Dick Dale, Surf Music Pioneer
Before the Beach Boys, Dick Dale's power guitar was the sound of surf music. Uploaded by degriephoto.com.
You may remember Dick Dale from the soundtrack of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. That rapid staccato guitar playing “Misirlou” over the opening credits, just as Ringo (Pumpkin) and Yolanda (Honey Bunny) announce their hold-up of the diner. The soundtrack to that film was one of its strengths, and Dick Dale set the tone.
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Dale earned the title “The King of the Surf Guitar,” a style that he’s credited with creating. Before The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean turned surf music mellow, Dick Dale’s more raw, energy-driven sound defined the genre. He was able to do it, in part, because Leo Fender created a special amp with an extra powerful transformer, and then JBL built a speaker that could handle that extra juice.
Dale’s popularity peaked in the early sixties and, like most American artists, got buried under the phenomenon called the British Invasion. He released six albums and five singles during his heyday, none of which turned out to make much of an impact on the charts. But Dick Dale’s style has influenced rock guitarists from his day till now, including such legends as Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Take a listen to the classic “Misirlou”:
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