Living guitar legend, Dick Dale, refers to Jimi Hendrix casually in conversation as “Jim”, and recollects having taught him a thing or two about playing slides on his guitar. As a child, Liberace foreshadowed Dale’s success by telling the guitarist’s father “that young fella is going to be a star.”
Dick Dale, 76, began impressing people with his extraordinary talent from a young age, and has gone on to create some of the most profoundly inspiring music to date. His guitar sound infamously reminiscent of the California surf scene, Dale has been noted as “The King of the Surf Guitar,” as one of the founders of the surf movement. With close to six decades of musical accolades under his belt, Dale is returning to Sin City for another round of performance magic Friday at the Hard Rock Live inside the Hard Rock Café on the Strip.
Las Vegas rockabilly band The Delta Bombers will open the show.
To say that Dale has inspired generations of modern music is an understatement. Crediting his trademark rhythmic rapid guitar picking to the influence of jazz drum techniques, he admits to having procured his special sound by listening to Gene Krupa drum solos. It was his transcription of staccato drum playing, and a love of surfing in the ocean, that merged to produce legendary hits such as “Let’s Go Trippin’” by Dick Dale and the Del-Tones in 1961. Giving his style of music the “Dick Dale sound” label meant that the power of Dale’s influence had proven to be even bigger than his sound.
Dale began as an avid surfer, and spending so much time in the ocean, his artistic style became synonymous with the way his peers perceived him. The power of his guitar and the force of his fast playing on heavily gauged strings (18-20 gauge) put Dale in a class all by himself.
Leo Fender took a liking to a young Dale, and began handcrafting amplifiers and guitars to accommodate his innovative sound. Fender watched Dale perform live in the beginning of his career inside the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa, Calif. Having resurrected the prominence of this Southern California venue, Dale was notably too loud of a guitar player for the amplifiers he was using on stage. It was then that Fender knew he’d have to build a loudspeaker heavy enough to harness Dale’s powerful playing. A legendary friendship (and tone) was born.
Citing Las Vegas as a place that inspired some of the highlights of his career, Dale anticipates his upcoming return to Sin City in mid-December.
“Vegas has tremendous memories for me,” Dale said.
After Dale’s performance at the Viva Las Vegas on March 30, he met hundreds of fans during an epic after-show signing session that lasted over five hours.
After decades of affecting audiences far and wide, what does a living legend like Dale do to keep motivated to perform?
“No drugs, no booze, and drink plenty of water!” are his guidelines for longevity. Dale also stopped eating red meat in 1972, and credits his healthy habits to his ability to maintain an active lifestyle.
Diagnosed with rectal cancer in the mid-1960s with a recurrence in 2008, Dale is an ongoing supporter of clean living, clean eating, and an advocate for animals and the environment. Along with his wife, Lana Dale, the devoted couple do their part in saving the planet.The Dales care for various breeds of birds, wild coyotes, dogs, cats, and other animals. Lana, a trained nurse, supports Dick’s lust for clean living, and she has been credited to saving his life on more than one occasion.
“If it weren’t for my wife, I wouldn’t be here,” he said.
Dale’s music leaves listeners with an appreciation for fluid movement, and his love for innovation can be summed up in one of his beloved expressions: “The body follows the mind.” And so it does. CL