Nokie Edwards

Former Ventures Lead Guitarist

Listen to Nokie Edwards on Walk Don't Run, Lolita Ya-Ya, Diamond Head.

Born in Lahoma, Oklahoma, Nole "Nokie" Edwards picked up his first guitar at age five and by the time he was eleven he could play any instrument that had a string on it. He made his professional debut playing country music on an Idaho radio station at twelve and shortly thereafter his family moved to Washington state, where he became a regular teenage feature at fairs and community festivals. By the time he was seventeen, he'd struck out on his own and was ruling the Oregon dance hall circuit.

After a stint in the armed forces, Edwards was recruited by Bakersfield country legend Buck Owens in 1957, polishing his finger-picking chops by playing behind the Grand Ole Opry Road Shows when they'd roll through the Northwest. In 1959 he hooked up with fellow axe men Don Wilson and Bob Bogle and formed the Ventures, hitting with a rearrangement of Chet Atkins' jazz guitar classic "Walk, Don't Run." Signed to Dolton Records, Nokie led the way to the Ventures hit-studded career by playing the inimitable leads on such classics as "Hawaii 5-0," "2000 Pound Bee," "Yellow Jacket," "Driving Guitars," "Surf Rider," "Pedal Pusher," "Wipe Out," "Slaughter On Tenth Avenue" and more others than you can shake a Mosrite Ventures Model guitar at.

The group's popularity in Japan remains unprecedented for an American band, just as it was in 1965 when they landed at Tokyo Airport only to be personally greeted by a welcome party of an estimated 10,000 rabid fans. Edwards' popularity in the East has never ceased and he still tours there twice a year, both with the Ventures and on his own.

Although one of rock 'n' roll guitar's premiere instrumental architects with 33 hit Ventures albums to his credit, country music, Edwards' original love, still holds a special place in his heart and over the years he's played with Lefty Frizzell, Little Jimmy Dickens and the Light Crust Doughboys as well as rock 'n' roll peers like the Fabulous Wailers, Mitch Ryder, Albert Lee and many more. And the accolades continue to roll in: last year he received a certificate of commendation from the Foreign Minister of Japan for "distinguished achievements in promoting exchanges between Japan and the United States upon the 150th anniversary of the Japan-U.S. relationship." A true rock 'n' roll ambassador indeed.

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