King of surf guitar talks road trips, 'Pulp Fiction', Tucson
The legendary “King of the Surf Guitar” Dick Dale will be at Hotel Congress this Saturday to play an all-ages show. We got the chance to talk to him about his music career, being in “Pulp Fiction” and road-tripping through Arizona with his wife.
KAMP: When you first started playing music in 1955, you had a radio show in Santa Ana called Dick Dale and the Rhythm Ranglers. Since we are calling from a college radio station, I’m curious to hear a little more about your time on the radio and how radio has had an impact on your career overall
Dale: What really got me back on tour, since I had been doing this since ’55 and got the records moving again, was getting phone calls from the colleges and College Music Journal charts. The first one came from Canada, then Florida, and so on. And so I was on the top of the CMJ charts and they put all of my songs of the college playlists. I would drive to colleges and sit with them and talk with them on their shows. It was the CMJ that revived my career. That was the beginning again.
The FCC even did an investigation on some of these stations because they thought I owned them and told them to play all my songs. It’s grassroots people, the 5,000 watt stations … These are the people that mean so much to me. I’m more known all over the world now that I was when I first started.
Then before you know it, I was asked to be in “Pulp Fiction” and asked to be in commercials from around the world. When Quentin Tarantino and I got together, he told me that he had been listening to my music for years. He wanted to create a masterpiece of a movie, and he said he wanted to compliment what he thought was my masterpiece, “Misirlou.” I said, “Yeah, go for it!” He’s a rebel of a guy, and I’ve been a rebel in the music system. I always tell the kids not to sign to labels, and I always get in trouble for that.
This isn’t Dale’s first time in Tucson. The musician and his wife have a special love for the city.
KAMP: I know you come through Tucson quite frequently. What brings you back here on each of your tours?
Dale: I used to fly my plane into Tucson often, and I love the area. It was also so nice for me what they did at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. Arizona has so much history to it, and we love going through every time I finish my tour. We love the formation in the rocks and the whole thing in a nutshell. It’s a heartwarming thing going through the country. I love all the things we see. We both love it. Lana and I both love the same thing. We’ll play Patsy Cline songs all the way from Virginia to California, or Vince Gill’s song “The Two of Us,” but the band members fly home, because they can’t stand listening to the same songs all the time. But Lana and I are so much the same, and we love it.
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