Dick Dale, the Strat-wielding champion of surf rock whose biggest hit soundtracked one of the most iconic opening sequences in film, has died. He was 81.
The Guardian confirmed Dale’s passing — which occurred Saturday night — with Sam Bolle, the bassist in his live band. (Billboard reached out to Dale’s agent, who confirmed the news: “it’s a sad day for rock ‘n’ roll.”)
Dale was born Richard Anthony Monsour in 1937 in Boston, and first came to prominence in the early ’60s with his band, the Del Tones, and “Misirlou.”
The 1962 instrumental track, Dale’s take on the traditional Greek folk tune, features his furious, signature strum. The single enjoyed a later ovation thanks to Quentin Tarantino, who blasted it during the opening credits of 1994’s Pulp Fiction 32 years after the song’s release. The Black Eyed Peas notably sampled “Misirlou” in the 2006 hit “Pump It,” which peaked at No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In a 2015 interview with Billboard, Dale, who toured well into his twilight years, was candid about the various health issues he faced — including renal failure, diabetes and more — as he continued to travel the country and perform. “Even with my illnesses and diseases,” he said, “I’m faster with my hands than I’ve ever been.”