Creator of Surf Music, Dick Dale Still has Many Waves to Ride
By DONNA BALANCIA – Surf Guitar legend Dick Dale says his purpose is to inspire.
Dale, who is drawing more crowds than ever at 78 years old, is one of music’s greatest innovators. His surf guitar sound inspired a range of bands from The Beach Boys and The Surfaris, to The Cure.
And on New Year’s Eve, Dale will be inspiring people to ring in 2016 stronger than ever. He headlines New Year’s Eve at the Whisky A Go Go in an all-ages show.
“I love playing the Whisky,” Dale said in an interview with California Rocker. “And New Year’s Eve is always special. But I really want families to celebrate together, that’s why I always play an all-ages venue. Parents bring their kids as young as 5 years old to come and see me.”
The band Se7en Reasons Why will support Dale on New Year’s Eve.
Dale, who the media tabbed “King of the Surf Guitar,” named after his second album, has enjoyed a diverse and fulfilling career.
Dale is the innovator of many of the things our culture takes for granted. He is the creator of the surf rock genre, giving guitar performances a reverb sound that hadn’t been heard in 1960.
He created the “Surfer Stomp,” a phenomenon that started on Balboa Island and caught on throughout the nation. It is said that Dick Dale and His Deltones drew so many surf-crazed teens in 1961 who jumped around in their sandals and sixties style, the noise was deafening.
Dick Dale’s Innovations Beyond Surf Music
He played his new-style surf music so loud, that he was brought in by the James B. Lansing speaker company to devise a more powerful amp than had ever been heard. But Dale feels there’s still a lot he has yet to accomplish.
“They say ‘Why don’t you retire, Dick?'” Dale said. “Well, there are two reasons I don’t retire: Playing music keeps me alive, and my music helps others.”
His hit, “Misirlou,” was the theme for the film Pulp Fiction, bringing his music to a new legion of young fans.
Dale said he has a special place in his heart for the Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip. It’s always been considered The Big Time.
“In the ’60s I performed there and it was exciting,” Dale recalled. “The night was unbeliveable, the owners said they’d never seen a crowd like that. That was the night the late Keith Moon came to see me and we collaborated after that.”
Dale, who was born back east, traveled the world with his guitar and still graces the stage, despite his serious health issues. While onstage, he plows through the pain.
He has learned to control the pain through his martial arts training.
“I’ve been doing martial arts all my life,” Dale says. “And I would ask, ‘Master, why can’t I be the greatest; Why can’t I be ‘unbeatable?’
“The master would answer: ‘You can, but you must give up your life, my son.’
“So I have to tell you, if you’re a master of one, it’s awfuly dull,” Dale said. “You wouldn’t be able to talk to other people about a range of topics.”
Dale still has the will to pursue his music — and his hobbies as well. Maybe he might have had a wonderful career as an engineer, he says, as he loves to work with designs and blueprints — for everything ranging from homes to appliances — and he loves to putter around his humble Palmdale home.
And while he doesn’t brag, he is indeed a master of the sound of the Surf Guitar. And in many respects he has — as his martial arts master said he would have to — he devoted his entire life to that music.
Dale’s health concerns have made it all too clear to him that he is “merely human,” though his music — especially in the day — was out of this world. He admits he has surpassed his own expectations.
Dale believes the good times are good, but don’t be too worried about the low times, he advises.
“Don’t worry about yesterday and don’t worry about tomorrow,” he says. “Don’t worry about yesterday because it’s used. It’s either good or it leaves you feeling bad. And don’t waste time or energy worrying about tomorrow. I could have a stroke and be dead. That’s why they call it the present. It’s a present.”
“I don’t go on stage to say Whoopie for me, I go on stage to play to the people,” he says. “If I see a country hat in the audience I’ll play country; if I see dreadlocks I’ll play Jamaican style. I play for all walks of life.
“Every note I play is to address the people I’m playing to,” Dale said. “There’s no better feeling than bringing the music to the people.”