Tagged: Surf Guitar

 Dick Dale Burns Down The House



One question that frequently comes up when interviewing a performer, is “who influenced your style?” In the case of Dick Dale, he pretty much invented his own style by himself. His band, the Del Tones, was a pretty average early rock band in the early ’60s, but it wasn’t long before Dale started trying new things.

To begin with, he’s a lefty playing a left-hand guitar which is strung like a right-hand guitar. You can’t just take a few lessons and learn how to play a guitar that way. You have to teach yourself. And just as bizarre, the upside-down strung instrument has big fat, almost piano wire strings. Fender custom makes Dale’s guitars with stronger necks to withstand the extra tension.

Then there is his unconventional full-on shredding style. It varies from loud to louder, from fast to faster. Full of energy, flowing out of him like an endless dynamo. Listening to his more contemporary arrangement of his famous “Mizerlou,” compared to his early version (with strings!), you would think they are two different artists. Dick Dale continues to evolve and look forward, while still getting some mileage out of early works.

It is no exaggeration to say he is unique.

Other contemporary guitar players have their own voices too, but it would be fair to say Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton all were blues-rock influenced players. Mark Knopfler is a Certified Guitar Player, anointed as such by the great Chet Atkins, and they both were strongly influenced by Western guitar styles.

But what influenced Dick Dale? Perhaps the waves of the ocean as he surfed and connected with nature in Southern California? He is pretty much a self-invented musician, still going strong well into his ’70s.

Keep your eyes peeled for a Dick Dale concert. He still tours at least 6 months out of the year, and usually plays smaller clubs, so you can see and hear him up close! The photos above were made by Robert D. Tonsing at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, California, August 24, 2007.