Dick Dale: Surf Guitar's King Still Rules


KEXP has welcomed many amazing artists to our humble radio station, but a wave of excitement still swept through the offices leading up to this in-studio performance from the legendary guitarist Dick Dale. This is the man who pretty much invented "surf rock." This is the man who helped Leo Fender develop some of the key innovations that revolutionized the electric guitar and amplifier. This is a man who has beaten cancer twice, and at 72, still rocks with a fury. This is a man who's owned tigers.

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When it came time for Dale to play, nearly every desk at KEXP was empty, as our staff squeezed into our engineering booth and nearby production room, angling for a glimpse at the king of surf guitar. With his long gray hair pulled back in a ponytail, Dale proceeded to absolutely shred on his Fender, displaying the inventive playing style that even influenced Jimi Hendrix. He soared through rip-roaring renditions of "Nitro" and his signature track "Miserlou," and concluded with a soul-stirring take on "Amazing Grace," which left everyone in the studio awestruck.

Part of what I love about this session is the way it transcends all ages and musical tastes. After it aired, I got emails from older folks who remember Dick Dale from the 1960s, and from younger kids who were blown away and inspired by his wise words and independent-minded message. Dale is as radical as ever, and still blows minds one riff at a time.

Engineered by Kevin Suggs.

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