Surf rock pioneer and heavy metal progenitor Dick Dale has died. He was 81. Dale’s live bassist confirmed to the Guardian that he passed away Saturday night. The cause of death is not yet known.
Dale’s 1961 single “Let’s Go Trippin’” is widely acknowledged as the first ever surf rock song and credited with kicking off the genre’s first wave. His song “Misirlou”—which was Dale’s electrified take on an Arabic folk song—propelled him to fame when he performed it live on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1962. Quentin Tarantino later brought the track to a whole new audience when it played over the opening credits of his 1994 cult flick, Pulp Fiction.
Dale, who was born Richard Monsour to a Lebanese father, was heavily influenced by his uncle, an oud player who used to accompany belly dancers. He also taught Dale how to play the tarabaki or goblet drum, which influenced his rapid-fire alternate picking style. His penchant for playing fast and punishingly loud led Guitar Player Magazine to dub him—somewhat controversially—the father of heavy metal.
RIP, Dick Dale. Watch him perform “Misirlou” in 1963 with the Del-Tones below: