We have recently become aware that there are a number of rumors circulating on the internet, via chat rooms and fan groups, that are factually incorrect, inaccurate and confusing. Don has asked me to post this item in order to clarify and correct the rumors and gossip that are being passed around.
First of all, Don does not have muscular dystrophy. Don, like the rest of us who are getting older (as opposed to the alternative, which is not what any of us wants), has had some discomfort over the past few years and sought medical advice. At one point, the diagnosis was "limb girdle muscular dystrophy"; another doctor diagnosed a form of "myositis". Subsequent tests ruled out both so Don's condition is undetermined and, as I already said, most of us suffer from aches and pains as we get older. Also, Don has no intention of retiring at this point, in spite of what the rumor mill states and, as the only surviving member of the creators of the group (himself and Bob Bogle), he retains control of decision-making in all aspects.
With regard to personnel in the Ventures' line-up, it is a well-known fact that, over the 50 plus years of the group's career, there have been multiple configurations both on stage and in the studio, and also many guest artists have joined the group at one time or another. Currently, the group members all live in different parts of the U.S., and often have other projects on which they work apart from their Ventures-related touring and/or recording. Due to that fact, there will continue to be various slightly different versions of the group line-up depending on the situation, location and a host of other factors. Later this month, at the official award ceremony in Seattle for the decoration from the Japanese Government, Don, Leon, Bob Spalding and Nokie will attend: Gerry will receive his award here in Los Angeles, because he is working on a documentary about his life and cannot be in Seattle that day. Next month, the normal "Summer Japan" group (i.e. Don, Gerry, Leon and Bob) will leave for the tour due to start in mid-July.
Earlier this year, when the group went into the studio to record the 6 new tracks for the up-coming "In My Life" (Ventures Play Beatles) CD, Bob's son, Ian Spalding, played bass on the session as well as some keyboards. This is not the first time that Ian has worked on recordings with The Ventures, as he participated in last year's session (The Ventures Play Kayama Yuzo), and is listed in the credits on that album, along with the other "guest" musicians - John Durrill and Joe Barile - both former members of The Ventures at different times in the past. While we were in the studio at that time, the group decided to take advantage of the fact that there is an excellent soundstage at the facility in order to make a short current promo video for our booking agency, Paradise Artists: obviously, it features the players who were at the recording session on that day.
As a point of interest, there are, in fact, several other members of The Ventures' extended family that are "Ventures in waiting", to coin a phrase, because - at some time in the future - who knows? - they might end up working with the group. Leon's brother, Michael Taylor plays bass (like his uncle Larry Taylor - who also collaborated with The Ventures in the early 1970s), Mel's grandson, Christian Pursley, plays guitar (his grandmother on his father's side was Mary Kay of the Mary Kay Trio so music is definitely in his bloodlines), Gerry's son Kane is a drummer.
So, when it comes to rumors, it is usually best to take them with a grain of salt. You can rest assured that The Ventures will continue to be true to their sound, and to bring good music to both live audiences and those who purchase CDs, DVDs, and downloads.