Dick Dale, the King of Surf Guitar and one of the most influential guitarists of the 20th century, has passed away at the age of 81.
A surfing enthusiast in his teens, Dale rose to fame in the early 1960s for the distinctive playing style he created to invoke the notion of riding a surfboard. By combining heavy amounts of reverb, tremolo and staccato picking with an emphasis on Middle Eastern melodic phrasings, Dale effectively pioneered the genre of 'surf rock.' Dale also notably performed as a left-handed guitarist on a normally strung right-handed Fender Stratocaster, with the reversed pickup configuration adding to his distinctive guitar tone.
Dale also worked closely with Leo Fender to develop the company's first 100 watt amplifier, and contributed ideas towards the development of the Fender Stratocaster throughout the '60s. As the bandleader of the Del Tones, Dale's surf rock sound proved to be one of the most influential factors in the development of rock, psychedelia and punk, with the likes of The Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen and more describing him as a prominent influence.
Dale's work has also been significantly recognised and celebrated throughout pop culture and various other musical genres. His single 'MIsirlou' was famously used in the opening credits of cult '90s film Pulp Fiction, and was sampled by The Black Eyed Peas in their smash '00s hit 'Pump It.'
Rest easy, Dick.
(Feature image via Fender.)