WONDER VALLEY >> In the annals of rock ’n’ roll, legendary guitarist Dick Dale needs no introduction.
Distinguished by his left-handed playing on an inverted Fender Stratocaster, his machine gun staccato picking technique and his thick, reverb-saturated sound, Dale is best known for pioneering his signature “surf music” sound in the 1960s, characterized by hits such as “Let’s Go Trippin’ ” and “Misirlou.”
In 1994, a new generation was introduced to Dale’s music when “Misirlou” blasted during the opening credits of Quentin Tarantino’s neo-noir classic film “Pulp Fiction.”
Dale is bringing his showmanship and musical prowess to The Cave in Big Bear Lake on Saturday.
“I love Big Bear,” Dale, 79, said during a phone interview. “We just love it with a passion because I used to fly up there. We love the outdoors.”
The “we” Dale refers to is he and his wife and publicist, Lana, whom he dotes over and spends more time talking about and praising than himself. The two discuss one another in total adoration and admiration.
For nearly 30 years, the Dales have called the remote Mojave Desert community of Wonder Valley, on the outskirts of Twentynine Palms, home. They own an 81-acre spread with a 2,000-foot-long concrete airstrip and hangars that house Dale’s aircraft, including a twin-tail Cessna Skymaster.
Dale, a licensed pilot, said his days of flying are over due to myriad health problems, including a 52-year battle with rectal cancer that necessitated the removal of 14 inches of intestinal tract, six tumors, seven cysts and part of his stomach. Dale also suffers from renal failure, diabetes, frequent kidney infections, and major bladder and prostate problems.
But Dale, a man whose spirit is as fierce as the wild animals he used to train in the 1960s, refuses to let his maladies keep him from performing. That’s because he can’t. His life depends on it, literally.
Though well insured, Dale’s insurance does not cover necessary medical supplies, including colostomy bags and stoma patches, which need to be changed daily to prevent infection. So, he continues performing to earn the roughly $3,000 a month needed to cover those expenses.
“I want to live,” said Dale, who has never been one to mope and complain about his physical limitations. “Don’t lie back and allow health issues to take over you, because they will and you’ll start feeling sorry for yourself and start saying to yourself, ‘Hurry up and die!’ ”
While Dale has rightfully earned the title “King of the Surf Guitar,” which is also the title of his second album, released in 1963, his wife has grown weary of the moniker, and Dale couldn’t really disagree. That’s because his contribution to the world of music extends far beyond the ubiquitous surf music of Dick Dale and His Del-Tones in the 1960s, featured in the popular “Beach Party” films starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon.
In the late 1950s, Dale worked with inventor Leo Fender, whom Dale considered his “second father,” to perfect the design of the Stratocaster guitar to withstand Dale’s aggressive staccato picking style influenced by the rhythms of jazz percussionist Gene Krupa. Dale also helped Fender engineer a 100-watt amplification system to crank out the volume Dale demanded for his thunderous performances.
Dale has influenced a number of influential rock guitarists in their own right including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eddie Van Halen, and Jimi Hendrix, whom Dale said he met in a Pasadena nightclub in the early 1960s when Hendrix played bass guitar for Little Richard.
Dale said he taught Hendrix how to play slide guitar. Later, when Hendrix was at the peak of his career and learned of Dale’s rectal cancer diagnosis, he tipped his hat to Dale in his song “Third Stone from the Sun,” the lyrics of which are, “To you I shall put an end, then you’ll never hear surf music again.”
Dale credits his survival to a holistic approach to life including a healthy diet, natural remedies and a productive lifestyle. And so long as he’s alive, he will continue performing, even if it means having to be carried onto the stage, as has happened before.
“I told everybody when I die, it’s going to be in one big explosion in body parts on stage,” Dale said.
For more information and to purchase tickets to Saturday’s concert, go to www.thecavebigbear.com. Tickets also can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com or by calling the Cave’s box office at 909-878-0204 between noon and 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.
This article was written by Joe Nelson from the San Bernardino Sun. The Cave did not create this article. Click here for the original article.