Surf rock pioneer Dick Dale has died at the age of 81.
The guitarist, who is best known for 1962’s ‘Miserlou’, developed the hugely influential sound in the early 1960s by mixing rock with the Middle Eastern influences that he had inherited from his father, who was a Lebanese immigrant.
His fifth song, 1961’s ‘Let’s Go Trippin’, is widely considered to be the first surf rock instrumental and is believed to have sparked its initial popularity. As The Guardian reports, a second of wave of popularity later emerged when The Beach Boys employed “vocal” surf rock on some of their biggest hits.
He also became a huge influence on acts such as Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen, with his sound being often viewed as a precursor to both punk rock and heavy metal.
The legend and king of surf guitar has passed. Condolences to family and friends and all those who were touched by your undeniable presence. Rest In Peace friend.
While ‘Miserlou’ became a huge hit for Dale after he performed it on the Ed Sullivan show in 1962, the song later achieved a second wave of popularity when it became the theme music to Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction in 1994.
“Having Misirlou as your opening credit, it’s just so intense,” Tarantino previously told Rolling Stone. “It just says you’re watching an epic, you’re watching a big, ol’ movie … It just throws down a gauntlet that the movie now has to live up to.”
Dale’s cause of death is yet to be confirmed, although he was forced to continue touring until his death in order to settle a string of costly medical bills.
Paying tribute, friend and former bandmate Dusty Watson wrote on Facebook, “The legend and king of surf guitar has passed. Condolences to family and friends and all those who were touched by your undeniable presence. Rest In Peace friend.”
Other high profile tributes came from Queen’s Brian May, who hailed Dale as “father of the surf guitar”.
“Check out his early hit ‘Miserlou’. Wild !!! I wish I’d met him. But truly we all benefit from his trailblazing,” he wrote.
Public Enemy rapper Chuck D added: “Dick Dale was dope.”