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Surfer Guitar Pioneer Dick Dale Dies at 81

by
  • Arden is a Senior Country Music Journalist for Country Thang Daily, specializing in classic hits and contemporary chart-toppers.
  • Prior to joining Country Thang Daily, Arden wrote for Billboard and People magazine, covering country music legends and emerging artists.
  • Arden holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Tennessee, with a minor in Music Studies.

Dick Dale, the surf guitar king who’s known for keeping it rolling has died at age 81. He had recently been in treatment for cancer, from which he had previously recovered twice. He died on Saturday night, according to The Guardian

Dick Dale, Dale
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Richard Drew/AP/REX/Shutterstock/Variety

His longtime bassist, Sam Bolle, has confirmed the news. No cause of death was immediately reported.

Dale is known for creating a style of music heavily associated with surf culture, often referred to as surf rock. His unique musical vibe and staccato technique has left an impression among the music industry. 

Dick Dale’s Influence and Legacy

Dick Dale, Dale
Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images/The Guardian

Dale is best known for his 1962 hit “Misilou.” In history, it is a traditional song in Eastern Mediterranean regions, but Dale brought it to the Western pop culture light. The Middle Eastern and Mexican influences added a new layer of flavor to the 1950’s instrumental rock that he was pioneering.

Several other versions have since been recorded, such as from the Beach Boys, the Ventures, Consider the Source, and the Trashmen, as well as international orchestral easy listening versions.

It gained most of its notoriety when it was prominently featured in Quentin Tarantino’s cult hit “Pulp Fiction.”

Listen to the song here!

Dale has self-released multiple records with his band the Deltones, and it paved the way for countless of others who followed in the footsteps of the Southern California surfer way. 

Dale was a close friend of Leo Fender, the inventor of the Stratocaster – the instrument that helped revolutionize rock guitar. Together, they invented the first 100-watt amplifier to handle the input that Dale was producing with his music. 

Dick Dale, Dale
via Richard Drew/ The Associated Press/ The Know

Guitar Player magazine dubbed Dale as not only the King of Surf Guitar but also the father of heavy metal. And, even to his death, he had been one of the most glaring omissions from the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame. 

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