In 2008, The Ventures joined the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame based in Cleveland, Ohio. It was a very long journey to get there with a lot of help from their friends. This story tells a little bit about how it all happened.
Up to this time, Jimi Hendrix was the only Hall of Fame member from the Northwest. Now, there was a big push to have The Ventures join Jimi. A big part of the eventual success was a giant grass roots push that started in the Northwest and spread across the country.
And so it happened on Christmas of 2004, The Venture’s Don Wilson called Seattle’s radio personality, Mark Christopher, on the request line to
talk about The Venture’s Christmas CD and spread a little Christmas joy. At the time, Mark was mid-day and morning personality at KBSG FM, the oldies station in Seattle.
Mark asked Don “What’s the biggest thing the Ventures haven’t achieved so far?” Don replied “We’re not in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.” Mark and Don both knew that there needed to be a match to light a fire in the efforts to get The Ventures into the Hall of Fame. They discussed various ways this might
happen and Mark was left alone for a while to pilot any special efforts.
Strategies were laid out so that
all interested parties would have specific duties that would eventually get The Ventures into the Hall of Fame. It was definitely going to take a lot of teamwork.
Now, the first thing you might ask is why the The Ventures weren’t already in the Hall of Fame ? Almost everybody knows who the Ventures are. Mark Christopher had recent conversations on and off the air with musicians like Jeff “Skunk Baxter” of Steely Dan stating how much credit they gave The Ventures.
Ray Davies of the Kinks , and Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater
and Roger Fischer of Heart all acknowledge how much they were influenced by The Ventures. The
other musicians influenced by The Ventures are, of course, countless.
So, in the spring of 2005, KBSG Radio created a big Northwest rock and roll Beach Party concert at the Showbox sodo area theater. We trucked in a lot of sand, Palm trees and all the rest and the concert sold out and was extremely successful. We wanted to make as much noise as possible in supporting
The Ventures nomination to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Roger Fischer played, The Wailers, Washington state’s lieutenant governor, Olympia’s The Fleetwoods were represented and naturally The Ventures. It was an incredible show and the story was covered nationally.
Keep in mind, in The Ventures heyday, they appeared on television shows like American Bandstand, Hullabaloo, and in movies. They were hugely popular in Japan. However, they never made it on the Ed Sullivan Show.
And, so finally, The Ventures get nominated to the Rock n Roll of Fame, Christmas 2007.
The politicking and PR that has to be done to get any band into the Hall of Fame is immense. There are 200 people worldwide that end up voting on Hall of Fame inductees. They must be persuaded to cast the right number of votes to get a group like The Ventures in.
But, finally it happened in January of 2008, The Ventures along with Madonna, The Dave Clark Five, and
Leonard Cohen were all put into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame that year. Of course , all the official voting
activities involved happened in Cleveland, Ohio.
MTV presented the inductee show March of 2008 at the Waldorf Hotel. And, with the Ventures on stage, the first person they thanked in all the efforts to get them into the Hall of Fame was Seattle’s own, Mark Christopher. But back in the Puget Sound area,
The Ventures went on stage at The Liberty Theater in Puyallup, Washington, actually one of the first
places they ever played. John Fogerty was there to do the official Northwest presentation to Don Wilson, rhythm and lead guitar, and Nokie Edwards, famed lead guitarist, plus Mel Taylor’s son , Leon Taylor. Mel Taylor was the original drummer.
Naturally, there was a lot of excitement in the Pacific Northwest. Finally, another one of their favorite music bands made it into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. It never would have occurred without the
incredible extra effort put into making sure this happened. Some of the most effective campaigning was done on the grass roots level coming right from the Northwest and spreading throughout the country, directly to the 200 voters that put The Ventures into the Hall of Fame.
Thank you Mark Christopher, KBSG FM and everyone else that helped make this happen.