Back in 1995, only a few months after Amplify’s Del Breckenfeld had started working at Fender at that time, Del’s boss informed him that to celebrate Fender’s 50th Anniversary, the company was planning on a major concert event at the January 1996 NAMM Show to raise money for Bonnie Raitt’s music education program for girls through the Boys & Girls Clubs of America – and Del was responsible for the entertainment! Not too tall of an order (!?!) for the new guy but Bonnie had already graciously agreed to perform, which made it somewhat easier to invite other artists like Richie Sambora, The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Marty Stuart.
Hosted by Del’s Chicago bud Steven Seagal, they had a great lineup but needed an opening act. Del’s colleague Joe Carducci suggested the original Ventures as he was overseeing the release of their signature line of Fender guitars to coincide with the 50th. Del jumped at the opportunity to work with his boyhood idols and the best selling instrumental band in history! Some of Del’s cohorts thought they might be a little old to open for such a stellar lineup, but after meeting with drummer Mel Taylor, Del assured them the band was ready to Rock – and boy did they – blowing the doors off the place in front a sold out crowd!
Every guitar player there talked about learning The Venture’s classics when they first started on guitar. And for this show, everyone was so excited to also have Nokie Edwards join Don Wilson, Bob Bogle and Mel to perform as the original line-up on so many classics including “Walk Don’t Run.”
We were sad to hear about Nokie’s passing at age 82 yesterday due to complications from surgery, leaving Don Wilson as the only living member of the original band. Del felt blessed to have worked with this amazing band and to have been a part of this very special event. You can read about the event, which raised over $160,000.00, in their autobiography “Walk Don’t Run” where they recall that even Bonnie was so jazzed to meet them backstage and couldn’t wait to tell them how much they influenced her guitar playing!
Thanks, Nokie, for the great influence you have been on so many and the years of wonderful music and memories. RIP