Guitarist and pioneer of the “surf rock” genre, Dick Dale, known famously for recording the hit song “Misirlou,” which appeared as the opening song for the film Pulp Fiction, has died at 81.

Dale was born Richard Anthony Monsour in Boston and moved to Southern California as a teenager and quickly discovered his love for surfing and rock music. His band, the Del-Tones, played weekend shows during the late 1950s at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Newport Beach. Dale’s signature reverb-heavy sound was largely influenced by the sound of crashing waves and Middle Eastern music.


Dale’s “Lets Go Trippin,” first played in 1961, is viewed as the first surf-rock song. His debut album Surfer Choice, which came out in 1962, earned him an Ed Sullivan Show appearance.

Dale’s career was frequently interrupted by health scares, and despite the brief popularity of surf rock, Dale was still performing as recently as December.

“I can’t stop touring because I will die. Physically and literally, I will die,” Dale told the Pittsburgh’s City Paper. “Sure, I’d love to stay home and build ships in a bottle and spend time with my wife in Hawaii, but I have to perform to save my life.”

Dale’s rectal cancer returned exacerbating his other issues which caused him excruciatingly pain. Touring was his only source of income and his only way to pay his medical bills.

“I have to raise $3,000 every month to pay for the medical supplies I need to stay alive, and that’s on top of the insurance that I pay for,” Dale said in a statement.

Dale died Saturday night. A former bandmate and drummer Dusty Watson said Dale died of “heart-related issues.”

Dale was a pioneer in the music industry and a big influence on the Beach Boys, the Cure, Ed Jimi Hendrix, and many others.

“He taught me to live your life the way you want to live it,” said Sam Bolle, a former bandmate and bassist. “He definitely did that with vigor and ferociousness of spirit. I’m so happy and stoked that he was able to entertain and bring joy to people’s lives as long as he did.”