The first thing I learned about Dick Dale came to me around the age of 12 on a school bus by way of a pair of headphones, the cord of which led to a since-forgotten contraption known as a Discman, which my friend kept on his person at all times. The sound coming through the wire was something like a laser beam shooting through the side of the Beach Boys station wagon. It was surf music, but there was no corniness or goofy hooks - it was all about pure, direct and astounding musicianship that sometimes didn't even sound like a guitar. By the time the bus got to school, I'd discovered a new guitar idol - one not named Hendrix.
By that time, Dale was already an American musical hero, having broken onto the mainstream music scene in the early 1960s and within a few years torching the Ed Sullivan Show stage with a rendition of "Misirlou," a song that in 1962 sounded like nothing else in rock and roll, and very well may have paved the way not just for the future of surf rock, but also for rock music as a whole. Dale, playing the guitar upside down, a la Hendrix but several years before Hendrix, went on to score several hits with his band, The Del Tones, and also survived a battle with colon cancer. Then in 1994, around the time I got my first taste of Dale on that early morning bus ride, "Misirlou" was included on the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. Suddenly, Dick Dale and everything about him was brought to a new audience.
Dale is coming to Bend and it's safe to say that he'll have fans at the Domino Room on Thursday night who caught onto his hot guitar licks at different times during his 50-plus-year career. I hadn't heard much about Dick Dale in the last few years, although he did release a collection of hits this year entitled Guitar Legend: The Very Best of Dick Dale. A visit to his website shows the surprisingly young-looking 73-year-old wearing a headband, as is his wont, considering he's been studying martial arts for the better part of three decades. The site has some links - one to his schedule of shows, another to his biography and discography, but the front page is dominated by pictures of his boat... or more accurately, his former boat.
Of course, a guy like Dick Dale should have a boat. He's ostensibly the greatest "surf rock" guitarist of all time and surfers like the water - this makes sense. But Dick Dale is using his website to sell his boat, a 1987 45-foot Bayliner that's described as a "custom motor yacht." Dale says he bought a bigger boat, hence, he's selling this one. And he even includes his e-mail address and phone number (or someone's phone number) on the site - so if you're interested at all, even remotely, in becoming a yacht owner, this is the yacht you should buy. Why? 1) From the photos, it looks like something out of Weekend at Bernie's, which is awesome. 2) If you buy this, or even express interest in making an offer, you'll probably get to talk to Dick Dale. 3) If you actually have the money to buy a yacht, you might as well buy this yacht. Sure, you might be able to find something newer, but not with this sort of potential.
Really what you should do, however, is convince Dale to play a private show for you and your friends on the boat as a condition of sale. Surf rock on the open seas? Just try to pretend that wouldn't be incredible. A legendary musician on what appears to be a legendary nautical vessel? Absolutely. And don't even worry about sending me a finder's fee, knowing that this ship is in good hands is more than enough of a commission for me.
8pm Thursday, December 16. Domino Room, 51 NW Greenwood Ave. $20 advance at Bendticket.com, Ranch Records and ticketswest.com. All ages.
1958: Jan and Dean debut their single "Jennie Lee" - giving the world its first taste of Southern California pop culture.
1959: Gidget debuts in theaters across the nation. Suddenly, surfing becomes the coolest thing any rebel can aspire to do.
1960: The Ventures cover of "Walk Don't Run" becomes an instant hit. Kids everywhere want electric guitars.
1962: Dick Dale plays the Ed Sullivan Show.
1963: The Beach Boys release Surfin' USA, the first of three records they would release that year.
1966: The Beach Boys shift gears with Pet Sounds, which was hardly as "surf" oriented as their early records. The heyday of the surf era is over.