Nokie Edwards

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Nokie Edwards
Nole "Nokie" Edwards.JPG
Edwards in Nashville at the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society, 2009
Background information
Birth nameNole Floyd Edwards
Born(1935-05-09)May 9, 1935
Lahoma, Oklahoma, U.S.
DiedMarch 12, 2018(2018-03-12) (aged 82)
Yuma, Arizona, U.S.
GenresInstrumental rock, surf rock
InstrumentsGuitar, bass guitar, Sitar
Years active1958–2017
Associated actsThe Ventures

Nole Floyd "Nokie" Edwards (May 9, 1935 – March 12, 2018) was an American musician and member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was primarily a guitarist, best known for his work with The Ventures,[1] and was known in Japan as the 'King of Guitars'. Edwards was also an actor, who appeared briefly on Deadwood, an American Western drama television series.

Early life[edit]

Edwards was born in Lahoma, Oklahoma, the son of Elbert and Nannie,[2] a Native American Cherokee.[citation needed] Edwards came from a family of accomplished musicians, so that by age five he began playing a variety of string instruments, including the steel guitar, banjo, mandolin, violin, and bass. His family relocated from Oklahoma to Puyallup, Washington.

During Edwards' late teen years he joined the United States Army Reserve. After traveling to Texas and California for training, he returned home and began playing regularly for pay in numerous country bands in the area.

Music career[edit]

In January 1958, country songwriter and guitarist Buck Owens relocated from California to Tacoma, Washington, as owner of radio station KAYE. Prior to the formation of The Buckaroos with Don Rich, Edwards played guitar with Owens in the new band he formed in the area, and also played in the house band of television station KTNT, located in the same building as KAYE. In 1960 Edwards recorded a single, "Night Run" b/w "Scratch", on Blue Horizon Records with a band called The Marksmen.

The Ventures[edit]

The Ventures are an instrumental musical quartet founded in Tacoma, Washington, in 1958. Original members included Don Wilson on rhythm guitar, Bob Bogle on lead guitar (who later became the bass player), and drummer George Babbitt, who went on to become a 4-star general in the U.S. Air Force. When Babbitt left, Howie Johnson took his place, and was later replaced by Mel Taylor. Edwards met Wilson and Bogle when they performed on KTNT. Edwards originally played bass for The Ventures, but he took over the lead guitar position from Bogle.[1] The Ventures released a series of best-selling albums through 1968, at which time Edwards left; he would occasionally reunite with the band, however.

Edwards continued to tour Japan annually with The Ventures, primarily in winter, until 2012.

Other work[edit]

In 1969 Edwards began a solo career and released several albums through 1974. His solo attempt was unsuccessful in America, and he returned to the Ventures as lead guitarist in 1972. Edwards performed with the band until 1984, when he left again to pursue a music career in Nashville, Tennessee. He played lead guitar for Lefty Frizzell, on what would become Frizzell's final recording sessions. In the late 1980s Edwards re-joined The Ventures once more for another short stint of recording and touring before returning to Nashville. Throughout the 1990s he was involved with numerous country-influenced recording projects.

Edwards performed occasionally in the United States as both a soloist and member of various bands, including AdVenture, Art Greenhaw, and Texas Western swing outfit The Light Crust Doughboys.[3] The fruitful and critically acclaimed collaboration of Edwards and artist-producer Greenhaw, resulted in a number of albums in several music genres including Edwards' two nominations for "Grammy Award for Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album of the Year", album titles 20th Century Gospel (2005) and Southern Meets Soul (2006).[4] AllMusic noted about the 20th Century Gospel album that the "former Ventures member Nokie Edwards guests on several tracks ("Ode to Joy," "The Great Speckled Bird") and his sound has never been twangier".[5]

In July 2010, Deke Dickerson announced on his Facebook page that he was currently working on a new studio album with Nokie Edwards. Dickerson and his band backed Edwards for several shows, including Deke's yearly Guitar Geek Festival held in Anaheim, California.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame[edit]

In 2008, Edwards was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with The Ventures. The award was presented by John Fogerty. The band performed their biggest hits, "Walk Don't Run" and "Hawaii Five-0", augmented on the latter by Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame musical director Paul Shaffer and his band.

Acting career[edit]

After accepting an offer to pursue an acting career, Edwards landed a role on Deadwood, an American Western drama television series. Edwards played the mysterious friend of Wild Bill Hickok and a local citizen, who serves as a bridge between the villains and heroes of the show. During production, Edwards temporarily relocated to Santa Clarita, California and lived on the set's location with his wife Judy.


Mosrite Guitars[edit]

Edwards had a long association with Mosrite. In 1963, Edwards introduced the other members of the Ventures to Semie Moseley, which led to a five-year association between Mosrite and the band. During this time, Edwards and the band used and popularized the Ventures Model Mosrite guitars. Several notable features of the Ventures Model include hot single-pole pickups, a light-touch tremolo, zero fret, a sloped-back tilt headstock, and a German carve body.

In the mid 1980s, Edwards rekindled his relationship with Moseley, and Moseley designed the Mosrite Nokie Model, an update of the Ventures Model. A custom Anniversary version of the Nokie Model came with a metallic blue finish and white accents.

Fender Signature Model Telecaster[edit]

Edwards played Fender Telecasters and Jazzmasters during the 1950s and early 1960s, before switching to Mosrite guitars. For solo projects and with the Ventures, he also toured and recorded with Telecasters during the 1980s and 1990s.

In the mid 1990s, Edwards designed the Nokie Edwards Custom Signature model Telecaster for Fender Guitars, which features gold hardware, an ebony fingerboard, sloped-back tilt headstock, zero fret, sealed tuners and Seymour Duncan humbucker pickups with split coils.

HitchHiker guitars[edit]

Edwards designed and recently sold his own custom guitar, the HitchHiker, a hybrid of the best elements of the Fender Telecaster and Mosrite guitars. The HitchHiker features a sloped-back tilt headstock, a neck-through-body with swamp ash and quilted maple, zero fret, gold control plates, Seymour Duncan humbuckers with split coils, and an ebony fingerboard. Its bridge works on a slide scale invented by Edwards. The HitchHiker can simulate an acoustic guitar and provides 15 different sound selections. The body design is essentially the original Mosrite body, which Edwards preferred. The hybrid guitars are being crafted in New River, Arizona.

Dual Blade Humbucker Pickup[edit]

Edwards designed the Nokie Edwards Dual Blade Humbucker Pickup. Manufactured and sold by Seymour Duncan, it produces tones similar to Nokie's Telecaster and HitchHiker guitar models.


Edwards died in Yuma, Arizona following complications from hip surgery, at the age of 82.[6]


  • Nokie! (1971)
  • Again! (1972)
  • King of Guitars (1973)
  • Glorious Guitarist (1974)
  • Terry vs. Nokie, with Takeshi Terauchi (1986)
  • Terry Terauchi & Nokie Edwards 2, with Takeshi Terauchi (1987)
  • Both Sides of Nokie (1988)
  • Vol. 1 - The Greatest World Hits (1989)
  • Vol. 2 - The Greatest Hits of the Ventures (1990)
  • Merry X-Mas from Nokie Edwards (1992)
  • Nokie and Friends (1994)
  • 1995 Celebration (1995)
  • Present for My Japanese Friends (1997)
  • Carvin' It Out (1999)
  • 1999 Plugged & Unplugged (1999)
  • Pickin' It Up (2000)
  • No Boundaries (2001)
  • Hitchhiker (2003)
  • Plays Gospel Music (2003)
  • Just for Jake (2003)
  • A Tribute to the Beatles (2004)
  • Hitchhiker Heals Hearts (2004)
  • Nokie Plays the 50's, 60's, and 70's (2005)
  • Crossover (2005)
  • Just Doing My Job (2006)
  • The Golden Fingers of Nokie Edwards (2007)
  • Nokie's Classics (2008)
  • Hitchin' a Ride (2009)
  • Nokie Rocks The Ventures (2012)
  • Nokie Plays Latin (2013)
  • Songs for Healing Heart (2014)
  • 80 & Pickin' with My Friends (2015)


  1. ^ a b Prown, Pete; Newquist, Harvey P. (1997). Eiche, Jon F., ed. Legends of Rock Guitar. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 22. ISBN 0-7935-4042-9.
  2. ^ "Nokie Edwards - The Buddy Holly Educational Foundation". Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  3. ^ "The Records of Nokie Edwards, Art Greenhaw, & The Light Crust Doughboys". YouTube. 15 March 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  4. ^ "Nokie Edwards' Grammy Nominations". The Recording Academy. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  5. ^ "20th Century Gospel: From Hymns to Blackwood Brothers Tribute to Christian Country - Various Artists - Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  6. ^ Lewis, Randy (March 12, 2018). "Nokie Edwards, the Ventures' influential lead guitarist, dies at 82". Los Angeles Times.

External links[edit]