"Walk, Don't Run" is an instrumental composition written and first recorded by jazz guitarist Johnny Smith in 1954. The tune is essentially a contrafact of the chord changes to the standard "Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise".
The Tacoma-based instrumental rock band The Ventures released their version of the tune as a surf rock single in spring 1960 on Dolton Records, which quickly became a hit. 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 to reach the Top 10 on other UK charts, such as that of the NME. 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 (The Ventures) original composition, "The McCoy" (Dolton 25-X).
The Ventures' version is believed to be one of the first surfing 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.
The band's original drummer, George T. Babbitt, Jr., who later retired as a four-star Air Force general, left the band before "Walk, Don't Run" was released. 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".
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.
The song follows the Andalusian cadence.
Rolling Stone magazine rated "Walk, Don't Run" number 82 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time.
|"Walk, Don't Run '64"|
|Single by The Ventures|
|B-side||"The Cruel Sea"|
|The Ventures singles chronology|
"Walk, Don't Run '64" was an updated Ventures recording of their 1960 hit "Walk, Don't Run", written by Johnny Smith. The new recording 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"). The song reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #9 on theCash Box magazine chart in 1964.
Chet Atkins recorded a popular rendition of the song that preceded the Ventures' hit by three years. 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.
- 1955: Johnny Smith
- 1957: Chet Atkins
- 1960: The Ventures
- 1960: The John Barry Seven (featuring Vic Flick on guitar)
- 1964: Die Sputniks
- 1964: Tommy Leonetti
- 1965: Glen Campbell
- 1965: Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass
- 1972: Pink Fairies
- 1973: Sha Na Na
- 1977: The Shadows
- 1981: The Penguin Cafe Orchestra
- 1993: California Guitar Trio
- 1998: Steve Howe
- 1999: Johnny A.
- 2003: Nokie Edwards and the Light Crust Doughboys
- 2003: JFA (Jodie Foster's Army)
- 2004: Terrafolk (as a medley featuring also "Music for a Found Harmonium")
- 2013: Ljubicice http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGGmYRfrbF8