Dick Dale, the king of the surf guitar, died Saturday at the age of 81. I discovered his music late, when I listened to his comeback CD Tribal Thunder out of curiosity. Ever since then his spring reverb-infused twang has featured regularly in the various playlists I put together.
Dale never hit the top 40. His biggest hit, “Let’s Go Trippin’,” only went as high as #60 on the charts fifty-eight years ago. So what? Quality is at best weakly correlated with popularity.1
His signature tune was the eastern Mediterranean tune “Miserlou.”
Dale often did covers of other people’s music. When he performed them, they became Dick Dale songs, no matter who wrote them. The following were once Link Wray and Johnny Cash tunes.