Cherokee Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, Ventures Guitarist Nokie Edwards Has Died

Nokie Edwards website Nole Floyd "Nokie" Edwards, Cherokee, the lead guitarist for ‘The Ventures,’ passed away on March 12th, due to complications from hip surgery.

Vincent Schilling

Cherokee Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, Ventures Guitarist Nokie Edwards Has Died At 82

Nole Floyd "Nokie" Edwards was Cherokee, a member of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and lead guitarist for The Ventures, was known for ‘Wipe Out’ and Hawaii Five-O theme song

Nole Floyd ‘Nokie’ Edwards, Cherokee, the lead guitarist for over six decades for the iconic and wildly successful instrumental ‘surf-style’ rock and roll group ‘The Ventures,’ which known for such musical hits as ‘Pipeline,’ ‘Wipe Out,’ and the Hawaii Five-O theme song, has died at age 82. Nokie Edwards passed away on March 12th, due to complications from hip surgery.

Band members on the Ventures website posted an announcement on Monday:

“We have been advised this morning that Nokie Edwards passed away today after several months battling an infection after hip surgery this past December. The Ventures family feels this loss very deeply: Nokie has been part of the Ventures’ history for almost 6 decades and helped to shape the early Ventures’ sound and the success of their career. He was an innovator and one of the greats on guitar, so much so that he influenced many young players over the course of his career… Our thoughts and prayers go out to Nokie’s wife, Judy, and all family members, friends and fans. His music will live on.”

In the six decades he has played music, Edwards was a key figure in the success of The Ventures, a group that charted more than three dozen albums during the ’60s and ’70s. Edwards and his band-mates garnered 14 hit singles as well. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.

Nokie Edwards with Ventures bandmates Bob Bogle, Don Wilson and Howie Jonson in an early-60s publicity photo.

Nole Floyd “Nokie” Edwards was born May 9, 1935 in Lahoma, Oklahoma, as one of 12 children of Elbert and Nannie Edwards. Nannie Edwards was Cherokee. The family picked for work and traveled by horse-drawn wagon near Seattle.

The Edwards’ family were well-regarded musicians, and at age 5, Nokie Edwards was learning to play guitar, mandolin, banjo, steel guitar, violin and bass.

Later in life, Edwards became proficient on the Mosrite guitar, having moved on from the Fender Telecaster. His musical influence was so strong in the surf-rock genre, many up-and-coming musicians insisted on the Mosrite in their commitment to remain loyal to Edward’s style of music.

Edwards was as passionate about musical instruments as he was about music. He worked with several companies to create the best products possible.

“He used to help companies like Fender, Roland and Carvin Audio with their instruments and equipment,” his wife, Judy Edwards, said to the Los Angeles Times. “They’d ask him to check out their instruments and gear, and he’d tell them what they could do to make them better.”

In the years that followed, the Ventures continued to travel the world and found considerable success in Japan.

At age 69, Edwards became a Grammy Award nominee for the 2004 album 20th Century Gospel with the Light Crust Doughboys, and again in 2005 for Southern Meets Soul. He also acted in the western TV series “Deadwood.”

In 2012, Edwards had heart surgery in Japan, and reached out to Indian country with a plea to help him in a time of need. He recovered, but in 2018, eventually passed away from complications after hip surgery.

A few years before he died, Nokie Edwards was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. Edwards gifted the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame a guitar signed by the Ventures. During the ceremony, a representative of the Arkansas State Police made Nokie Edwards an honorary member of the force.

“I didn’t expect that. I thought they was gonna put the cuffs on me,” Edwards joked in an interview with NewsOK, he then offered advice for aspiring musicians: “Be dedicated, practice a lot and play with somebody better than you.”

Edwards died at a hospital near his home in Yuma, Ariz., according to his close friend Deke Dickerson, a fellow guitarist.For more information about the career of Nokie Edwards visit his website.

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