Dick Dale, music legend known as ‘King of the Surf Guitar,’ dies at 81

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Guitarist Dick Dale attends the 2010 NAMM Show – Day 1 at the Anaheim Convention Center on January 14, 2010 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images for NAMM)

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Dick Dale, the legendary musician known as the King of the Surf Guitar has died, according to TMZ, citing Sam Bolle, Dick’s live bassist. He was 81.

Dale pioneered and created what many call the surf music style, drawing on Middle-Eastern music scales and experimenting with reverberation.

“He was an original, he always did things the way he wanted to do them … his own way. Long before punk rock, he was doing that,” Bolle said.

Dale worked closely with Fender to produce custom made amplifiers, including the first-ever 100-watt guitar amplifier.

He pushed the limits of electric amplification technology, helping to develop new equipment that was capable of producing distorted, “thick, clearly defined tones” at “previously undreamed-of volumes.”

The “breakneck speed of his single-note staccato picking technique” and showmanship with the guitar is considered a precursor to heavy metal music, influencing guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen.

There is no word on an official cause of death, but Dale was known to have dealt with a number of health issues over the years, including battling back from rectal cancer twice.

Dale’s early 1960s track Miserlou was featured in the opening credits of the cult classic movie Pulp Fiction in 1994 and was later sampled by the Black Eyed Peas in their song Pump It.

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