Dick Dale told interviewers he wanted to “die onstage with an explosion of body parts.” He didn’t manage that, instead dying at his home from heart failure. But as the undisputed king of surf guitar, he’d done enough entertaining on stages to satisfy all punters – such was his propensity for loudness that Fender had to create a special amp for him. He’d managed to blow out an estimated 50 in the opening few years of his career.
His most famous work is the surf guitar take on the traditional Middle Eastern song “Miserlou”, which was an influence on the likes of Jimi Hendrix and achieved renewed fame in the 1990s when Quentin Tarantino made it the defining soundtrack cut from Pulp Fiction. Still, that royalty money wasn’t enough: Dale had to keep playing right up until his death, thanks to the medical costs he incurred from two battles with rectal cancer and assorted surfing injuries – one of which nearly led to his leg being amputated.