Dick Dale the King of Surf Guitar Talks Blowouts, Wipeouts, and Animal Screams

Categories: Q&A
Warning: Just five minutes with 74-year-old surf rocker Dick Dale and his infamous Fender Strat could cause spilled Mai Tais, random outbreaks of retro dance moves (e.g. the Swim or Splashin' Round), and lifelong hearing loss.

But that doesn't mean Dick's a brutal dude. In fact, he's basically a nice guy who likes to chill out, ride waves, and kick back with exotic animals. It's just that whenever he gets a guitar in his hands, he can't help himself from playing insanely loud and brutally hard, blowing up amps, and bursting eardrums.

Last week, Crossfade spoke with the legendary axe man about Hank Williams, big waves, ukeleles, lions, tigers, leopards, Latino tunes, and how to make people's ears bleed.

Crossfade: Why did Dick Dale originally dive into music?

Dick Dale: I always wanted to be a cowboy singer. I listened to Hank Williams. And I was raised on big band and Gene Krupa. That's why I play now with that heavy staccato style like I'm playing drums. I actually started playing on soup cans and flowerpots while listening to big band.

When did you pick up the guitar?

It was an ukelele, back when I was in kindergarten. I was reading a Superman magazine and it said: Sell so many jars of Noxzema skin cream and we'll send you this ukelele. And I got it. But it was a piece of crap, so I filled a red wagon with a bunch of Pepsi and Coke bottles, went down to the store, cashed them, and I got a basic ukelele for $6.

Later, I got a regular acoustic guitar. When I would stay at my grandma and grandpa's farm, I would go walking through the swamps with one of my buddies in Whitman, Massachussetts, and there were a lot of these guys strumming. It was like in Deliverance. But it was pretty wild. And my buddy had a guitar for sale, so he sold it to me for $8, and I paid him 25 or 50 cents a week.

And when I started playing the guitar, I used the ukelele chords. Plus, I held the ukelele upside-down when I first got it. You know, the book didn't say: Turn it the other way, stupid. You're left handed. And that's how I started playing upside-down backwards 'cause all my rhythm was in my left hand.

At what point did you move out to the West Coast from Massachussetts?

In 1954, I finished 11th grade and said so long to everybody because my father was hired by Howard Hughes to come to California. He was a precision machinist. And so that's where I ended up finishing my senior year of high school.

Then surfing became my life. And at the same time, I was raising over 40 different species of animals -- lions, tigers, elephants, leopards, hawks, eagles, everything. You name it and I've raised them to preserve their breeds before the poachers killed them all into extinction. That was my life. I had all these animals and I lived with them, slept with them, ate with them. I surfed from sunup to sundown. And I played my guitar in between.

Location Info


The Vagabond - CLOSED

30 NE 14th St., Miami, FL

Category: Music

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Dick's skill in guitar is very amazing. Many rock star and other musicians have found guitar to be their treasure. Many musicians or music artists start out with only a guitar as their companion. So if you wanted to be a star like them, grab a guitar and start composing. If you don't know how to play yet, there are lots of guitar lessons available online for you to try.-------------Susieexpert on Jamorama Review

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Individualized and uncomplicated instructions for chord progressions, tablatures, and other intricacies of guitar jazz lessons are readily obtainable now online.  For music lovers and guitar enthusiasts, this new trend of the growing literature for Jazz online attests to the need for in-depth exploration of a passion that has positively impacted multitudes of guitar enthusiasts.

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If learning how to play the acoustic guitar tops your bucket list, it may be time to enroll yourself in acoustic guitar lessons. While you may have the guitar on hand and the sheet music to play, having everything you need does not mean anything unless you learn the essential skills necessary to read sheet music and play the guitar.

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While videos can be viewed on YouTube, having a live instructor makes it easier to mimic the technique of the professionals. If you are receiving one-on-one lessons, the instructor may play in sync with you to point out areas where your skills can be refined. Acoustic guitar lessons are also available in group settings. When you are in a group setting, you can depend on fellow students to ask questions you may have never thought of. By getting the answers to these questions, you can perfect your playing skills and knowledge.

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There are many persons today that are considered asmasters on playing guitars. Dick Dale had made his name into this area startingin the past decades and even until now. He will serve as inspirations for thosewho want to follow Dick Dale's footsteps.

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