The music world lost another pioneer, guys.
Only a couple months shy of 82, Dick Dale has left us. The surf guitar king was felled by heart failure. He was still touring and still shredding on stage like no one else. His innovative guitar technique changed the world of surf rock forever. By taking Middle Eastern melodies, voicing them on reverb-drenched guitar, he defined the genre.
Dick Dale, with his signature white braid falling down the middle of his back and tattered headband, never came short of energy on stage, even in the 2000s. When I saw him in 2013, I was 21 and he was already 76. Though the height of his career was way before my time, I was still starstruck. His love for the music and the fans were obvious and he played his guitar like the years of time had never hit him.
He stole the show of every beach-themed film from the ‘60s. Films like Beach Party and Muscle Beach Party might seem over-the-top to today’s audiences, but back in the day they showed the world how to have a dance party. He performed his hit songs “Secret Surfin’ Spot” and “Surfin’ and Swingin'” in Beach Party and it brought Dale’s whirlwind style of surf rock to the forefront forever.
While the world left surf movies behind in the ‘60s, Dale’s music remained a staple of cutting edge cinema, with “Miserlou” playing over the opening credits of Pulp Fiction
In 2008, Dale was diagnosed with a recurrence of rectal cancer and had to endure multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. After fighting it off he went on tour in 2009 to pay off the medical bills and toured ever since. He even had several shows booked for this coming May.
Those lucky enough to catch this king’s live know that they’ll never experience anything like Dick Dale again. His talent hits you like a crashing wave. His music will live on forever and constantly be an inspiration to guitar players of surf rock or punk rock. Ride that wave easy, Dick.