Dick Dale

Published on March 5th, 2014


dick daleMost people know him as the “King of the Surf Guitar,” and for his enduring hit song “Miserlou,” popularized in the soundtrack to “Pulp Fiction.” But there’s a lot more to Dick Dale, the seemingly indestructible rock ‘n’ roll legend who will be making his SunFest debut this year at age 77 on Wednesday, April 30.

Dale is still battling the ravages of cancer that sidelined him for several years. But he’s made an amazing comeback, touring relentlessly and hitting South Florida clubs for the past three years. Now he finds himself on the main SunFest stage opening for Kid Rock.

dick dale

But if you know anything about Dick Dale, his resilience should come as no surprise. Over the course of nearly 60 years in the music business, he has established himself as a renaissance man determined to live life to the fullest, without drugs and alcohol. You probably know that Dale invented surf music and helped Fender develop the modern guitar amp, but here are a few more fascinating facts about a fascinating man:

Before playing electric guitar, Dale learned the drums, ukulele and trumpet. He has also mastered the banjo, piano, organ, harpsichord, trombone, xaxophone, harmonica, xylophone and accordion. He claims that he rarely picks up the guitar, except when going on stage. And though known mainly as an instrumentalist, he also sings lead vocals in his current band.

He started in the music biz in 1955 as a DJ in California, then played alongside Johnny Cash, Ernest Tubb and Gene Autry on a country music TV show.

He was the first rock guitarist to perform on television’s iconic Ed Sullivan Show in the early 1960s. (Check out the YouTube clips!)

dick dale

His groundbreaking guitar technique influenced not only generations of surf guitarists, but also such rock gods as Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen.

Dale beat the odds by overcoming cancer several times in his career. During a scare in the 1970s, Hendrix referred to Dale in the song “Third Stone from the Sun” when he said: “You’ll never hear surf music again.”

Over the course of his life, Dale also became an accomplished surfer, artist, photographer, horseman, exotic animal trainer, martial arts expert, archer, pilot and home-builder. He likes to say that he thrives at being a “jack of all trades and a master of none.” Guitar fans may beg to differ with that.

Dick Dale interview, photos and more at TheAtomicGrog.com
~Jim Hayward | TheAtomicGrog.com

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/29731610″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=true&hide_related=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]