During the early 60’s, The Ventures were one of the most popular bands in the USA. But their American success was soon overshadowed by the British Invasion. They went from being huge hitmakers to yesterday’s papers practically overnight. So they went to Japan where, for awhile, they were as big as The Beatles. The Japanese nicknamed the group ‘The Beloved Invaders’ and called their sound ‘teke teke’ music. They were the Godzillas of the surf guitar.
I have several theories as to why The Ventures were big in Japan, most of them having to do with the sound of Mosrite guitars, koto music, Zen and radioactive sea-dwelling monsters.
Don Wilson who formed The Ventures with Bob Bogle in 1958 recalls touring Japan:
We played in downtown Tokyo, in a big place that holds 3,500 people. They were lined up around the block, about five abreast. We played three shows, one after the other. People were still trying to get in. We played in Yokohama and Osaka, the big cities. Had I known we were that popular, I would’ve asked for more money!
Earlier this year The Ventures received the illustrious Order Of The Rising Sun Award from the Japanese government honoring their contribution to Japan’s musical culture.
Here’s footage from The Beloved Invaders documenting The Ventures first tour of Japan. After suffering through decrepit looking bootlegs of this film, it was a thrill to come upon some pristine looking footage. And the sound is awesome.