King of the Surf Guitar

From The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson:

I’m sorry to hear about Dick Dale passing. Dick’s guitar playing was a big influence on all of us, and we covered “Misirlou” on our Surfin’ USA album in ‘63. Love & Mercy to Dick’s family.

Dick Dale, “the King of the Surf Guitar,” has died at the age of 81.

California Rocker first reported that Dale died Sunday. His bassist Sam Bolle confirmed Dale’s death to the Guardian. No cause of death was revealed, but the guitarist suffered from health issues in recent years.

“I can’t stop touring because I will die. 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.”


Jimi Hendrix, like Dale, would play his Stratocaster left-handed. Eddie Van Halen would later cite Dale and surf music as one of his prime inspirations, with the Van Halen guitarist modeling his method on Dale’s quick-picking. Stevie Ray Vaughan, another disciple, would team with Dale on a cover of the Chantays’ surf classic “Pipeline” in 1986; the rendition would be nominated for Best Rock Instrumental Performance at the 1987 Grammys.

In addition to influencing a generation of guitar gods, Dale enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in the Nineties thanks to the placement of “Miserlou” in Pulp Fiction.

“Dick Dale was truly the King of Surf Guitar. Before the Beach Boys gave this new genre lyrics, Dick Dale was providing the instrumental soundtrack to the surfing experience. He influenced everybody!” Stevie Van Zandt said in a statement.

Rolling Stone

Dick Dale, King of the Surf Guitar, Dead at 81

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