Dick Dale is one of the originators of the ’60s surf-music phenomenon.
Born Richard Anthony Monsour on May 4, 1937, in Boston, Mass., Dale played piano, trumpet, harmonica and ukulele as a child, before turning to the guitar.
Dale loved country music before moving to Southern California. After a DJ suggested his new name, Dale gigged as a country guitarist. He had a small part in the Marilyn Monroe film “Let’s Make Love.” His first record was “Ooh-Whee-Marie” on his father’s Deltone Records. Dale named his band the Del-tones after the label. Another single, the instrumental “Let’s Go Trippin'” (1961), has often been labeled the first surf record. The Beach Boys’ first hit was still months away.
Dale developed his signature staccato slide down the guitar strings (which he has said he created to capture the feel of surfing) and featured heavy reverb on “Misirlou” (RealAudio excerpt), which influenced Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys and other young guitarists of the period. The track was later rediscovered, as was Dale, when it was featured in the hit 1994 film “Pulp Fiction.”
After 1965, Dale recorded infrequently. He re-formed his band in 1970 and toured through the ’80s. Dale and guitar great Stevie Ray Vaughan were nominated for a Grammy Award for their version of the surf classic “Pipeline,” which was featured in the 1987 Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello movie “Back to the Beach.” The critically acclaimed Tribal Thunder (1993) featured “Nitro,” for which Dale filmed his first music-video clip.
Dale’s most recent LP of new material is Calling Up Spirits (1996).
Other birthdays Thursday: Ed Cassidy (Spirit), 76; Georg Wadenius (Blood, Sweat and Tears), 55; Mike Dirnt (Green Day), 28; and Ronnie Bond (Troggs), 1943–1992.