Dick Dale — guitar legend and father of surf rock — has inspired and influenced at least three generations of musicians with his raw, attitude-driven, fuzz-swelled tone. Of course, his style was shaped by time spent on sun-soaked California beaches, but the uniquely overpowering sounds that pour out of the instrument come from less-predictable influences as well. Growing up, Dale also raised exotic animals. The snarls, growls, yells, and shrieks you can hear in his music are actually mimicries of the menagerie of pets he owned, which included mountain lions. His eccentric ways didn't stop in his 20s — they've pleasantly and endearingly followed him through adulthood into his silver years. For one thing, he's a martial arts expert, having studied for 30 years. At a show in Phoenix a few years ago, he indulged a liquored-up post-show crowd by teaching them breathing exercises, which they used to move through the sardine-packed room, their ears still ringing from classic cuts like "Misirlou" and "Let's Go Trippin'." At 73, Dick Dale is a cancer survivor, an environmental activist, and still possesses the gift of gab. More important for concertgoers, he continues to kick his amp into overdrive, pushing the noise threshold every chance he gets.
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