You may not know Dick Dale by sight, but you would recognize his “surf guitar” rock n’ roll sound anywhere. He invented the genre of music characterized by non-western scales traversing a landscape of heavy reverb and “choppy wave” rhythms. His opus “Miserlou” emerged as a classic with a new generation when it was featured prominently in the movie “Pulp Fiction”. But he was already making waves in the early 60’s by showcasing his west-coast surfer style on the Ed Sullivan show and blowing up so many amps that Leo Fender had to specially design a series of high-watt amps just for Dale.
Dick Dale is not a man whose infamy has eluded him. He talks in the third person and makes grand sweeping statements about his genius. He comes off as the kind of guy who would throw words like “babes” and “bitchin” around even if Grandma was in the room. But to his credit he has had a fabulous career. He never signed with a label and instead opted to start his own – thus retaining the rights to his music in perpetuity. This has enabled him to be independently wealthy long after his prime and do stupid things like let his pet tiger play with his infant son. Despite this shocking act of impaired judgment, Dick Dale has never used drugs or alcohol in his life.
You can watch him play Miserlou and tell the story of meeting Quentin Tarantino on YouTube.