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.
Rest In Peace Dick Dale... True original, So Cal Surf, American icon and a gentlemen of the highest order. pic.twitter.com/G3Uw5Xk055March 17, 2019
Thank you Dick Dale for all the music 💔 https://t.co/RN9MeTpOtPMarch 17, 2019
RIP Dick Dale - Father of the Surf Guitar. We all owe you. Rock on. Bri https://t.co/lxeDGCCOnwMarch 18, 2019
I’m sorry to hear about Dick Dale passing. Dick’s guitar playing was a big influence on all of us, and we covered “Misirlou” on our Surfin’ USA album in ‘63. Love & Mercy to Dick’s family. pic.twitter.com/QPd2wzo7zBMarch 18, 2019
Dick Dale, who will forever remain a guitar God. May his spirit rest in peace. We will meet again brother. pic.twitter.com/tf77lcQGWyMarch 18, 2019
RIP Dick DaleMarch 17, 2019