Tales of Rock – SPECIAL REPORT – Dick Dale, Surf Guitar Legend, Dead At 81

Dick Dale, the surf rock pioneer who took reverb to new levels, died on Saturday night. He was 81. The guitarist’s health had declined over the past 20 years due to a number of illnesses, including diabetes, kidney disease and rectal cancer. The news was confirmed to NPR by Dusty Watson, a drummer who worked and toured with Dale between 1995 and 2006, who says he spoke with Dale’s wife, Lana Dale. No cause was given.

Dale, born Richard Anthony Monsour in 1937, changed the sound of rock and roll in the early 1960s when he upped the reverb on his guitar and applied the Arabic scales of his father’s native Lebanon. Born and originally raised in Massachusetts, he found his aesthetic when his family moved to Orange County, California in 1954 — where he took up surfing.

His high-energy interpretation of an old song from Asia Minor, “Misirlou” (Egyptian Girl), became the most famous song of surf rock: He had learned the tune from his Lebanese uncles, who played it on the oud.

“I started playing it,” Dale, who had started out as a drummer, told NPR in a 2010 interview, “and I said, ‘Oh no, that’s too slow.’ And I thought of Gene Krupa’s drumming, his staccato drumming… When we went to California, I got my first guitar, but I was using this rocket-attack, Gene Krupa rhythm on the guitar.”

And that wildfire-tempo song became his signature: Dale self-released “Misirlou” as a single on Deltone Records in 1962, which led in part to a deal with Capitol Records to distribute his first album, 1962’s Surfer’s Choice. Dale’s first album for Capitol was 1963’s King of the Surf Guitar; he said that fans at an early show came up with the honorary moniker.

Dale’s collaborations with guitar inventor Leo Fender also made sonic history. “I met a man called Leo Fender,” he told NPR, “who is the Einstein of the guitar and the amplifiers. He says, ‘Here, I just made a guitar, it’s a Stratocaster. You just beat it to death and tell me what you think. So when I started playing on that thing, I wanted to get it to be as loud as I could, like Gene Krupa drums. And as I was surfing, when the waves picked me up and took me through the tubes, I would get that rumble sound.”

Fender and Dale also worked together on amplifiers, Dale told Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross in 1993. “I wanted to get a fat, thick, deep sound,” Dale remarked.

Fender kept trying options, but Dale still wasn’t satisfied. “We kept on making all these adjustments with output transformers, with speakers,” Dale told Fresh Air, “and that’s how I blew up over 48 speakers and amplifiers. They’d catch on fire, the speakers would freeze, the speakers would tear from the coils … So he went back to the drawing board came up and invented the Dick Dale Showman amplifier, and the dual Showman amplifier with the 15 inch Lansing speaker. That was the end result … along with the creations that we did on the Stratocaster guitar, making it a real thick body because the thicker the wood, the purer the sound.”

Three decades after he first released his most famous tune, Dale and “Misirlou” had a wave of resurgence after the song was featured in the opening credits of Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 film Pulp Fiction. The movie’s soundtrack sold more than 3 million copies and helped put surf rock — and Dale himself — in front of a new generation of music fans. New compilations were issued and he was even booked on the 1996 Warped Tour.

Over the decades that followed, he released two more albums and kept playing in front of live audiences. “I make my guitar scream with pain or pleasure or sensuality,” he told NPR. “It makes people move their feet and shake their bodies. That’s what music does.”

Rest in peace, Mr. Dale. You will be missed, but your unique sound lives forever.

 

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Kimiko – Chapter 5 – Text to Fix

After my wonderful first date with the lovely Kimiko, I really wanted to see her again. I was going to try to set something up for a lunch this week. I also sent her a link to this great documentary about the Asian Bank, “Abacus: Small Enough Too Jail.” (If you’ve been following this blog you’ll know that I saw that film in the theater with Ambria.)

I’m texting her.

“Thank you! I’m still at work! How are you?”

“I’m at the salon working too! I’ve been thinking about our fun date last night!”

“Another busy day, right?

“Not too busy here tonight. Rain is keeping people away.”

“Yea…Wholefoods too.”

 

Tuesday

“Would you still be up for lunch on Thursday?”

“Hey, I’m done work now. Thursday I have a doctor’s appointment at 2pm. What time is good for you?”

“Shall we do 11 or 11:30? What works best for you?”

“My doctor’s office is in Moorestown. Quite far away from the city. You have to work Thursday?

“3 to 8pm. Looking at a property at 10am.”

“Oh.”

“Weekend better for you?”

“I guess so.”

“Aww! Saturday after 5 or Sunday after 4pm? Movies? Or I could do a Zip Car and come to Jersey. Or I could hop on Patco and we could dine in Haddonfield or Collingswood.”

“Great! We can talk later.”

_________________________________________________________________________________________

The week passes and so does the weekend. I don’t hear from her at all. I really like Kimiko and want to hang out with her again. (And kiss her again!) My schedule just really sucks right now.  I decide to make another attempt.

Monday

“Hi Kimiko. Have you lost interest?”

“You didn’t text me last week?!”

“I wanted to after I came up with a few solutions on how we could meet and I didn’t hear from you for the weekend. Maybe it was a misunderstanding.”

“You know what, it’s a misunderstanding, because I didn’t hear from you again, I thought you went on another date.”

“No. Like I said I have been working a lot lately. I like you and I thought our first date went really well.”

“Thank you. Yea, I had a good time too.”

“So you’re still interested in getting to know me and you’d like to go out again.”

“Sure!!”

“Yay!”

“Things have been busy getting this business off the ground. But I want to stay in touch with you and find ways to spend time with you whenever we can!”

“Yes! Sounds good! Because this weekend I’m going to New York for a baby shower.”

“Sounds good. I’m so glad we chatted tonight. I feel so much better and I hope you do too, Kimiko.”

“Indeed. You know sometimes online dating just ends for no reason.”

“I guess, but I think we have a good connection.”

“Yes!”

“Awesome. “Well have fun at the shower up in New York. We’ll chat again soon!”

“Absolutely!”

“Thank you, Kimiko.”

So I’ll leave it there for now. Hopefully once I get through the next week, I should have some free time to see her. I don’t want her to get away, but I fear that if I wait too long she will.

 

 

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