Surf master Dick Dale on the road again


[Editor's note: Climb inside our rainbow time machine, people, cause it's '60s week in the NUVO music section. For much more Dick Dale, check out this extensive Q&A with Dale by Patrick O'Connor of the Maderia from last summer.]

"Let's begin at the beginning, first of all," Lana Dale says when I email her a few questions for her beloved husband Dick Dale.

Lana, who handles press and a good deal of other business concerns for legendary surf rocker Dick ("Misirlou," "Let's Go Trippin'," "Mr. Eliminator") says she and Dick are working on a book and DVD about the surf rocker's life, which from all accounts will be a massive undertaking. Because Dick Dale has lived a life, man.

We'll let Lana tell you a bit of it:

"Dale pioneered and created surf rock music in 1955 marking 60-plus years in the business. His dad ran the business in the beginning as Dick started at townhall parties and played old country music, which was his true love. From there, the Beach Boys, Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, The Safaris and Jan and Dean had opened for Dick. Dick's father paid the Beach Boys $10 to open to get their start in the day. Dick pushed Richie Valens out on stage. He was scared to death to perform. ... He loves the Beach Boys and is very fond of Brian Wilson and Mike Love, as they always looked up to him and spoke highly of him.

"Dick then reopened the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa California in the '50s after all the big bands and made it a place for young people to come and enjoy dancing, singing and getting into [his music].

"Dick's parents supported his music in every way. His mother was at all shows and his father ran the business and controlled everything and handled all money until his death in 2001 which left Dick with practically nothing sad to say...We do not elaborate on that though.

"People like Mick Jagger, Stevie Ray Vaughn – who started playing music on his guitar after hearing Surfer's Choice album in 1963 – worship Dick by the way. Steven Tyler loves Dick, and Bruce Springsteen, and I can go on all day. Dick is self-taught as he plays upside down backwards left-handed. And a bit of trivia: He taught Jimi Hendrix the slide on the Strat guitar. ... Leo Fender and he pioneered the strap guitar, as Dick was Leo's guinea pig. Leo Fender was like a second father to Dick and we all loved him."

Dick Dale stopped at the Melody Inn on Monday night as part of his 25-city tour. Touring isn't easy for Dale, who comments publicly on his health struggles (including tour bouts of cancer, diabetes and a back injury) frequently. Regardless, he's known for signing autographs for adoring fans for hours – including at huge shows like the Viva Las Vegas rockabilly car show extravaganza, where Lana says, lines stretched for five hours. The Dales will return to that event in 2016.


Editor of NUVO Newsweekly since 2016; formerly Music Editor. Lover of justice, cats, local hip-hop, axe-throwing, sailing and pies. Hater of fake news.

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