Richard Anthony Mansour, child of a Lebanese father and a mother with Polish-Belarusian roots, died on 16 March 2019 at age 81.
Known to the world as Dick Dale, the guitarist credited as a founding force in the creation of surf guitar had a sound that was big on reverb and steeped in middle-eastern scales.
In the early sixties he was famous for the dances—called ‘Stomps’—that brought hundreds of teens from the Balboa region of California to the local dance halls.
A recording contract followed and a series of mostly instrumental singles, several of which proved both popular and enduring. Chief amongst these was “Miserlou” (aka “Misirlou”), a driving, horn-blasting wave of guitar rock that was popular on release in September 1962 and gained another life when it appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction in 1994.
The King of Surf Guitar (a fitting epithet, epitaph and the title of Dale’s second album) may not have been widely known outside California during the few brief years when surf music was popular, but Dick continued to play, appearing in a couple of contemporaneous surf movies as well as on Ed Sullivan’s famous TV show. Fascinatingly, Dale reappeared in the 1987 surf movie Back To The Beach, performing “Pipeline” alongside Stevie Ray Vaughan.
The compilation album King Of The Surf Guitar, released on vinyl by Rock Beat Records in 2012, is a neat little compilation of fourteen of Dale’s sides. Clocking in at a concise 34 minutes, it’s a fun, energetic blast of foam-flecked rock that will make you stomp and smile.
Vale, Dick Dale.