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.



  1. Wonderful Bruce. Although I always used to get him mixed up with Link Wray.

    Ps. I actually misread the title as ‘king of the smurf guitar’. Now that would be cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d buy King of the Smurf Guitar! Blue vinyl, natch.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Smurfin’ USA?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Better than ‘Ride the wild Smurf’.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d always thought it was strange that a ‘California surfer dude’ had written a song with such an exotic Eastern-sounding scale. So it all makes sense to learn of his Lebanese heritage and of Misirlou’s origins in the Mediterranean basin! ‘Misir’ is Turkish for ‘Egypt’! Tarantino’s use of popular songs in Pulp Fiction is fabulous, and Miserlou definitely opened things with a bang.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, that language contribution is fantastic, JDB. Thank you!
      I have to say, I’m a sucker for some eastern influence in western popular music. Perhaps a series…!


  3. Checked out that “Back to the Beach” clip. Great jam, lousy-looking movie,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, a shameless attempt to cash in on nostalgia, I suspect.


  4. Glad to see you give him a tribute, Bruce. I was sad to read in his obit that he had only been playing still in his last year because of medical bills. He was certainly talented. – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed, Marty. We’ve heard that sad story before with artists.
      It’s also tragic that the world’s richest country doesn’t care enough about its citizens to have a national health scheme.
      (This political broadcast was brought to you from a country with a Federal election in three weeks!)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. With such a kindred view, I’m going to work on immigration papers for you, stat. We need more voters like you here!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. LOL (and also sad!)
          Cheers mate.


  5. 14 tracks just ain’t enough sometimes, huh? I was only really familiar with his early stuff… and it’s all absolutely wonderful. Surf guitar seems so limiting a label when you consider the different flavours in his playing. Anyhoo, I guess this is the LP I’ll be looking to nab.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s great fun, J. Though I have to say that after fourteen good rides when I’m body surfing, I’m well and truly ready for the beach again. This is a bit the same, except one can return tomorrow and be assured that the surf will be up again. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yup. When they were younger I gave my sons some DD to counter balance the other beach music. ‘Revenge Of The Surf Instrumentals’ and ‘The Best of DD and His Deltones’ plus a few others as they got big. I came across a cassette ‘The Tigers Loose’ and gave that a spin. Dick in a club doing his thing. You knew what you were going to get and that was the idea. Good one Bruce. Surfs Up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good stories. Cheers, CB.

      Liked by 1 person

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