In Memoriam pays tribute to those who have left this world, and the songs they left us to remember them by.
Many of can say that rock and roll kept us alive and kept us going, but few meant it as literally as Dick Dale did. “I can’t stop touring because I will die,” he said in a 2015 interview, revealing that he needed to keep playing shows in order to raise the $3,000 a month he needed to treat his multiple health problems – rectal cancer, renal failure, diabetes, damaged vertebrae, and more. Four years after that interview, word came out that he’s played his last earthly concert, passing away at the age of 82.
Dale’s best-known song is “Misirlou,” thanks in no small part to Quentin Tarantino’s placing it in the opening credits of Pulp Fiction. What’s not so well known is that “Misirlou” is itself a cover, of an old Eastern Mediterranean song, and Dale’s version wasn’t the most popular, chartwise – that honor belongs to Jan August’s 1946 version. It was Dale who made the song truly immortal, though, giving it the power of a hundred pounding waves – he famously blew out more than four dozen Fender amps before Leo Fender came up with the 100-watt Dual Showman. He embedded this mighty force in many more covers – below is a small sampling, ranging from Ray Charles to Bob Dylan, Motown to Nashville.
Here’s to him reunited with his pet lioness somewhere beyond the third stone from the sun.