Dick Dale

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Dick Dale
Dick Dale, Viva Las Vegas, 2013-03-30 IMG 8131 (8605847986).jpg
Dale at the Orleans Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, 2013
Background information
Birth nameRichard Anthony Monsour
Also known asThe King of the Surf Guitar
Born(1937-05-04)May 4, 1937
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedMarch 16, 2019(2019-03-16) (aged 81)
Loma Linda Hospital, Loma Linda, California, U.S.
Genres Surf rock, proto-punk, instrumental rock, rock and roll
Instruments Guitar, vocals, piano, trumpet
Years active1955–2019
Labels Capitol, GNP Crescendo Records, Deltone
Associated actsDel-Tones
Website www.dickdale.com

Richard Anthony Monsour (May 4, 1937 – March 16, 2019), known professionally as Dick Dale, was an American rock guitarist. He was a pioneer of surf music, drawing on Middle Eastern music scales and experimenting with reverberation. Dale was known as "The King of the Surf Guitar", which was also the title of his second studio album.

Surf music is a subgenre of rock music associated with surf culture, particularly as found in Southern California. It was especially popular from 1962 to 1964 in two major forms. The first is instrumental surf, distinguished by reverb-drenched electric guitars played to evoke the sound of crashing waves, largely pioneered by Dick Dale and the Del-Tones. The second is vocal surf, which took elements of the original surf sound and added vocal harmonies, a movement led by the Beach Boys.

Middle Eastern music spans across a vast region, from Morocco to Iran. The various nations of the region include the Arab countries of the Middle East and North Africa, the Iranian traditions of Persia, the Hebrew music of Israel and the diaspora, Armenian music, the varied traditions of Cypriot music, the music of Turkey, traditional Assyrian music, Berbers of North Africa, Coptic Christians in Egypt, and the Andalusian music very much alive in North Africa, all maintain their own traditions. It is widely regarded that some Middle-Eastern musical styles have influenced India, as well as Central Asia, Spain, and the Balkans.

In music theory, a scale is any set of musical notes ordered by fundamental frequency or pitch. A scale ordered by increasing pitch is an ascending scale, and a scale ordered by decreasing pitch is a descending scale. Some scales contain different pitches when ascending than when descending, for example, the melodic minor scale.


Dale worked closely with the manufacturer Fender to produce custom-made amplifiers [1] including the first-ever 100-watt guitar amplifier. [2] He pushed the limits of electric amplification technology, helping to develop equipment that was capable of producing a louder guitar sound without sacrificing reliability. [1]

Fender Musical Instruments Corporation American manufacturer of stringed instruments and amplifiers

Fender Musical Instruments Corporation is an American manufacturer of stringed instruments and amplifiers. Fender produces acoustic guitars, bass amplifiers and public address equipment, but is best known for its solid-body electric guitars and bass guitars, particularly the Stratocaster, Telecaster, Precision Bass, and the Jazz Bass. The company was founded in Fullerton, California, by Clarence Leonidas "Leo" Fender in 1946. Its headquarters are in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Guitar amplifier Electronic amplifier for stringed pickup-equipped instruments

A guitar amplifier is an electronic device or system that strengthens the weak electrical signal from a pickup on an electric guitar, bass guitar, or acoustic guitar so that it can produce sound through one or more loudspeakers, which are typically housed in a wooden cabinet. A guitar amplifier may be a standalone wood or metal cabinet that contains only the power amplifier circuits, requiring the use of a separate speaker cabinet–or it may be a "combo" amplifier, which contains both the amplifier and one or more speakers in a wooden cabinet. There is a wide range of sizes and power ratings for guitar amplifiers, from small, lightweight "practice amplifiers" with a single 6" speaker and a 10 watt amp to heavy combo amps with four 10” or four 12" speakers and a powerful 100 watt amplifier, which are loud enough to use in a nightclub or bar performance.

Early life

Dick Dale was born Richard Anthony Monsour in Boston, Massachusetts, on May 4, 1937. He was of Lebanese descent from his father, James, [3] and of Polish-Belarusian descent from his mother, Sophia "Fern" (Danksewicz). [3] [4] [5] [6] His family subsequently moved to Quincy, Massachusetts. He learned the piano when he was nine after listening to his aunt playing it. [7] [8] He was given a trumpet in seventh grade, and later acquired a ukulele (for $6 part exchange), after having become influenced by Hank Williams. [9] [10] The first song he played on the ukulele was "Tennessee Waltz". [9] [10] He was also influenced musically by his uncle, who taught him how to play the tarabaki and could play the oud. [11] [12] [13]

The Lebanese people are the people inhabiting or originating from Lebanon. The term may also include those who had inhabited Mount Lebanon and the Anti-Lebanon mountains prior to the creation of the modern Lebanese state. The major religious groups among the Lebanese people within Lebanon are Shia Muslims (27%), Sunni Muslims (27%), Maronite Christians (21%), Greek Orthodox Christians (8%), Melkite Christians (5%), Druze (5.6%), Protestant Christians (1%). The largest contingente of Lebanese, however, comprise a diaspora in North America, South America, Europe, Australia and Africa, which is predominantly Maronite Christian.

Poland Republic in Central Europe

Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.

Belarus country in Eastern Europe

Belarus, officially the Republic of Belarus, formerly known by its Russian name Byelorussia or Belorussia, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk. Over 40% of its 207,600 square kilometres (80,200 sq mi) is forested. Its major economic sectors are service industries and manufacturing. Until the 20th century, different states at various times controlled the lands of modern-day Belarus, including the Principality of Polotsk, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Russian Empire.

Dale then bought a guitar from a friend for $8, paying him back by installments. He learned to play the instrument, using both lead and rhythm styles, so that the guitar filled the place of drums. His early tarabaki drumming later influenced his guitar playing, particularly his rapid alternate picking technique. Dale referred to this as "the pulsation", noting all instruments he played derived from the tarabaki. [13] He was raised in Quincy until he completed the eleventh grade at Quincy High School in 1954, when his father, a machinist, took a job working for Hughes Aircraft Company in the Southern California aerospace industry. [14] [15] [10] The family moved to El Segundo, California. Dale spent his senior year at and graduated from Washington Senior High School. [16] He learned to surf at the age of 17. [17] [17] As a Lebanese-American, he retained a strong interest in Arabic music, which later played a major role in his development of surf rock music. [13]

Lead guitar, also known as solo guitar, is a musical part for a guitar in which the guitarist plays melody lines, instrumental fill passages, guitar solos, and occasionally, some riffs within a song structure. The lead is the featured guitar, which usually plays single-note-based lines or double-stops. In rock, heavy metal, blues, jazz, punk, fusion, some pop, and other music styles, lead guitar lines are usually supported by a second guitarist who plays rhythm guitar, which consists of accompaniment chords and riffs.

Rhythm guitar guitar technique; part of the rhythmic pulse in conjunction with other instruments from the rhythm section

In music performances, rhythm guitar is a technique and role that performs a combination of two functions: to provide all or part of the rhythmic pulse in conjunction with other instruments from the rhythm section ; and to provide all or part of the harmony, i.e. the chords from a song's chord progression, where a chord is a group of notes played together. Therefore, the basic technique of rhythm guitar is to hold down a series of chords with the fretting hand while strumming or fingerpicking rhythmically with the other hand. More developed rhythm techniques include arpeggios, damping, riffs, chord solos, and complex strums.

Alternate picking is a guitar playing technique that employs alternating downward and upward strokes in a continuous fashion. If the technique is performed at high speed on a single string voicing the same note, it may be referred to as "tremolo picking" or "double picking".



Dale began playing in local country western rockabilly bars where he met Texas Tiny in 1955, [18] who gave him the name "Dick Dale" because he thought it was a good name for a country singer. [19]

Fender Showman (On loan from Dick Dale) Fender Showman Ampi, MIM PHX.jpg
Fender Showman (On loan from Dick Dale)

Dale employed non-Western scales in his playing. He regularly used reverb, which became a trademark of surf guitar. Being left-handed, Dale tried to play a right-handed guitar, but then changed to a left handed model. [11] However, he did so without restringing the guitar, leading him to effectively play the guitar upside-down, often playing by reaching over the fretboard, rather than wrapping his fingers up from underneath. He partnered with Leo Fender to test new equipment, later saying "When it can withstand the barrage of punishment from Dick Dale, then it is fit for the human consumption." His combination of loud amplifiers and heavy gauge strings led him to be called the "Father of Heavy Metal". [10] After blowing up several Fender amplifiers, Leo Fender and Freddie Tavares saw Dale play at the Rendezvous Ballroom, Balboa, California and identified the problem arose from him creating a sound louder than the audience screaming. The pair visited the James B. Lansing loudspeaker company and asked for a custom 15-inch loudspeaker, which became the JBL D130F model, and was known as the Single Showman Amp. Dale's combination of a Fender Stratocaster and Fender Showman Amp allowed him to attain significantly louder volume levels unobtainable by then-conventional equipment. [20]

Reverberation, in psychoacoustics and acoustics, is a persistence of sound after the sound is produced. A reverberation, or reverb, is created when a sound or signal is reflected causing numerous reflections to build up and then decay as the sound is absorbed by the surfaces of objects in the space – which could include furniture, people, and air. This is most noticeable when the sound source stops but the reflections continue, decreasing in amplitude, until they reach zero amplitude.

Leo Fender American inventor and founder of the Fender company

Clarence Leonidas "Leo" Fender was an American inventor who founded Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company, or "Fender" for short. In January 1965, he sold the company to CBS and later founded two other musical instrument companies, Music Man and G&L Musical Instruments.

Frederick Theodore Tavares was an American musician and inventor. Born in Hawaii, Tavares is perhaps best known for his role in designing the Fender Stratocaster and other Fender instruments and amplifiers. He was also a virtuoso on the steel guitar, playing on many hundreds of recording sessions, radio broadcasts and movie soundtracks. The signature steel guitar swoop at the beginning of every Warner Bros. Looney Tunes theatrical short was played by Tavares. His other credits include work with Ray Conniff, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, The Sons of the Pioneers, "Tennessee" Ernie Ford, Spike Jones and His City Slickers, Lawrence Welk, and Henry Mancini.

Dale's performances at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa in mid to late 1961 are credited with the creation of the surf music phenomenon. Dale obtained permission to use the 3,000 person capacity ballroom for surfer dances after overcrowding at a local ice cream parlor where he performed made him seek other venues. [21] The Rendezvous ownership and the city of Newport Beach agreed to Dale's request on the condition that he prohibit alcohol sales and implement a dress code. Dale's events at the ballrooms, called "stomps," quickly became legendary, and the events routinely sold out. [21]

"Let's Go Trippin'" is one of the first surf rock songs. [22] This was followed by more locally released songs, including "Jungle Fever" and "Surf Beat" on his own Deltone label. His first full-length album was Surfers' Choice in 1962. The album was picked up by Capitol Records and distributed nationally, and Dale soon began appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show , and in films where he played his signature single "Misirlou". He later stated, "I still remember the first night we played it ("Misirlou"). I changed the tempo, and just started cranking on that mother. And ... it was eerie. The people came rising up off the floor, and they were chanting and stomping. I guess that was the beginning of the surfer's stomp." [23] His second album was named after his performing nickname, "King of the Surf Guitar". [24]

Dale later said "There was a tremendous amount of power I felt while surfing and that feeling of power was simply transferred into my guitar". His playing style reflected the experience he had when surfing, and projecting the power of the ocean to people. [25]

Dale and the Del-Tones performed both sides of his Capitol single, "Secret Surfin' Spot" in the 1963 movie, Beach Party, starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. [26] The group performed the songs "My First Love," "Runnin' Wild" and "Muscle Beach" in the 1964 film, Muscle Beach Party . [27]

Later career

Dale performing in 2006 Dick Dale @ The Tractor Tavern 9-11-2006 (2366673198).jpg
Dale performing in 2006

Surf rock's national popularity was somewhat brief, as the British Invasion began to overtake the American charts in 1964. Though he continued performing live, Dale developed colorectal cancer. [27] In the liner notes of Better Shred Than Dead: The Dick Dale Anthology, Dale quoted Jimi Hendrix saying, "Then you'll never hear surf music again" in response to hearing he might be terminally ill. Dale covered "Third Stone from the Sun" as a tribute to Hendrix. [28] Though he recovered, he retired from music for several years. In 1979, he almost lost a leg after a pollution-related infection of a mild swimming injury. As a result, Dale became an environmental activist and soon began performing again. He recorded a new album in 1986 and was nominated for a Grammy. In 1987 he appeared in the movie Back to the Beach , playing surf music and performing "Pipeline" with Stevie Ray Vaughan. [27]

The use of "Misirlou" in the 1994 Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction gained him a new audience. The following year, John Peel praised his playing following a gig in the Garage, London. [29] Peel later selected "Let's Go Trippin'" as the theme tune for his BBC Radio 4 series Home Truths . [30] The same year, he recorded a surf-rock version of Camille Saint-Saëns's "Aquarium" from The Carnival of the Animals for the musical score of the enclosed roller coaster, Space Mountain at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. [31]

In 2009, Dale was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. [32] Dale is also a 2011 inductee into the Surfing Walk of Fame in Huntington Beach, California, in the Surf Culture category. [33]

In June 2009, Dale began a West Coast tour from southern California to British Columbia, with approximately 20 concert dates. "Forever Came Calling" (or FCC) featured Dale's then-17-year-old son, Jimmie Dale on drums, who opened for him. He was scheduled to play the Australian One Great Night On Earth festival to raise funds to benefit those affected by the Black Saturday bushfires and other natural disasters. [34]

Dale said that he was forced to keep touring to the end of his life, because of his inability to afford his medical costs. [35] [36] He had many health issues, including diabetes, renal failure, and vertebrae damage that made performing excruciatingly painful. [37] At the time of his death, Dale had tour dates scheduled into November 2019. [35]

Personal life

Dale was married three times. First wife Jeannie in the 1970's was a Tahitian dancer in Hawaii and provided back up vocals for the 1975 release Spanish Eyes. [38] Together they created a musical revue and toured at resorts in Las Vegas, Reno and Lake Tahoe. From the proceeds, Dale and wife Jeannie made successful investments in nightclubs and real estate allowing Dale to purchase his three-story 17 room dream mansion at 'the Wedge' located in Newport Beach at the tip of the Balboa Peninsula and mouth to Newport Harbor. Jeannie toured with Dale and his Deltones through the early 80's up until their very public and bitter divorce in 1984 which depleted much of Dale's accumulated wealth. [39]

He met his second wife Jill, a veterinary assistant, at a Huntington Harbour, Ca party in 1986. [40] Together they had son, James (Jimmy), born in 1992 and they lived at Dale's Sky Ranch in Twentynine Palms, Ca. Dale credits Jill for his transition from Surf Rock to a more raw and stripped down style that consisted of just him and two other musicians. Jill also provided back up vocals and drum tracks for Dale's 1993 Tribal Thunder [41] and 1996 Calling Up Spirits albums.[ citation needed ]

Dale married third wife Lana in 2011. He said that he never used alcohol or other drugs, for health reasons, and discouraged their use by band members and road crew. In 1972, he stopped eating red meat. He studied Kenpo karate for over 30 years. [20] [42] [13] [43] In early 2008, he experienced a recurrence of colorectal cancer and completed a surgical, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment regimen. [44]


Dale died in Loma Linda, California at Loma Linda Hospital with his wife Lana Dale by his side on March 16, 2019 at 10:15PM, at the age of 81. [29] [45] He was treated for heart failure and kidney failure prior to his death. [46]


Studio albums

Live albums



YearTitles (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
Label & numberAlbum US Pop Chart [48]
b/w "Breaking Heart"
Deltone 5012Non-album tracks-
1959"Stop Teasing"
b/w "Without Your Love"
Deltone 5013
1960"We'll Never Hear The End Of It"
b/w "The Fairest Of Them All"
Concert Room 371; Cupid 103
"St. Louis Blues"
b/w "Jesse Pearl"
Deltone 5014
1961"Let's Go Trippin'"
b/w "Del-Tone Rock" (Non-album track)
Deltone 5017Surfer's Choice60
1962"Jungle Fever"
b/w "Shake-N-Stomp" (from Surfer's Choice)
Deltone 5018Non-album tracks
b/w "Eight Till Midnight"
Deltone 5019; Capitol 4939
"Peppermint Man"
b/w "Surf Beat"
Deltone 5020; Capitol 4940Surfer's Choice
1963"King Of The Surf Guitar"
b/w "Hava Nagila"
Capitol 4963King Of The Surf Guitar
"Surfin' and A-Swingin'"
b/w "Secret Surfin' Spot"
Capitol 5010Non-album tracks
"The Scavenger"
b/w "Wild Ideas" (Non-album track)
Capitol 5048Checkered Flag98
"The Wedge"
b/w "Night Rider"
Capitol 5098
1964"Mr. Eliminator"
b/w "The Victor"
Capitol 5140Mr. Eliminator
"Wild Wild Mustang"
b/w "Grudge Run" (from Checkered Flag)
Capitol 5187Non-album track
"Glory Wave"
b/w "Never On Sunday"
Capitol 5225Summer Surf
"Oh Marie"
b/w "Who Can He Be"
Capitol 5290Non-album tracks
1965"Let's Go Trippin' 65"
b/w "Watusi Jo" (from Live at Ciro's)
Capitol 5389
1966"A Run For Life"
b/w "Lovin' On My Brain"
Deltone 5028
1967"Taco Wagon"
b/w "Spanish Kiss"
Cougar 712
1975"Let's Go Trippin'"
b/w "Those Memories Of You"
GNP Crescendo 804Greatest Hits
1987"Pipeline" (with Stevie Ray Vaughan)
b/w "Love Struck Baby" by Stevie Ray Vaughan (Non-album track)
Columbia 38-07340Back To The Beach (soundtrack)


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"Misirlou" is a folk song from the Eastern Mediterranean region, with origins in the Ottoman Empire. The original author of the folk song is not known, but it was known to Arabic, Greek and Jewish musicians by the 1920s. The earliest known recording of the song is a 1927 Greek rebetiko/tsifteteli composition influenced by Middle Eastern music. There are also Arabic belly dancing, Armenian, Persian, Indian and Turkish versions of the song. This song was popular from the 1920s onwards in the Arab American, Armenian American and Greek American communities who settled in the United States of America as part of the Ottoman diaspora.

The Challengers was an instrumental surf rock band started in late 1962. They were located in Los Angeles. They represented a growing love for surf music and helped make the genre popular. Their debut album Surfbeat was the biggest selling surf album of all time and helped bring surf music from California to the rest of the world.

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Music from the Motion Picture Pulp Fiction is the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino's 1994 film Pulp Fiction. No traditional film score was commissioned for Pulp Fiction. The film contains a mix of American rock and roll, surf music, pop and soul. The soundtrack is equally untraditional, consisting of nine songs from the movie, four tracks of dialogue snippets followed by a song, and three tracks of dialogue alone. Seven songs featured in the movie were not included in the original 41-minute soundtrack.

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Further reading