Walk, Don't Run (song)

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"Walk, Don't Run"
Single by The Ventures
from the album Walk, Don't Run
B-side "Home" (Blue Horizon & first Dolton pressings, British pressing)
"The McCoy" (later Dolton pressings)
Released June 1960
Genre Rock, surf rock
Length 2:00
Label Blue Horizon (USA)
Dolton (USA), Reo (Canada), Top Rank (UK)
Writer(s) Johnny Smith
The Ventures singles chronology
"The Twomp"
"Walk—Don't Run"

"Walk, Don't Run" is an instrumental composition written and first recorded by jazz guitarist Johnny Smith in 1954.[1] The tune is essentially a contrafact of the chord changes to the standard "Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise".[2]

After hearing a Chet Atkins recording of "Walk Don't Run", the Tacoma-based instrumental rock band the Ventures released their version of the tune as a single in spring 1960 on Dolton Records. This version is often regarded as one of the first surf songs to make the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at #2 and reaching #3 on the Cash Box magazine chart for five weeks in August and September 1960.[3] The Dolton release of this record had two backing sides, the first release (Dolton 25) had "Home", and after initial sales were so great (to gain royalties), the B side was replaced with a Bogle-Wilson original composition, "The McCoy" (Dolton 25-X).

This single, their first national release, vaulted the Ventures' career. The song was recorded before the band officially had a drummer. The Ventures' website lists "the drummer on Walk, Don't Run as Skip Moore, not Howie Johnson as many assume. Skip was given the choice of $25 or 25% of the money the record would make for playing on the session. He took the $25".[citation needed] Bob Bogle played the lead guitar part on this first Ventures recording of the song. The band would later rerecord the song in 1964 (see below), and would become the first band to score two top ten hits with two versions of the same song.

In the UK, the tune was covered by the John Barry Seven, whose version, while only peaking at #11 on the Record Retailer chart, compared to the Ventures' #8, outcharted them by reaching the Top 10 on other UK charts, such as that of the NME.

In July 2003, the song was recorded by Ventures guitarist Nokie Edwards and the Light Crust Doughboys for the album Guitars Over Texas. This version is known for its jazz-inflected second verse and the use of keyboards in place of rhythm guitar.[4]

The song follows the Andalusian cadence.

Critical reception[edit]

Rolling Stone magazine rated the Ventures' version of "Walk, Don't Run" as number 82 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time.

Walk, Don't Run '64[edit]

"Walk, Don't Run '64"
Single by The Ventures
B-side "The Cruel Sea"
Released 1964
Label Dolton (USA)
The Ventures singles chronology
"Walk, Don't Run '64"

"Walk, Don't Run '64" is an updated Ventures recording that features a guitar style more similar to that of "Misirlou", and is notable for starting with a "fade-in" (as opposed to many songs of the era that ended with a "fade out"). It reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #9 on the Cash Box magazine chart in 1964.[citation needed]

The B-side, "The Cruel Sea", was a version of the Dakotas' 1963 single. This recording featured Nokie Edwards playing the lead guitar part.

The recording was used in 2000 for the dancing scene in the Australian movie The Goddess of 1967 by Clara Law.

Chet Atkins[edit]

Chet Atkins recorded a popular rendition of the song that preceded the Ventures' hit by three years. He played his arrangement fingerstyle, including the bass notes A,G,F and E which later became the basis for the Ventures' arrangement. Other cover versions include those by the Shadows, Agent Orange, Zapatón, Steve Howe, Glen Campbell, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Tommy Leonetti and the Penguin Cafe Orchestra.

Selected recorded versions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stringham, Bart (November 2005). "The Song That Launched A Thousand Ships (…filled with guitar players)". Just Jazz Guitar (45): 42. Retrieved 2013-11-14. 
  2. ^ Campbell, Bob (March 15, 2001). "Guitar Legend Johnny Smith Alive and Well in Colorado Springs". Colorado Springs Independent (Colorado Springs, Colorado). Retrieved May 2, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Cash Box Top Singles - 1960". Cashbox. Retrieved 2014-10-15. 
  4. ^ a b "Art Greenhaw Music CD's & Cassettes". The Connextion. Retrieved 2014-10-15. 
  5. ^ "Ljubičice - Ljubičice&Co. - Track 04 Troboj". YouTube. 14 January 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-27.