One of the most influential guitar players of the rock era died Sunday after he suffered from health issues for several years. Rolling Stone reports that Dick Dale, known as the King of the Surf Guitar, is dead at 81.
“In 2010, Dale said he was battling rectal cancer, and in an interview that went viral, Dale said in 2015 that ‘I can’t stop touring because I will die’ due to medical expenses stemming from cancer treatment, diabetes and renal failure,” Rolling Stone reports.
Dale reportedly said at the time: “I have to raise $3,000 every month to pay for the medical supplies I need to stay alive, and that’s on top of the insurance that I pay for.”
The report adds: “As the progenitor of the surf rock genre and an innovator who helped stretch the possibilities of the electric guitar, Dale inspired musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Ry Cooder and the Beach Boys. Dale’s ‘Misirlou’ also notably featured in the opening credits sequence of Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction.'”
Dale was born Richard Monsour in Boston in 1937, and first played ukulele and then guitar as a child. The report notes that his father, who had Lebanese roots, taught his son Middle Eastern scales, which would later form the backbone of surf music.
Rolling Stone adds: “After moving to Southern California as a senior in high school in 1954, Dale developed an obsession of surfing, ultimately combining his two passions and teaming with the Del-Tones to create tracks like 1961’s ‘Let’s Go Trippin’,’ considered the first surf rock song, and the following year’s ‘Misirlou,’ Dale’s take on an Eastern Mediterranean song; the Beach Boys would cover ‘Let’s Go Trippin” two years later on their 1963 LP ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.'”
Here’s Dick Dale and the Del-Tones playing “Misirlou” (1963) in a YouTube video we found that has had close to 8 million hits: