Dick Dale

Dick Dale

It's almost an insult to the artist when a flyer promoting a Dick Dale concert refers to him as a "guitar legend" and then goes on to note, "as heard in Pulp Fiction and as remixed by Black Eyed Peas." About time the kiddies turned off MTV.

A brief history lesson: In the Fifties, surfing was gaining popularity in Southern California, but the guitar, still considered an instrument of the Devil, was largely shunned in concert halls. Dale, a lefty who played right-handed guitars upside down, was about to combine his passion for the two to create a new style of music, thereby making him the King of Surf Guitar.


Dick Dale

Dick Dale performs Wednesday, February 14, at Churchill's, 5501 NE 2nd Ave, Miami. Doors open at 9:00 p.m. Tickets cost $20. Call 305-757-1807.

Largely influenced by jazz drummer Gene Krupa, Dale's sound blends Middle Eastern and Latin influences with lightning-fast picking and a big sound that gave way to the invention of Fender power amps. The thickness in Dale's playing comes from heavy guitar strings and his signature reverb, which became the trademark of his second album, King of the Surf Guitar.

Dale's popularity peaked during the early Sixties, but he was more a local hero than a national icon. His famous shows at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa, California, brought in thousands, but after a bout with cancer, Dale retired.

Despite this, his music has been highly influential, especially in the punk realm, with bands such as the Cramps and the Dead Kennedys paying homage to Dale with surf-rock flourishes. Of course, Quentin Tarantino's role in popularizing Dale can't be overlooked, because his most popular song, "Miserlou," was the theme for Pulp Fiction.

Fans who loved Dale long before John Travolta's comeback have happily granted themselves a special tag: Dickheads. — Alexandra Quiñones


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