Dick Dale, The King of Surf Guitar, has died aged 81

(Image credit: Jordi Vidal/Redferns)

Dick Dale, the man known as The King of Surf Guitar, has died at the age of 81, it’s being reported. Dale's live bassist, Sam Bolle, confirmed the news to The Guardian

Dale, who enjoyed a massive career resurgence when his version of Misirlou was used by Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction, was a true pioneer, and known as the founding father of surf guitar music. He was one of the first guitarists to play in non-Western scales - he was of Lebanese descent, and had a strong interest in Arabic music - and worked with Leo Fender to create the custom amplifiers that were key to his sound. Indeed, he’s credited with helping to create the first-ever 100-watt guitar amp.

Dale also led the way in his use of reverb, and was known for his staccato picking technique. Indeed, his heavy style and tone are often cited as forerunners to heavy metal; he influenced countless guitarists, including the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen.

Dale was also known for his upside-down Fender Stratocaster, a quirk that came as a consequence of being a left-hander who was initially forced to play a right-handed guitar. He eventually switched to a left-handed model, but didn’t restring it, hence his unconventional setup.

Social media tributes are now flowing in for The King of Surf Guitar.

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.