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Skinny Jimmy’s Picks: The all-time top 5 Dick Dale songs

Skinny Jimmy's Picks: The all-time top 5 Dick Dale songs

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of special features on instro surf music by Skinny Jimmy Stingray, a guitarist and longtime fan of vintage instrumental rock. His past and future columns can be found here on The Atomic Grog. Catch Jimmy in a special Retro Rekindled event on Dec. 15 at The Mai-Kai in Fort Lauderdale. He’ll discuss the history of surf music with The Atomic Grog, followed by a live performance with his band.

Dick Dale, Skinny Jimmy Stingray at Churchill's in Miami in 2012
Skinny Jimmy Stingray’s band shared the stage with Dick Dale three times in 2012-2013 in South Florida.

Skinny Jimmy’s Picks: The all-time top 5 Dick Dale songs

Dick Dale, the King of the Surf Guitar, was a rock ‘n’ roll legend for more than 60 years until he sadly passed away in March at age 81. He has been a major influence on the music I have played and written for the past 15 years. Of all the music he created, I have chosen these five songs that stand out as my favorites.

1. Miserlou

Undisputedly THE Dick Dale song of all time. Upon its release it was uncommon, ground-breaking, and some serious wild-ass aggressive guitar for 1962. Miserlou turned heads all over the country and became an inspiration to every rock ‘n’ roll guitarist, then and now. Its musical impact has not diminished with time. Miserlou will always live on as the legacy of Dick Dale.

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Cancer survivor and rock legend Dick Dale: ‘I had both feet in the grave’

Dick Dale: performed April 25 at Grand Central in Miami with Gold Dust Lounge and Skinny Jimmy & the Stingrays. See below: Photos from the show

Rock ‘n’ roll icon Dick Dale is in the midst of a career resurgence at age 76, despite battling cancer and other serious health issues that would have derailed musicians half his age. He’s graced South Florida with three tours in the past three years, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s in no mood to let anything slow him down.

Dick Dale
Legendary guitarist Dick Dale performs live on his 2013 tour at Grand Central in Miami on April 25.

Dale rarely does interviews anymore, preferring to let his music and legacy of a staggering 58-year career do the talking. But I was privileged to catch up with him via phone from his ranch in California before he set out on his latest tour in March. I promised to limit my questions and keep it brief, but Dale took the conversation in a dozen different directions, as he is known to do, and our talk lasted nearly 45 minutes. It was a fascinating glimpse into the world of not only one of the great guitarists of all time, but one of the most independent and strong-willed musicians to ever take the stage.

His Miami appearance in April showed once again how expertly Dale channels his talent and strength (with impeccable assistance from bassist Sam Bolle and drummer Dusty Watson) into his live shows. The band blasted through all of Dale’s instrumental hits, from Nitro to Miserlou. And when he grabbed the mic to sing a few songs, such as House of the Rising Sun, he quickly had the audience enthralled and singing along. Check out the photos below.

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Concert review: Dick Dale’s comeback revs into overdrive

Dick Dale: April 21 at Respectable Street in West Palm Beach, April 22 at Churchill’s Pub in Miami. See below: Video, photos from both shows

Concert reviews by Jim Hayward

Just two years ago, it was unclear if legendary guitarist Dick Dale would ever tour again. Now in his 70s, the man who invented surf music more than 50 years ago was battling complications in 2010 after a bout with cancer in 2008.

Dick Dale at Respectable Street in West Palm Beach, April 21, 2012.
Dick Dale at Respectable Street in West Palm Beach, April 21, 2012.

Then, miraculously, his health improved. He and his son Jimmy began playing acoustic sets, and by early 2011 plans were moving rapidly toward a limited touring schedule. Soon, the concept of “limited” flew out the window and Dale’s tour last spring and summer included six dates in Florida. The South Florida shows last June were nothing short of incredible [See review].

But rather than tire and grow weary on the road, Dale got stronger. “You’re my medicine,” he would tell the audience after his concerts, showing no signs of his frail health. Dale also clearly benefited from his clean-living lifestyle and years of physical fitness. His wife, Lana, also keeps him on track as his physical and spiritual caretaker.

More touring followed, and when 2012 rolled around he announced a rigorous 50-date jaunt across the country with not much down time. This time, there were nine Florida dates, including back-to-back nights in West Palm Beach and Miami on April 21-22. Would Dale and his band be showing any signs of rust or weariness? We would soon find out.

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