Dick Dale (born Richard Anthony Monsour on May 4, 1937, in Boston, Massachusetts) is a surf rock guitarist, known as "The King Of The Surf Guitar". He experimented with reverberation and made use of custom made Fender amplifiers, including the first-ever 100-watt amp
Dale was born to a Lebanese father and a Polish mother, and moved from Massachusetts to Orange County, California in 1954. He learned to surf and became interested in music. He soon learned to play the drums, the ukulele, the trumpet and finally the guitar. Among his early musical influences was his uncle, an oud player performing belly dance music. Much of his early music shows a Middle Eastern influence; Dale is often credited as one of the first electric guitarists to employ non-Western scales in his playing. Dale himself was an amateur surfer and wanted his music to reflect the sounds he heard in his mind while surfing. While he is primarily known for introducing the use of guitar reverb that would give the guitar a "wet" sound, which has since become a staple of surf music, it was Dale's tremolo picking that was his trademark. Since Dale was left-handed he was initially forced to play a right-handed model, much like Jimi Hendrix would do a few years later. However, he did so without restringing the guitar, leading him to effectively play the guitar upside-down (while Hendrix would restring his guitar) and often plays by reaching over the fretboard rather than wrap his fingers up from underneath. Even after he acquired a proper left-handed guitar, Dale continued to use his reverse stringing. Dale is also noted for playing his percussive, heavy bending style while using what are, for most guitarists, extremely heavy gauge string sets (16p, 18p, 20p. 38w, 48w, 58w; standard electric guitar string set may range from 10 to 46).
His desire to create a certain sound led him to push the limits of equipment:
Leo Fender kept giving Dale amps and Dale kept blowing them up! Till one night Leo and his right hand man Freddy T. (Freddy Tavares) went down to the Rendezvous Ballroom on the Balboa Peninsula in Balboa, California and stood in the middle of Four Thousand screaming dancing Dick Dale fans and said to Freddy, I now know what Dick Dale is trying to tell me. Back to the drawing board. A special 85 watt output transformer was made that peaked 100 watts when Dale would pump up the volume of his amp, this transformer would create the sounds along with Dale's style of playing, the kind of sounds that Dale dreamed of. But they now needed a speaker that would handle the power and not burn up from the volume that would come from Dale's guitar. Leo, Freddy and Dale went to the James B. Lansing speaker company, and they explained that they wanted a fifteen inch speaker built to their specifications. That speaker would soon be known as the 15" JBL -D130 speaker. It made the complete package for Dale to play through and was named the Single Showman Amp. When Dale plugged his Fender Stratocaster guitar into the new Showman Amp and speaker cabinet, Dale became the first creature on earth to jump from the volume scale of a modest quiet guitar player on a scale of 4 to blasting up through the volume scale to TEN! That is when Dale became the "Father of Heavy Metal" as quoted from Guitar Player Magazine. Dale broke through the electronic barrier limitations of that era! [quoted from the official Dick Dale Web site.]
With his backing band The Del-Tones, Dale's live performances became huge local draws. 1961's "Let's Go Trippin'" is often regarded as the first surf rock song. 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. His signature single "Misirlou" went to No. 1 in Los Angeles. 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.
Though surf rock became nationally popular in the United States briefly, the British Invasion began to overtake the American charts in 1964. Though he continued performing live, Dale was soon set back by rectal cancer. He recovered, though, and retired from music for a time. In 1979, he almost lost a leg after being injured while swimming; a pollution-related infection made the mild injury much worse. 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, and the use of "Misirlou" in the Quentin Tarantino film, Pulp Fiction, gained him a new audience. He has released several albums since and continues to tour.
In 1987 he appeared in the movie "Back to the Beach." He features playing surf music, also playing "Pipeline" with Stevie Ray Vaughan.
In 1993 he recorded a guitar solo on the track "Should Have Known" by Southern California indie band "The Pagodas" which was released as a vinyl single.
In 1995, 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.
The National Hockey League's Colorado Avalanche use the song Scalped as their theme song.
In 2002, Dale appeared in The True Meaning of Christmas Specials, he also played several original songs for the program.
Of recent interest, the Black Eyed Peas song "Pump It" (from the 2005 album Monkey Business) heavily samples Dale's "Misirlou". "Misirlou" is also featured in the PlayStation 2/Xbox 360 video game, Guitar Hero II, as well as the Wii launch title Rayman Raving Rabbids.
Dale has been calling Twentynine Palms, Calif., his home now for more than 25 years.
In 2008, Dick Dale experienced a recurrence of rectal cancer and has finished a chemo and radiation treatment.
* Surfers' Choice (Deltone 1962)
* King of the Surf Guitar (Capitol 1963)
* Checkered Flag (Capitol 1963)
* Mr. Eliminator (Capitol 1964)
* Summer Surf (Capitol 1964)
* Rock out with Dick Dale and his Del-Tones: Live at Ciro's (Capitol 1965)
* The Tigers Loose (Balboa 1983) [live album]
* Tribal Thunder (HighTone 1993)
* Unknown Territory (1994)
* Calling Up Spirits (Beggars Banquet 1996)
* Spacial Disorientation (Dick Dale Records / The Orchard 2001)