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.
Dick Dale Facts
|May 4, 1937 (86)
|Babies and Fools
|Favor, Affection, Malice or Ill-Will
|Melvin Purvis- G-Man
|Hollywood's Magical Island
|Now I'm God