Dick Dale (born Richard Anthony Mansour on May 4, 1937) is an American surf rock guitarist, known as The King of the Surf Guitar. He pioneered the surf music style, drawing on Middle-Eastern music scales and experimenting with reverberation. He 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.
Dale was born Richard Anthony Mansour in Boston, Massachusetts, on May 4, 1937. He is of Lebanese descent from his father and Polish–Belarusiandescent from his mother.His parents farmed in Whitman, Massachusetts. Dale’s family moved to Quincy, Massachusetts, which had a significant Arab immigrant community, when Dale was very young. He learned to play music, starting with piano when he was nine. Dale admired Hank Williams—he wanted to be a cowboy singer—so he bought a plastic ukulele for $6 and taught himself to play by reading an instruction book. The first song he played on the ukulele was “Tennessee Waltz“.