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.
Dale at the Orleans Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, 2013
|Birth name||Richard Anthony Mansour|
|Also known as||The King of the Surf Guitar|
|Born||May 4, 1937|
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||March 16, 2019 (aged 81)|
Loma Linda, California, U.S.
|Genres||Surf rock, proto-punk, instrumental rock, rock and roll|
|Instruments||Guitar, vocals, piano, trumpet|
|Labels||Capitol, GNP Crescendo Records, Deltone|
Dale worked closely with the manufacturer Fender to produce custom-made amplifiers including the first-ever 100-watt guitar amplifier. He pushed the limits of electric amplification technology, helping to develop equipment that was capable of producing a louder guitar sound without sacrificing reliability.
Dick Dale was born Richard Anthony Monsour in Boston, Massachusetts, on May 4, 1937. He was of Lebanese descent from his father, James, and of Polish-Belarusian descent from his mother, Sophia "Fern" (Danksewicz). His family subsequently moved to Quincy, Massachusetts. He learned the piano when he was nine after listening to his aunt playing it. He was given a trumpet in seventh grade, and later acquired a ukulele (for $6 part exchange), after having become influenced by Hank Williams. The first song he played on the ukulele was "Tennessee Waltz". He was also influenced musically by his uncle, who taught him how to play the tarabaki and could play the oud.
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. 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. The family moved to El Segundo, California. Dale spent his senior year at and graduated from Washington Senior High School. He learned to surf at the age of 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.
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. 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". 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.
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. 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.
"Let's Go Trippin'" is one of the first surf rock songs. 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." His second album was named after his performing nickname, "King of the Surf Guitar".
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.
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. The group performed the songs "My First Love," "Runnin' Wild" and "Muscle Beach" in the 1964 film, Muscle Beach Party.
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. 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. 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.
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. Peel later selected "Let's Go Trippin'" as the theme tune for his BBC Radio 4 series Home Truths. 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.
In 2009, Dale was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. Dale is also a 2011 inductee into the Surfing Walk of Fame in Huntington Beach, California, in the Surf Culture category.
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.
Dale said that he was forced to keep touring to the end of his life, because of his inability to afford his medical costs. He had many health issues, including diabetes, renal failure, and vertebrae damage that made performing excruciatingly painful. At the time of his death, Dale had tour dates scheduled into November 2019.
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. 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.
He met his second wife Jill, a veterinary assistant, at a Huntington Harbour, Ca party in 1986. 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 and 1996 Calling Up Spirits albums.
Dale married third wife Lana in 2015, a marriage which eventually caused an estrangement with his son Jimmy  who took issue with her claims of being in contact with Dale's deceased parents. Jimmy, who had been touring and playing shows with his father, remained at odds with Lana and therefore was estranged from Dale up until his death.
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. In early 2008, he experienced a recurrence of colorectal cancer and completed a surgical, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment regimen.
- Surfers' Choice (Deltone, 1962; Capitol, 1963; Sundazed, 2006)
- King of the Surf Guitar (Capitol, 1963; Sundazed, 2007)
- Checkered Flag (Capitol, 1963; Sundazed, 2007)
- Mr. Eliminator (Capitol, 1964; Sundazed, 2007)
- Summer Surf (Capitol, 1964; Sundazed, 2007)
- Tribal Thunder (Hightone, 1993)
- Unknown Territory (Hightone, 1994)
- Calling Up Spirits (Beggars Banquet, 1996)
- Spacial Disorientation (Dick Dale/The Music Force, 2001)
- Rock Out with Dick Dale & His Del-Tones Live at Ciro's (Capitol, 1965; Sundazed [LP only], 2010)
- The Tigers Loose (Balboa, 1983; Rhino [LP only], 1987)
- Live on the Santa Monica Pier (Rockbeat, 1994/1996 [rel. 2014]) 2CD
- Greatest Hits (GNP Crescendo [LP issue], 1975; GNP Crescendo [CD issue], 1992)
- King of the Surf Guitar: The Best of Dick Dale & His Del-Tones (Rhino [LP issue], 1986; Rhino [CD issue], 1989)
- Better Shred Than Dead: The Dick Dale Anthology (Rhino, 1997) 2CD
- Singles Collection '61–'65 (Sundazed, 2010) 2LP
- Guitar Legend: The Very Best of Dick Dale (Shout! Factory, 2010)
- King of the Surf Guitar (Rockbeat, 2012) 2LP; 1CD
- At the Drags (Rockbeat, 2012) 2LP; 1CD
- Misirlou: Dick Dale & His Del-Tones (Jasmine, 2018)
|Year||Titles (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
|Label & number||Album||US Pop Chart|
b/w "Breaking Heart"
|Deltone 5012||Non-album tracks||-|
b/w "Without Your Love"
|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"
|1961||"Let's Go Trippin'"
b/w "Del-Tone Rock" (Non-album track)
|Deltone 5017||Surfer's Choice||60|
b/w "Shake-N-Stomp" (from Surfer's Choice)
|Deltone 5018||Non-album tracks||–|
b/w "Eight Till Midnight"
|Deltone 5019; Capitol 4939||–|
b/w "Surf Beat"
|Deltone 5020; Capitol 4940||Surfer's Choice||–|
|1963||"King Of The Surf Guitar"
b/w "Hava Nagila"
|Capitol 4963||King Of The Surf Guitar||–|
|"Surfin' and A-Swingin'"
b/w "Secret Surfin' Spot"
|Capitol 5010||Non-album tracks||–|
b/w "Wild Ideas" (Non-album track)
|Capitol 5048||Checkered Flag||98|
b/w "Night Rider"
b/w "The Victor"
|Capitol 5140||Mr. Eliminator||–|
|"Wild Wild Mustang"
b/w "Grudge Run" (from Checkered Flag)
|Capitol 5187||Non-album track||–|
b/w "Never On Sunday"
|Capitol 5225||Summer Surf||–|
b/w "Who Can He Be"
|Capitol 5290||Non-album tracks||–|
|1965||"Let's Go Trippin' 65"
b/w "Watusi Jo" (from Live at Ciro's)
|1966||"A Run For Life"
b/w "Lovin' On My Brain"
b/w "Spanish Kiss"
|1975||"Let's Go Trippin'"
b/w "Those Memories Of You"
|GNP Crescendo 804||Greatest Hits||–|
|1987||"Pipeline" (with Stevie Ray Vaughan)
b/w "Love Struck Baby" by Stevie Ray Vaughan (Non-album track)
|Columbia 38-07340||Back To The Beach (soundtrack)||–|
- Huey, Steve. "Dick Dale". AllMusic. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
- History Archived September 13, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, Dick Dale official website
- BOEHM, MIKE (May 20, 1993). "Cresting a New Wave : Dick Dale, Family Man and Surf Guitar King, Is Ready to Ride" – via LA Times.
- Huey, Steve. "Dick Dale Biography". AllMusic.
- "Dick Dale: 'King of Surf Rock' guitarist dies aged 81". BBC News. March 18, 2019. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
- Larkin, Colin (2000). The encyclopedia of popular music. Oxford University. p. 699. ISBN 0195313739.
- "Surfers' Choice: The Innovation and Triumph of Dick Dale". Rockonphilly.com. August 11, 2015. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- O'Connor, Patrick. "The wisdom of Dick Dale". Nuvo.net. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- Pajot, S. (June 3, 2011). "Dick Dale the King of Surf Guitar Talks Blowouts, Wipeouts, and Animal Screams". Miaminewtimes.com. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- "Dick Dale". Last.fm. February 11, 2009. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
- "St. Anthony's Lebanese Festival – Boston Central". Bostoncentral.com. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- Holgate, Steve (September 14, 2006). "Guitarist Dick Dale Brought Arabic Folk Song to Surf Music". The Washington File. Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- Pareles, Jon. "Surfin' Again". Nytimes.com. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- Boehm, Mike (May 20, 1993). "Cresting a New Wave : Dick Dale, Family Man and Surf Guitar King, Is Ready to Ride". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- Crowe, Julia (2012). My First Guitar: Tales of True Love and Lost Chords from 70 Legendary Musicians. ECW Press. pp. 92–93. ISBN 1770902759.
- Hodgins, Paul (March 20, 2009). "Dick Dale is still darn loud". Orange County Register. p. News 15.
- "Guy Norris "Texas Tiny" Cherry (1917–1971) – Find..." Findagrave.com. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- "PIPELINE: Surf Music's Rocky Rise, Untimely Death, and Unlikely Return". Trustmeimascientist.com. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- "Official website". Dickdale.com. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
- "Rendezvous Ballroom". Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
- Marsh, Dave (2004). Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon and Schuster. p. 208. ISBN 978-0-7432-0169-8.
- "Washed out for a decade, surf's up again," Los Angeles Times, February 1, 1981.
- Deming, Mark. Dick Dale at AllMusic
- David P. Szatmary, Rockin' in Time, 8th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2014), p. 73.
- "Guitarist Dick Dale 1937 – 2019". Jambase. March 18, 2019. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
- "Dick Dale Obituary". The Guardian. March 18, 2019. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
- Dick Dale, Better Shred Than Dead: The Dick Dale Anthology (Rhino Records, 1997), liner notes to Disc 2, Track 12.
- Snapes, Laura (March 17, 2019). "Dick Dale, godfather of surf guitar, dies aged 81". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
- "Dick Dale". BBC Radio 1. Archived from the original on March 5, 2015. (BBC Radio 1 John Peel minisite)
- "Dick Dale, Guitarist on the 1996 Soundtrack for Disneyland's Space Mountain, Dies at 81". WDW Info. March 18, 2019. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
- Gilbert October 13, 2009, Calvin. "Rascal Flatts Perform With Toto During Musicians Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony". CMT News. Archived from the original on October 31, 2014.
- Carroll, Corky (June 9, 2011). "Walk of Fame inductee list one of the best ever". Orange County Register.
- "All hail the great Dick Dale!". OneGreatNightOnEarth.com.au. May 16, 2011. Archived from the original on August 26, 2011. Retrieved December 15, 2011.
- "Concert Dates & Diaries". The Official Dick Dale Homepage. Archived from the original on March 18, 2019. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
- Deitch, Charlie. "At 78 and with myriad health issues, surf-rock legend Dick Dale plays through the pain". Archived from the original on March 17, 2016. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
- Swenson, Kyle (March 18, 2019). "'I have to perform to save my life': Medical bills kept rock legend Dick Dale touring till the end". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
- "Dick Dale & His Del-Tones – Greatest Hits". discogs.com. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
- "Cresting a New Wave : Dick Dale, Family Man and Surf Guitar King, Is Ready to Ride". latimes.com. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
- "BACK IN THE PIPELINE : Surf Rock Daddy Dick Dale Finds a New Wave of Popular Music Curling His Way". latimes.com. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
- "Dick Dale "Tribal Thunder"". guitar9.com. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
- "Dick Dale, king of surf guitar, remembered for high desert roots". desertsun.com. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
- "2017 Inductees – Kenpo Karate Hall of Fame". Kkhof.com. Retrieved May 28, 2018.
- "At 80 and with myriad health issues, surf-rock legend Dick Dale plays through the pain Archived March 17, 2016, at the Wayback Machine" Pittsburg City Paper, July 29, 2015.
- "Play One For Dick Dale" Archived January 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, surferspath.com
- Jeff Tamarkin, "Dick Dale, King of Surf Guitar, Dead at 82", Best Classic Bands, March 17, 2019. Retrieved March 17, 2019
- Rueb, Emily S.; Pareles, Jon (March 17, 2019). "Dick Dale, 81, King of the Surf Guitar, Dies" – via NYTimes.com.
- "Dick Dale discography". AllMusic. Retrieved March 19, 2019.
- Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955–2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 171. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.
- "Pulp Fiction soundtrack - credits". AllMusic. Retrieved March 19, 2019.