Don Wilson can still draw a crowd, if the packed room at the March 29 meeting of the Pierce County Council is any indication.
The larger-than-normal turnout was in honor of Wilson, co-founder and rhythm guitarist of the Tacoma-born band The Ventures. He died in January of natural causes. He was 88.
The band’s hits included “Walk, Don’t Run” and the theme song from “Hawaii Five-O.” The Ventures were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.
The council passed a proclamation to honor “the legacy of Donald Lee Wilson for his love for music and the accomplishments of the world’s all-time No. 1-selling rock instrumental group, The Ventures.”
The proceedings included a number of guest speakers, video presentations from accomplished and well-known musicians and an in-person appearance from the region’s consul general of Japan, Hisao Inagaki.
Wilson’s son, Tim, appreciated his dad being recognized in his hometown.
“I want to thank everyone for coming,” he said. “This means a lot to me, and it would have meant a lot to dad and my family. And I want to thank the council … for really doing a great job of really putting this together.
“Dad was the last surviving and original member of the band, and it’s been a little tough,” Tim Wilson added. “It hasn’t been that long, but we’re very proud of what is being done here today and what will be done in the future, and all that The Ventures have accomplished, and all that dad has done is unbelievable and amazing.”
In the 1960s and early 1970s, 38 of the band's albums charted in the United States.
The Ventures had 14 singles in the Billboard Hot 100. With more than 100 million records sold, the Ventures are the best-selling instrumental band of all time, as noted in the proclamation.
Numerous lineup changes, except for Wilson, couldn’t stop the band from performing. Wilson didn’t miss a tour up until his retirement in 2015.
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