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Dick Dale in LIFE magazine: 1963

article from August 30, 1963 LIFE magazine (p 82-83):
"King of Surfing Music", pictorial and article by Bill Ray

Title: "LIFE visits Dick Dale, 'King of Surfing Music': The Good Life of an Idol"

"Out of the West Coast has come a thumping teenage idol who is part evangelist, part Pied Piper and all success-- Dick Dale, chief purveyor of an ear-splitting noise called 'surf music.' The pounding rhythm of this wet rock'n'roll presumably echoes the sound of the big California surf, and Dale himself seems to echo the longings of the 12 to 20 set, who swarm to hear him wherever he plays, buy up his record albums and have lifted him into the $100,000-a-year bracket. At the moment, Dale is on his first nationwide tour, a six-week project he took on grudgingly because the life he loves is back home in California. There he goes surfing every morning, shows adoring visitors his menagerie of exotic animals, roars around in sports cars and lives it up in a bachelor house at Costa Mesa."

"He improvises most of the music he makes and admits that 'top-notch musicians would scoff at it.' But he uses it to attract kids so he can make friends with them, listen to their troubles and exhort them to civilised behavior. Liquor, short pants, fights and Capri slacks for girls are banned from the ballroom when Dick Dale plays. He refuses to issue pass-out tickets, thus preventing forays to the parking lot for nips and necking. He ends each performance with a spiritual, often interupts his playing to hand out advice: 'You must believe in treating the other person just like you'd want him to treat you.' He also says: ' You must learn humility' and takes his own advice, permitting no applause after his numbers."

The Lost Legends Of Surf Guitar, Vol. 1-3

The Lost Legends Of Surf Guitar, Vol. 1-3 (Sundazed, 2003)
(Originally posted on Surf Guitar 101, Sep 13, 2003)

I got these three CDs about 3-4 weeks ago, and have been slowly digesting them. There are almost 60 tracks by something like 30 bands on here, so there's a lot to get a handle on. However, the more I listen to these three CDs, the more I like them. It's quite amazing that Sundazed was able to dig out this many songs, many if not most of which are very rare and have not been available on CD, and some which see the light of day for the first time.

The first thing you'll notice about these CDs is the absolutely SUPERB packaging! It's quite stunning, in fact. Each CD comes with its own fold-out booklet, with gorgeous original color photos of the bands and Fender's promo material; and on the face of each CD is one of Fender's Holy Surf Guitar Trinity: Strat, Jag and Jazzmaster. Each CD also comes with copious and excellent liner notes: vol. 1 by Dominic Priore, Vol. 3 by John Blair (can't remember who did Vol. 2 right now, and I don't have the CDs here). Also included are all sorts of interesting quotes and recollections by the original musicians themselves – for example, the lead guitarist of the New Dimensions says that the Jag with flatwound strings is really `thee' surf guitar, and that a Strat really WASN'T a surf guitar – something that Dick Dale, Paul Johnson, Eddie Bertrand, Jim Messina, Jim Fuller, Art Fisher and many others may disagree with! Anyway, great kudos to Sundazed for such a wonderful job with the packaging. WAY above the call of duty, and surpassing ever their own high standard of excellence.

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Devlar Surf Sessions Celebrates 5 Years!

Ray Duke's Devlar Surf Sessions has just celebrated 5 years of operation over at Live365 Internet Radio! Ray started his station to play his favorite band Slacktone, and quickly expanded to play the best in surf, hot rod, garage, tiki, spy, space, and lounge. Congratulations Ray, and THANK-YOU!

Check out Devlar Surf Sessions.

Jim Messina and His Jesters: "Dragsters"

Jim Messina and His Jesters: "Dragsters"
(Originally posted on Surf Guitar 101, June 25, 2004)

The original Jesters LP was released sometime in '64 and was credited to "Jim Messina and his Jesters" (notice the copy of "Dick Dale and HIS Del-tones") and it was called The Dragsters. This is the LP that was reissued on CD on the semi-legit Euro label Surf in the '90s. It's great stuff, 14 songs, 11 of them written my Messina. The covers are: an uptempo version of the Breeze and I, and surf-guitar-led versions of fifties instro hits Honky Tonk and Raunchy. Messina's guitar work is truly exceptional, sounding like DD's flashier doppleganger, with a lot of nimble fingerwork full of fast hammer-ons and pull-offs, and not as much double-picking as you may expect. (I only recently started noticing how Dick-Dale-ish Messina's playing was. Listen to "The Thing" - it's a total rip-off of DD's "Surfing Drums" - which of course was a Bo Diddley rip-off itself! - and the licks he's playing are completely DD. Messina also uses the pickup position #4 (neck and middle pickups) a LOT, which is also something that DD pioneered in surf music.)

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StratoGeezer Joins SurfGuitar 101!

Fellow instrumental surfaholics - StratoGeezer has joined the ranks of Surfguitar101! We found out about this site from our new friend John McCorvey (formerly of the X-Rays, now the Surge).

We are an instrumental surf trio out of the Atlanta, GA area - and play primarily in our attic/studio - where we record tons of wacky videos - primarily covers of surf classics. We are also starting to play out more this spring.

Check us out and send us your band's link - we'll put it up on our website if you'd like us to!

Thanks! Rob - StratoGeezer

Interview with Randy Holden of The Fender IV

Here is a repost of the Randy Holden interview we had on the original SG101 site.

Randy Holden was the lead guitar player for the short lived and somewhat obscure mid-sixties surf band "The Fender IV." However, if you were lucky enough to find their music, you were in for a special treat. Randy's playing was powerful and ferocious, with an intensity and mastery that rivaled Dick Dale. The Fender IV's mission was to play loud, clean, and fast, ensuring that no one could follow them on stage. They influenced a number of 3rd wave surf bands as witnessed by the numerous covers of genre defining songs like Mar Gaya, Malibu Run, and the barn burning Everybody Up!

Randy later went on to other bands and notably played and recorded one album with Blue Cheer. He left music for many years and became a skilled artist. He has recently returned to making music. Visit his website and check out samples of his music and artwork. Luckily for us, he has released a CD containing most of the Fender IV's recorded output, including some songs that were never released at the time.

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Update on Rob Woolsey of The Detonators

Rob Woolsey, guitar player with The Detonators was recently involved in a car accident. The Detonators contributed a fine track (Liquid Chaos) to our 2005 MP3 compilation. Rob recently posted an update on his condition to the Cowabunga Yahoo Group. I am reprinting it here. Please join me in wishing Rob a very speedy recovery!

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The Defiant Ones: Super Secret Disaster

The Defiant Ones: Super Secret Disaster (2006)
(Originally posted on Surf Guitar 101 on February 7, 2006)

The only reaction a person can have to this CD: Holy Crap! This is absolutely insane, completely over-the-top music. It's a side-project between two of the Balboas, Rich (lead guitar) and Caitlin (bass in the Balboas and baritone guitar here), and Dusty and Sam (Slacktone, Agent Orange, Jon & the Nightriders, Dick Dale, etc., etc., etc.). It's a mix of California hard-core punk and surf, and it's definitely UNIQUE. It's grungy as hell, and it ain't pretty in any way shape or form, but damn, it rocks like a mutha!

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SG101 Video Clips Resurface on YouTube

A very popular fixture on the old SG101 site were the various video clips that my wife shot. I took these videos down when we turned on the new format, as the videos were eating my monthly bandwidth.

I have created an account (surfguitar101) on, and have begun the process of uploading the videos there. It's gonna take me a little while to get them all uploaded, so please be patient. I hope you enjoy them, and I hope they will receive a wider audience at YouTube.

SG101 Videos on

PS Here is a tip for would-be YouTube uploaders. I got the best results with my Quicktime files by first converting them to mpeg-4 (.mp4) before uploading them to YouTube.

Quite A Party! 24 Great Instrumental Bands Play the Fireballs

Quite A Party! 24 Great Instrumental Bands Play the Fireballs (Ace Records, UK, 2005)
(Originally posted on Surf Guitar 101 on February 7, 2006)

Here we have a tribute album that's been a long time in the coming. The Fireballs were a New Mexico band that got their start in '58 (pre-Ventures) and ended up becoming a major influence on both the Ventures as well as the nascent surf genre (especially the Belairs and the South Bay sound) with their early instrumentals which went beyond Duane Eddy and relied much more on the Fender sound. They also introduced a heavy dose of Mexicana to their tunes, which clearly has also had a big influence on surf music. And their lead guitar player George Tomsco penned some of the classic instrumental tunes, such as Bulldog, Torquay and Quite a Party.

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