The Ventures

Not the first but definitely the most popular rock instrumental combo, the Ventures scored several hit singles during the 1960s -- most notably "Walk-Don't Run" and "Hawaii Five-O" -- but made their name in the growing album market, covering hits of the day and organizing thematically linked LPs. Almost 40 Ventures' albums charted, and 17 hit the Top 40. And though the group's popularity in America virtually disappeared by the 1970s, their enormous contribution to pop culture was far from over; the Ventures soon became one of the most popular world-wide groups, with dozens of albums recorded especially for the Japanese and European markets. They toured continually throughout the 1970s and '80s -- influencing Japanese pop music of the time more than they had American music during the '60s.