Dick Dale, “the King of the Surf Guitar,” has died at the age of 81.
California Rocker first reported that Dale died Sunday. His bassist Sam Bolle confirmed Dale’s death to the Guardian. No cause of death was revealed, but the guitarist suffered from health issues in recent years. In 2010, Dale said he was battling rectal cancer, and in an interview that went viral, Dale said in 2015 that “I can’t stop touring because I will die” due to medical expenses stemming from cancer treatment, diabetes and renal failure. “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 at the time.
As the progenitor of the surf rock genre and an innovator who helped stretch the possibilities of the electric guitar, Dale inspired musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Ry Cooder and the Beach Boys. Dale’s “Miserlou” also notably featured in the opening credits sequence of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.
Born Richard Monsour in Boston in 1937, Dale first played ukulele and then guitar as a child; Dale’s father, with Lebanese roots, taught his son the Middle Eastern scales that would later form the backbone of surf music.
After moving to Southern California as a senior in high school in 1954, Dale developed an obsession of surfing, ultimately combining his two passions and teaming with the Del-Tones to create tracks like 1961’s “Let’s Go Trippin’,” considered the first surf rock song, and the following year’s “Miserlou,” Dale’s take on an Eastern Mediterranean song; the Beach Boys would cover “Let’s Go Trippin’” two years later on their 1963 LP Surfin’ U.S.A.
Dale defined surf music as “that rumbling and all that stuff like that they associated the heavy Dick Dale staccato… it sounded like the barrel of a goddamn wave” in an interview with Surfer.
Dale was also recruited by the Fender company to test drive and help improve their instruments and amps; thanks to its association with Dale, the Fender Stratocaster became the go-to guitar for surf rock, with Dale’s signature golden Stratocaster dubbed “the Beast” a gift from Leo Fender, who custom-made the guitar for maximum volume.
“Nobody played loud, because there was no reason for them to play loud, so Leo [Fender] gave me one of his amps and told me, ‘You go beat it to death, and tell me what you think of it.’ And I started blowing them up, and they would catch on fire. I blew up over 50 of his amps,” Dale told Surfer in 2010. “He would say, “Why do you have to play so loud?” but when I put it on stage, the people’s bodies would soak up the sound because I wanted my guitar to sound like Gene Krupa’s drums.”
Jimi Hendrix, like Dale, would play his Stratocaster left-handed. Eddie Van Halen would later cite Dale and surf music as one of his prime inspirations, with the Van Halen guitarist modeling his method on Dale’s quick-picking. Stevie Ray Vaughan, another disciple, would team with Dale on a cover of the Chantays’ surf classic “Pipeline” in 1986; the rendition would be nominated for Best Rock Instrumental Performance at the 1987 Grammys.
Dick Dale, Surf Guitar Legend, Dead At 81~ NPR
Dick Dale, the surf rock pioneer who took reverb to new levels, died on Saturday night. He was 81. The guitarist’s health had declined over the past 20 years due to a number of illnesses, including diabetes, kidney disease and rectal cancer. The news was confirmed to NPR by Dusty Watson, a drummer who worked and toured with Dale between 1995 and 2006, who says he spoke with Dale’s wife, Lana Dale. No cause was given.
Dale, born Richard Anthony Monsour in 1937, changed the sound of rock and roll in the early 1960s when he upped the reverb on his guitar and applied the Arabic scales of his father’s native Lebanon. Born and originally raised in Massachusetts, he found his aesthetic when his family moved to Orange County, California in 1954 — where he took up surfing.
His high-energy interpretation of an old song from Asia Minor, “Misirlou” (Egyptian Girl), became the most famous song of surf rock: He had learned the tune from his Lebanese uncles, who played it on the oud.
“I started playing it,” Dale, who had started out as a drummer, told NPR in a 2010 interview, “and I said, ‘Oh no, that’s too slow.’ And I thought of Gene Krupa’s drumming, his staccato drumming… When we went to California, I got my first guitar, but I was using this rocket-attack, Gene Krupa rhythm on the guitar.”
Dale’s collaborations with guitar inventor Leo Fender also made sonic history. “I met a man called Leo Fender,” he told NPR, “who is the Einstein of the guitar and the amplifiers. He says, ‘Here, I just made a guitar, it’s a Stratocaster. You just beat it to death and tell me what you think. So when I started playing on that thing, I wanted to get it to be as loud as I could, like Gene Krupa drums. And as I was surfing, when the waves picked me up and took me through the tubes, I would get that rumble sound.”
Fender and Dale also worked together on amplifiers, Dale told Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross in 1993. “I wanted to get a fat, thick, deep sound,” Dale remarked.
Fender kept trying options, but Dale still wasn’t satisfied. “We kept on making all these adjustments with output transformers, with speakers,” Dale told Fresh Air, “and that’s how I blew up over 48 speakers and amplifiers. They’d catch on fire, the speakers would freeze, the speakers would tear from the coils … So he went back to the drawing board came up and invented the Dick Dale Showman amplifier, and the dual Showman amplifier with the 15 inch Lansing speaker. That was the end result … along with the creations that we did on the Stratocaster guitar, making it a real thick body because the thicker the wood, the purer the sound.”
When blues legend Buddy Guy calls you the real deal, that’s no small compliment. Recently, Guy bestowed that honor on Mary Lane. After years of flying under the national radar, Lane has released a new album and is getting a well-deserved burst of recognition.
The 83-year-old singer began performing as a kid on the street corners of Clarendon, Ark. before making her way north to Chicago as part of the Great Migration. There, Lane developed a local following playing in clubs, alongside members of the blues pantheon including Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James, Magic Sam and Junior Wells. Along the way, she recorded just one album more than 20 years ago. Now, Lane is back with a new collection called Travelin’ Woman, out now.
Lane remembers her earliest days performing in Arkansas, where she would sing for the workers in the cotton fields. “I used to go to the field and all the people were out there picking cotton and everything. I’d always be behind. I’d be back there just singing and everybody say, ‘Come and sing, Mary. Go on and sing.’ And I kept on doing it for years and years as I came up.”
Lane’s talent and drive took her from the countryside of Arkansas to the city of Chicago in 1957, where she became known in the city for her showmanship, her spontaneous songwriting — “I just sing what I feel” — and working solely off the inspiration blues music gives her.
“The music got to be right. You know, I gotta feel it,” Lane says. “A lot of musicians out here, they play and they sound good. But you got to have that feel for the blues.”
On, Travelin’ Woman, produced by Jim Tullio, Lane sings of migration, heartbreak and country troubles, all delivered with the signature expression and spirit of traditional blues greats. Lane says she still sings the blues because it upholds the tradition of what the blues meant to her generation. The younger generation of blues artists coming up now, she explains, just don’t play it the same.
“For real, they haven’t experienced the things that I have,” Lane says. “Most of the older musicians, they singing about life and the things they feel, and that’s how they play the blues and sing the blues. So the younger guys, what they got to sing about? A lot of them don’t even know what the blues is.”
Lane was the subject of the documentary I Can Only Be Mary Lane and released Travelin’ Woman under the new Women of The Blues record label as the label’s first artist. Lane is taking the recent accolades in stride. “Until I can’t do it no more, I’ll be out here,” she says. “I still got it.”
“I know how many motherfuckers hate me. ’I’m never going to see a Sam Jackson movie again.’ Fuck I care? I already cashed that check. Fuck you.”
Samuel L. Jackson is driving our golf cart pedal to floor through the unseasonably cold southern California morning fog, pushing the whining electric engine to its limits. It is 8:15 a.m., and he and his foursome have already played nine holes. I met up with them at the turn and hopped into Jackson’s cart as they continued on the course, interrupting their mild shit-talking with sporadic occurrences of golf on the back nine. It is one of those bizarrely random Los Angeles groupings of people you never imagine together. Richard Schiff puffing on a cigarette in a faded Yankees cap and pink-trimmed performance golf slacks. An unfailingly upbeat producer-writer who spends much of the time encouraging everyone’s shots and explaining the game of cricket. A young semipro in a razor-crisp polo who drives the ball off the tee like he’s opening up a portal to another dimension. Don Cheadle is supposed to be here but is absent for unknown reasons. (We eventually discover on the clubhouse television that it has to do with him appearing on Good Morning America at that precise moment.) I later hear that Josh Duhamel frequently rounds out the group. I have never been on a golf course in my life.
Jackson drives, peppering me with questions (“Have white folks started confusing you with Brian Tyree Henry yet?”) and gleefully navigating around obstacles in our path by running two wheels up on the wet grass despite bountiful signage warning us not to do just that. Each time he does this, the cart threatens to pull a little movie-stunt two-wheel tip and throw me onto the asphalt pathway. “Engage your core,” he tells me with an 85 percent straight face. It is good advice from a seventy-year-old man from Chattanooga, Tennessee. I am vaguely scared and trying to play it cool. He is driving decisively, wholly unconcerned. At his age, the Hollywood veteran wears “wholly unconcerned” as comfortably as the faded black Adidas bucket hat he golfs in.
This becomes clear to me when I later interview him in the country-club restaurant and he sprinkles n-words and motherfuckers about the dining area like handfuls of glitter as Grandpa- and Memaw-type club members look awkwardly into their eggs Benedict. He behaves not only like a man who belongs here but also like one who basically owns the place. His casual inattention to the perceived authority of white power structures is so deeply woven into his way of being that in his presence it seems bizarre that anyone, anywhere, would think to behave differently. A lot of people like to say they don’t give a fuck. Samuel L. Jackson simply doesn’t.
“I’ve never understood that whole ’I want to do two movies a year’ thing. I want to get up and act every day.”
What he does care a great deal about is acting and movies (and golf—he is coy about his handicap but acknowledges it lies in low single digits), and he approaches his craft with both a childlike love for the medium and a specialist’s obsession with technique. This combination has led him to enjoy one of the most prolific film careers of any actor alive, despite his relatively late-in-life big break. Perhaps only Nicolas Cage comes close to achieving Jackson’s ability to pop up across a pantheon of wildly disparate titles, ranging from the sublime (Pulp Fiction, Unbreakable, Eve’s Bayou) to the absurd (Snakes on a Plane, Jumper, The Man). I had heard that he averaged four releases a year, which I thought was insane until he corrected me and told me that it was closer to five.
In two separate calendar years, 1990 and 2008, Samuel L. Jackson’s name was on the call sheet for seven different films. Moreover, he has found his way into megafranchises like Star Wars and The Incredibles, and as former SHIELD director Nick Fury, Jackson has shot eleven different Marvel movies, including four Avengers films.
But if any year is the year of Sam Jackson, 2019 looks to be it. In addition to his upcoming Marvel work, he will star in the sequel to 2000’s cult-classic remake of Shaft and handle narration for the much-anticipated docuseries Enslaved.This year also marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of Pulp Fiction, which will be celebrated with hundreds of theatrical screenings and a bevy of appearances and interviews by the man who immortalized Jules Winnfield. The Jackson-led M. Night Shyamalan sequel Glass opened the year atop the box office for multiple weeks, and between that and his Marvel commitments, the actor could spend the first year of his seventies with more weeks at number one than any other working actor in 2019—a remarkable feat for a man who is already the highest-grossing film actor of all time, with his movies accounting for an estimated $13 billion combined.
You can think of film acting—and most people do—as the art of creating convincing emotions on command. But fewer recognize it as the art of both nailing takes and saying other people’s words in a way that is so engaging, so clear, so mesmeric that viewers can’t help but stop whatever they’re doing to watch. He is an all-time great at the second and third things and is woefully underrated at the first. Sam Jackson owns words. It doesn’t matter who wrote them. Once he says them, they belong to him, and anyone else who dares speak them is immediately reduced to a cheap imitator. More than flash on film, he has managed to build a legitimate leading-man career out of the journeyman’s trade by showing up to sets on time for nearly forty years and saying his lines correctly and with inimitable style.
Students around the globe have launched an international walkout to protest adults’ refusal to take action on climate change. They’re taking it into their own hands! Find out more about the protest and the students’ demands.
The children worldwide protesting against lax climate change policies are trying to get something across to their elders: they won’t be silent when it comes to protecting themselves and the generations that come after them. That’s why they launched a strike on March 15, walking out of their schools and taking to the streets to make their voices heard.
In Bolivia, all of the folkloric activities are a way of devotion. In this case, they march through the streets of Santa Cruz de la Sierra following a Virgen del Carmen moving altar. (Gonzalo Pardo)
A group of male dancers arrives at a party after taking part in a long procession of dancing and singing. (Gonzalo Pardo)
Last fall, The Washington Post partnered with Visura in an open call for submissions of photo essays. The Post selected five winners and three honorable mentions out of almost 300 submissions. We are presenting one of the honorable mentions today here on In Sight — Gonzalo Pardo and his work, “Folklore Prophets.”
When Pardo moved from his native Buenos Aires to Bolivia, he first lived in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. The weekly celebrations that spilled out into the streets quickly caught his attention.
For a little more than a year, Pardo spent every Sunday at these festivities. During this time, he learned that the people celebrating were not native to the city, just as he was. These people, historically, were from the capital, La Paz, but had moved to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the nation’s commercial center, bringing their folkloric traditions with them. One of those traditions was their devotion and adoration of La Paz’s patron saint, the Virgen del Carmen (Our Lady of Mount Carmel).
The celebrations can be radiant and vibrant, and as Pardo says, “One of the things that immediately caught my eye was the colorful, loud and devotional mix of dancing and praying: the cholitas with their hats, long and voluminous skirts and the never ending parade of braids.”
Each week, a different group leads the celebrations. These celebrations include parades where people show their devotion according to the traditions they brought with them from La Paz. The parades include hundreds of women, known as cholitas, dancing in traditional costumes to music played by traditional bands. At the head of these parades is always a statue of the Virgen del Carmen, leading the way either carried in the hands of a devotee or in the back of a vehicle as a moving altar.
The community of migrants who put on these celebrations do not always feel welcome in their new home. But as Pardo says, “They express their belief every single Sunday under the burning sun, dressed in their traditional clothes, adoring their figures and dancing to honor their traditions.”
Women from the “Illimani” fraternity dance through the streets of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. (Gonzalo Pardo)
Every Thursday, the fraternities gather to worship the Virgen del Carmen (Our Lady of Mount Carmel). (Gonzalo Pardo)
Other than a juicy scandal, nothing excites Aspenites more than new ski terrain. Such a treat is in store for the 2020-21 season on Aspen Mountain, should Aspen Skiing Co.’s plans come to fruition, with the new expansion and lift into the east facing Pandora’s side beyond Walsh’s Gulch out to Harris’s Wall. That snow-loading lee side of Aspen Mountain has an interesting history.
Ski goddess disappeared
On the cold night of Dec. 8, 1972, after a big powder day, Aspen Mountain ski patrollers were celebrating the good life at the Red Onion bar, when word came round that the talented and universally-admired local ski goddess Meta Burden had not returned home that night. Adding to the intrigue, she and the late Tim Howe, a seasoned, consummate princeling of the patrol in his prime, were having an affair.
Howe and Burden had been skiing that day, his day off, back when the patrol worked six days a week. With a December base nearing 40 inches, the new storm had left a lot of weight on top of a ground layer of faceted snow with poor adhesion, known as depth hoar.
That afternoon, Burden, a one-time racer who skied on 207 Dynamic VR17s — the black and gold cultish French racing boards ski-bums worshiped — had an argument with Howe outside the Sundeck. She wanted to ski Kristi. Howe said no, the snowpack there was too dangerous. They had words and she skied off alone for a defiant white-room run there.
By 7 p.m. the patrol was riding up top in the back of a Tucker Sno-cat from the base of the brand new Lift 1A. Howe had already snowmobiled up to look for her. Her tell-tale tracks led into Kristi, where, according to the American Avalanche Association’s “Snowy Torrents 1972-1979,” a 24-inch soft-slab had run 600 feet over Loushin’s Road (today’s Lud’s Lane) below.
At the time, the runs we know today as Kristi, Hyrup’s and Walsh’s were closed areas not subject to avalanche control, poached through pinball-like entrances of thick woods. While the snow-loaded Kristi had not slid that year, Walsh’s had the day before during the big two-day cycle.
At 10:30 pm, with snow still falling, while probing by lantern light, patrol found Burden under four feet of snow some 200 feet below the road. Resuscitation proved fruitless. Former patroller Ed Cross recollects the victim was frozen solid and CPR was challenging. He looked up at Howe, who shook his head to say no more.
In the late 1970s Tim “El Avalanchero” Howe became “supervisor of avalanche control” for Aspen Mountain, and he named the one-time-secret patrol ski stash just south of Kristi and Walsh’s “Pandora’s Box,” based on a concern over what would happen if the general public ever ventured into the steep, timbered terrain that ends with no obvious runout to the valley floor or return to the ski area.
Since then, that frontier along the east flank of Aspen Mountain and Richmond Hill, stretching out past McFarlane’s Bowl above Difficult Creek, has been pushed by out-of-bounds skiers and caught more than a few in the wrong place at the wrong time. Before Walsh’s, Hyrup’s and Kristi became part of Aspen Mountain’s open terrain in 1984, the steep gullies of Pandora’s, out to Powerline and beyond — known as the “Far East”— held a high degree of the wild unknown.
With avalanche dangers having always been a consideration along that steep ridge, some argue that the concept of understanding risk has diminished with the advent of high-tech beacons, airbags, cellphone dependence and avalanche classes for dilettante experts. That said, without frontiers, error and sacrifice, new ski-area terrain would never be tamed.