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George T. Babbitt Interview- Original Drummer of The Ventures

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Vinyl Vibes

Jack Hodgins speaks with the people behind the music you love.
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In this episode of Vinyl Vibes, Jack is joined by George T. Babbitt, the original drummer of The Ventures. George grew up amongst '50s rock and roll like that of the Everly Brothers. In 1958 Don Wilson and Bob Bogle formed the Versatones. They needed a drummer and Don's sister recommended her neighbour, the then 17 year old George Babbitt. It was 1959 by this stage, and George would join as the band's first ever drummer. The group would soon call themselves The Ventures. George would play live with the group throughout the year playing songs such as "Apache" and "Perfidia". It was while George was in the group, The Ventures would perform their version of "Walk Don't Run". One Sunday evening in 1959, the group would record their first single "The Real McCoy" on the A-side and "Cookies and Coke" on the B-side. Due to George being too young to play clubs, soon after recording the single, George left The Ventures early 1960.

A few months later in June 1960, The Ventures would release "Walk Don't Run" and it would go number 2 in the US. Along with The Shadows in the UK, they would begin the instrumental music craze of the early '60s, inspiring a generation of musicians. George was still in high school when all this happened, and gave up music after leaving The Ventures. He went on to join the United States Airforce in 1965, and would have a successful career, eventually becoming a general. He would reunite with The Ventures live on stage in 1998 for a performance of "Walk Don't Run" with the United States Air Force Band. Today George is retired, but still plays on his electric drum kit for fun. 

Jack phoned George to discuss his early musical beginnings, the impact rock and roll had on him, being a teenager during the rock and roll era, how he came to play the drums, how he came to join The Ventures, the songs he played with The Ventures, the live gigs he played with them during 1959, the development of "Walk Don't Run", how The Ventures came to find their name, the recording of the group's first single, why he left the group, his work with the air force, and his 1998 reunion with The Ventures. 

"I was introduced to them by Don's sister, Jackie. She lived next door to my parents which, of course, at the time is where I lived too. Bob and Don had gotten the idea that they wanted to be professional musicians and they wanted to be doing that soon, no more waiting around...They asked me - Jackie recommend the kid next door - so I took my drums over to Jackie's, and Don and Bob got their six-string guitars out - there was no bass at that point - and we played for a while, and they asked me to play."  - George Babbitt on this episode of Vinyl Vibes talking about joining The Ventures.

Episode Hosted and Produced by Jack Hodgins

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Vinyl Vibes

Jack Hodgens talks to the people who created the music that is the foundation of today's music.
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