A tribute to the king of the surf guitar after his recent passing aged 81, hugely influential on Jimi Hendrix and other rock guitarists, the left-hander’s rock guitar style was shaped by his Lebanese background.
Dale, born Richard Monsour in Boston, Massachusetts, to a Lebanese father and a Polish-Belarusian mother, his was as much influenced by his uncle playing the oud and teaching him to to play the tarabaki drum and learning ukelele as watching on TV the pioneering British guitarist Hank Marvin of the Shadows. One of the key differences to other guitarists was how Dale introduced non-western scales into the instrument from his Arabic heritage. Inspired by Gene Krupa's jungle drum rhythms, Dale developed a percussive, heavy-bending style, using heavy-gauge strings to withstand it. Another key point in his career was meeting Leo Fender, visiting him in Balboa California, using and promoting his guitars, especially the Stratocaster, and amps that could cope with his voluminous power. Of course going to California also allowed him to learn to surf.
Let’s Go Trippin’ from 1961, played with his band, the Del-Tones, is regarded as the official first surf guitar single, and Misirlou, also spelled Miserlou from 1962, is his most famous track. Dale was dropped by Capitol Records in 1965, then his career revived somewhat in the 1980s, but Misirlou brought him back to wide acclaim when it was used to open the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s film Pulp Fiction in 1994. It has fascinating origins. Previously we also looked at that track and its many other, Arab-origin versions here.
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