Junior Brown: Surf Medley (Live)

Another great surf tune…

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The majority of the riff played by Junior is The Ventures classic Walk Don’t Run.

An interesting factoid about this song is, according to legend, without surf music and Walk Don’t Run there would be no Van Halen.

The Van Halens arrived in Southern California in late 1962 almost in perfect sync with the explosion of surf music from the very place the art form emanated. Less than a year later, “Wipe Out” went to #2 on the record charts, and was obviously highly revered by both Edward and Alex. Ed himself was so intent on learning “Wipe Out” that it drove him to ask his parents Jan and Eugenia for a drum set. This set forth in motion what is likely the most famous lore in Van Halen history: The Great Instrument Switch.


The very first song Edward learned to play on electric guitar was “Walk Don’t Run” by The Ventures. The song is one of the most distinct surf-music chord progressions of all time. However, Ed had only mastered the three-finger 5th chord at the time. In a 1998 Japanese television interview, Edward said, “[The] very first thing I learned—I played it for hours—and I didn’t have an amp—so I would put my guitar on the table—so it would be louder. So it would resonate on the table. So, the first thing I learned was . . . [Ed demonstrated the descending bar-chord sequence, E-D-C-B, for “Walk Don’t Run”] I would just play those four chords for hours. I never learned [demonstrated the very distinctive single-note riff part of the song]. I never learned that! Just—[plays E-D-C-B repeatedly again and laughs].”


Later he became a fan of Southern California surf rock, particularly guitar instrumentals like ‘Pipeline’ by the Chantays, and ‘Wipe Out’ by the Surfaris. ‘Walk Don’t Run’, the Venture’s surf instrumental in 1963, was the first song he learned on guitar. The progressive opening chords of the guitar got under his skin so much that he would spend days on end – before he knew how to do anything else – playing the descending chord run. The influence of surf guitar and it’s continuous, often dramatic sounding lead lines on Eddie’s playing is not usually remarked upon, but is evident in a number of Van Halen songs that don’t conform to the blues derived structures of much rock guitar playing. The clearest example of this is perhaps ‘Loss of Control’ (1980) which – instrumentally, at least – might be the soundtrack to surfers breaking on the waves and crashing amid the spindrift. Other songs that, instrumentally, would fit within the surf rock genre include ‘Romeo Delight’ (1980) sinners Swing!’ (1981) and Top Jimmy (1983).

Van Halen and surf music…