Sonic Gems: Dick Dale & His Del-Tones – King of the Surf Guitar

“There was a tremendous amount of power I felt while surfing and that feeling of power was simply transferred into my guitar when I was playing surf music. The style of music I developed, to me at the time, was the feeling I got when I was out there on the waves. It was good rambling feeling I got when I was locked in a tube with the white water caving in over my head. I was trying to project the power of the ocean to the people. I couldn’t get the feeling by singing, so the music took an instrumental form .”  – Dick Dale

Dick Dale fka Richard Anthony Mansour was born May 4, 1937 is renown for pioneering the surf rock music style.  What isn’t usually realized is how much this draws on Middle Eastern modalities.  What is instantly recognized is the experimentation with reverberation.  Dick Dale worked closely with Fender to produce the first 100 watt guitar amplifier and pushed the limits of amplification technology producing distortion that spread across the broad spectrum of rock music.  The speed of his single note staccato picking technique and showmanship was a precursor to heavy metal and influenced guitarists from Eddie Van Halen and Jimi Hendrix.

King of the Surf Guitar is the second studio album by Dick Dale and His Del-Tones.  It was released in 1963.  It features original and cover songs.  Fascinating to me as a life long surfer but more importantly as a guy who has played guitar since I was five or six is to find the following names listed in the credits:  Glenn Campbell and Barney Kessel.  Other names that rose to the cream of the crop are Hal Blaine and Leon Russell.    The cover of Hava Nagila is completely awesome.

I hope there are no questions when Aloha Promises Forever rates this album a 10 out of 10.   Could there be any question on that?  Outstanding unparalleled musicianship coupled with a surfer’s sensibility.  It probably doesn’t hurt that while the Beach Boys introduced surf music to me, Dick Dale brought it to its fullest light.   I will always remember and treasure the day while out exploring Newport Beach on my own as a young kid, I stumbled across the Rendezvous and learned of this legend.   Initially, I will admit to being dismissive that any surf music was better than the Beach Boys.  Then I listened to the opening riffs of Miserlou and was immediately hooked.  I have been a lifelong fan since.  The things learned from wandering stray from my family, right?

You may listen to King of the Surf Guitar  here:






About alohapromisesforever

Writer, poet, musician, surfer, father of two princesses.
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