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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."

This story has 11 comments.


cool piece, thanks for posting that!


WR | 08-May-2006 10:35:34 | Flag

That's kinda weird...I wonder how many of those restrictions were the Ballroom's and/or community vs Dick Dale. I guess those were different times.

Brian | 08-May-2006 18:06:42 | Flag


re: no applause allowed...that struck me as odd also...i wonder if that actually took place at Dick's shows back then, or whether it was something that Dick told the LIFE interviewer???

dp | 08-May-2006 18:50:13 | Flag

"ear-splitting noise called 'surf music.'" That had me on the floor, LMAO!! That's about as apropo description as I've ever heard! I love it!


IvanP | 08-May-2006 19:14:19 | Flag

It's a very cool to read that, almost like getting my hands on a time capsule. Do you have the original article, DP? Do you you have the pictures?

Brian | 08-May-2006 21:19:38 | Flag

I do have the original LIFE magazine from August 1963: picked it up on the Ebay recently. It has great photos (duh, of course, it's LIFE magazine)...but, even better photo captions...the photos had me absolutely busting up!

Ivan: yes! I agree, the "ear-splitting noise called surf music" line had me in stitches too...

Brian: exactly...a time's almost like we are surf-archeologists attempting to decipher the customs of a long lost society from the few relics it left behind...

I wanted to submit scans of the photos (and especially the photo captions), but I don't have a scanner at home. Perhaps I can spend a little time at work and get some nice scans posted in a few weeks...but, right now it's "end-of-the-school-year" crunch time...quite hectic at work...

dp | 08-May-2006 21:53:13 | Flag

Great article! I liked the part about the inspirational words...see, it did not start recently! Thanks for posting, Ran

kick_the_reverb | 09-May-2006 09:19:55 | Flag

Geez, Dick was making $100,000 in '63? Adjusting for inflation, that's $610,000 today. Not a bad year.

WindanseaBeachBoy | 09-May-2006 11:55:29 | Flag

What a hoot!

Jon | 09-May-2006 15:00:56 | Flag

Pictures of the story are to be found here [].

Brian | 01-Sep-2006 23:09:40 | Flag

brian: cool! you found the photos!

dp | 12-Oct-2006 12:06:41 | Flag

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