, ‘I won a Grammy, and if it wasn’t for The Ventures, it might never have happened.'”
When the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year, Wilson said he heard a similar story from a surprising artist.
“Backstage, Billy Joel said one of the first songs he learned to play was a piano version of ‘Walk, Don’t Run.'”
And Wilson said he was surprised when his daughter told him about coming across a Ventures song on a CD at Starbucks.
So Wilson walked into a local Starbucks and found the CD: “It was Elton John’s favorite Christmas songs,” he said.
Sure enough: There was The Ventures’ version of “Jingle Bell Rock.”
Did you know?
The Ventures have recorded more than 3,000 songs. It would take almost five days, without a break, to play them all.