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Dick Dale

Dick Dale (born Richard Monsour on May 4, 1937) was one of the pioneers in surf rock, one of the most influential musicians of the early 1960s. His guitar-playing techniques influenced future guitarists as varied as Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen. Dick was friends with Leo Fender. Dick pushed the Fender Stratocaster's amplifer to it's limits. Dick would play so fast the amplifier would catch on fire. Leo Fender constantly reengineer the amplifer to make it withstand Dick's playing. Dick is also the pioneer of guitar reverb. Leo actually built reverb into a mircophone so Dick's singing voice would sound better in concert. Dick experimented with the reverb by bringing the microphone down to the sound of the guitar. Due to his skilfull hard guitar playing some consider Dick Dale the father of heavy metal.

He was born in Boston to a Lebanese father and a Polish mother, and soon learned to play the drums, ukulele and finally, guitar. Among his early musical influences was his uncle, an oud player performing belly dance music - for example, Dale describes the rhythm on his song Misirlou as taken directly from a belly dance piece. In 1954, he moved to southern California and began performing. He also began surfing, and soon began developing the sound that eventually became surf rock.

With his backing band, The Del-Tones, Dale's live performances became huge local draws. 1961's Let's Go Trippin' is widely regarded as the first surf rock song. This was followed by more locally-released songs, including Jungle Fever and Surf Beat. His first full-length album was Surfer's Choice (1962 in music). The album was picked up by Capitol Records and distributed nationally, and Dale soon began appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show and in films. His second album was named after his performing nickname, King of the Surf Guitar.

Though surf rock became the national sound in the U.S. briefly, the British Invasion began to overtake the American charts in 1964. Though he continued performing live, Dale was soon set back by rectal cancer. He recovered, though, and retired from music for a time. In 1979, he almost lost a leg after being injured while swimming; a pollution-related infection made the mild injury much worse. As a result, Dale became an environmental activist and soon began performing again throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He tried to launch a comeback in 1986 and was nominated for a Grammy, and the use of Misirlou in a Quentin Tarantino film, Pulp Fiction, effectively launched a comeback within a small but devoted audience. He has released several albums since.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2004.

Dick Dale Facts

Birth NameRichard Monsour
BirthdayMay 4, 1937 (86)

Selected Filmography

Deliver Us
Babies and Fools
Favor, Affection, Malice or Ill-Will
Melvin Purvis- G-Man
Ep 204
Hollywood's Magical Island
Now I'm God
Girl Dishonored
Santa Bites
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