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Dick Dale: More Than the King of Surf Guitar

This is one of the most interesting bios I’ve read while doing this site. Dick Dale is most associated with the development of surf music. The profile discusses his mid Eastern roots — which explains why Hava Nagila was part of his repertoire — his influence on Jimi Hendrix and others, his pushing the envelop on amplification and his status as one of the godfathers of heavy metal. This is how it starts:

Dick Dale (born Richard Anthony Monsour on May 4, 1937) is a Lebanese American surf rock guitarist, known as The King of the Surf Guitar. He pioneered the surf music style, drawing on Eastern musical scales and experimenting with reverberation. He worked closely with Fender to produce custom made amplifiers,[1] including the first-ever 100-watt guitar amplifier.[2] He pushed the limits of electric amplification technology, helping to develop new equipment that was capable of producing distorted, “thick, clearly defined tones” at “previously undreamed-of volumes.” The “breakneck speed of his single-note staccato picking technique” as well as his showmanship with the guitar is considered a precursor to heavy metal music, influencing guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen.[1] (Continue Reading…)

AllMusic chimes in:

Dick Dale wasn’t nicknamed “King of the Surf Guitar” for nothing: he pretty much invented the style single-handedly, and no matter who copied or expanded upon his blueprint, he remained the fieriest, most technically gifted musician the genre ever produced. Dale‘s pioneering use of Middle Eastern and Eastern European melodies (learned organically through his familial heritage) was among the first in any genre of American popular music, and predated the teaching of such “exotic” scales in guitar-shredder academies by two decades. The breakneck speed of his single-note staccato picking technique was unrivalled until it entered the repertoires of metal virtuosos like Eddie Van Halen, and his wild showmanship made an enormous impression on the young Jimi Hendrix. But those aren’t the only reasons Dale was once called the father of heavy metal. Working closely with the Fender company, Dalecontinually pushed the limits of electric amplification technology, helping to develop new equipment that was capable of producing the thick, clearly defined tones he heard in his head, at the previously undreamed-of volumes he demanded. He also pioneered the use of portable reverb effects, creating a signature sonic texture for surf instrumentals. And, if all that weren’t enough, Dale managed to redefine his instrument while essentially playing it upside-down and backwards — he switched sides in order to play left-handed, but without re-stringing it (as Hendrix later did). (Continue Reading…)

Here is Dale’s site and an interesting clip of his views on the music business. Above is a medly comprised of Surfin’ & Swingin’, Misirlou and Wedge. Below is Hava Nagila. 

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