Is Rock Dying or Already Dead? – Lethal Threat
I was saddened to hear the King of the Surf Guitar, Dick Dale, had died last week at the age of 81. Dale would often say that it was he and not the Beach Boys who invented surf music and many critics agreed.
An avid surfer, Dale started building a devoted Los Angles fan base of fans in the late 1950’s. His fingering style was so frenetic that he would be shredding guitar picks during songs. His moto was “Better shred than dead”. Dale said he developed his musical style when he sought to merge the sounds of the crashing waves he heard while surfing with melodies inspired by the rockabilly music he loved. He achieved his signature sound by pounding the strings rather than plucking them.
His career had many ups and downs. Movie director, Quentin Tarantino, selected Dale’s “Miserlou” as the theme song of his 1994 film “Pulp Fiction”. That helped pull the guitarist back into the pop culture spotlight. Dale continued to tour right up to his death. He would say if he did not tour he would not be able to pay for his cancer treatments that kept him alive until last week. I was lucky enough to see him perform on a booze cruise ship that sailed around Manhattan a couple of years ago. He was backed up by a drummer and bass player, and just shredded on guitar from start to finish. A true guitar legend that did not get the fame or credit he deserved.
Dick Dale pioneered a distinct style and sound of guitar playing. One of many musicians from the 50’s to the 90’s, who created music to this day, that has not been surpassed. Music is the sound track of one’s life. I grew up with Rock n Roll, everything from Elvis to Metallica. It was all about the love of good music, no matter what genre it was. So having gone to hundreds of concerts in my lifetime, it is sad to see so many music legends dying or retiring from music. Slayer, Kiss, Lynyrd Skynrd, Deep Purple, Ozzy Osbourne, Elton John, Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) Bob Seger and many more are all on farewell tours. not to mention legendary bands over the last couple of years that have called it quits either due to a death of a band member or retiring from the road and touring.
There are still plenty of rock / metal bands around but very few have the originality of a Dick Dale or a Black Sabbath. I am truly grateful to have seen many rock legends in concert before their deaths at their peak. Freddie Mercury with Queen at Madison Square Garden, to seeing Randy Rhoads with Ozzy Osbourne at the New York Palladium theatre, and many more. So go see these great musicians and bands you grew up with before it’s too late. I grew up listening to Tom Petty on the radio from my teen years. I had never went to see him, so when I heard it was his final tour, I got tickets and went to his concert. A great concert I am glad I didn’t miss, he soon died two months after I saw him. Support the bands you grew up with and go to their concert when it comes through your town. You will never know if it will be their last.