Dick Dale, Surf Guitar Legend, Dead At 81
Legendary surf rock guitarist Dick Dale has passed away at the age of 81. Though a cause of death has not been announced, Dale famously suffered from several health problems, including kidney stones and rectal cancer.
Born Richard Anthony Monsour in Boston, Massachusetts, to Lebanese and Polish-Belarusan parents, Dick started playing piano when he was nine. He then moved to trumpet, then ukelele (in an attempt to mimic Hank Williams), before finally moving to guitar. His Lebanese descent gave him a keen interest in Arabic music, which he incorporated into his rock playing, adding non-Western scales to his music that would help define surf rock.
If there is any song Dick will be remembered for, it is his high-octane attitude-driven rendition of the Greek folk song Misirlou, made famous by Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, and later the Black-Eyed Peas. That said, diehard fans of Dick’s music will point to Let’s Go Trippin’, arguably the first surf rock song ever, as his greatest contribution to the genre.
Dick’s guitar-playing was also pivotal in the creation of hard rock and heavy metal. His grinding guitar style, loyalty to the Fender Stratocaster, and habit of playing amps until they died, inspired generations of insane instrumentalists for decades to come.
Dale once told the Miami New Times, “Everything that came out of Leo Fender’s head, I was his test pilot. He used to say, ‘When it can withstand the barrage of punishment from Dick Dale, then it is fit for the human consumption.’ So I blew up over 50 amplifiers. And that’s why they call me the Father of Heavy Metal. Because I use 60-gauge strings and I make people’s ears bleed.”
Everyone at Kerrang! sends their hearts out to Dick’s family, friends, bandmates, and loved ones during this difficult time.
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