Photo by Michael Ochs

Surf guitar legend Dick Dale dies at aged 81

News 18/03/2019

The King of Surf Guitar has passed away.

Richard Anthony Monsour, better known as Dick Dale passed away last Saturday night, confirmed by his live bassist, Sam Bolle.

Dale has been credited as one of the first few electric guitar players who did not employ Western scales in his playing. Instead, his distinctive signature sound is inspired by Gene Krupa's jungle drum rhythms and many other indigenous peoples' dance rhythms.

He was among the first few to use a reverb pedal which made the electric guitar sound 'wet' which has now become a standard of surf rock. Rapid alternative picking is also his signature style of playing the guitar.

Dale played an important role in the development of the Fender Stratocaster guitar. In 2011, he told Miami New Times that he was the test pilot for Leo Fender. “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.”

His famed track, 'Misirlou' has been sampled by pop/hip hop group, Black Eyed Peas in their song, 'Pump It' (2006), among five other songs. Dale had transformed a Greek folk song into this sped-up, one string riff that became a national sensation when he performed it on the 'Ed Sullivan Show' in '62. Quentin Tarantino used the same song for the opening track to his 1994 movie, 'Pulp Fiction'.

Once, Tarantino told Rolling Stone, "Having Misirlou as your opening credit, it’s just so intense. It just says you’re watching an epic, you’re watching a big, ol’ movie ... It just throws down a gauntlet that the movie now has to live up to."

In 2015, Dale told Billboard magazine that he had health insurance to help cover bills for his medical conditions, including diabetes, post-cancer treatments and other debilitating diseases.