Our Top 10 Dick Dale Songs list takes a look at the music of one of rock’s most legendary guitar players known for his big hit “Misirlou.” While many may associate Dick Dale as the godfather of the surf guitar, the man was also one of the greatest rock guitarist to ever grace the concert stage. His recordings did not always define just how good of a guitar player Dick Dale was. If you ever caught one of his live shows you will be nodding your heard in agreement at this very moment.
The early 1960s is kind of a lost period for rock and roll. Between 1960 and 1963. After the death of the Big Bopper, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens in 1959, rock lost its way. A few stars stood out such as Dion and Roy Orbison, but for the most part, the early 60s were more defined by the great jazz albums being released than the rock records and a viral twist craze.. Dick Dale took advantage of that gap in between 50’s rock and the arrival of The Beatles in 1963 and the British Invasion that followed in 1964.
Dick Dale’s Lebanese ancestry played a major role in the development of his playing. Dale had learned how to play Middle Eastern instruments while utilizing eastern scales. His approach to guitar utilized a more percussive method of playing tied into to eastern scales that created a sound that would eventually be labeled surf guitar. That sound was augmented by Leo Fender of Fender guitar fame to develop an amplifier that could handle Dick Dale’s intense approach to playing guitar while performing in front of packed halls. The sound of his guitar and those packed performances resulted in Dick Dale recording five great albums in the early 1960s while creating a new sound that filled that missing gap of great rock in the early 1960s.
While Dick Dale may be know for his 1960s recordings, he continued to record and perform all the way in to the 2000s. He released nine studio albums and tons of compilations between the years 1961 and 2001. Our Top 10 Dick Dales songs covers that entire period in presenting 10 killer tracks that will knock you off your surfboard.
# 10 – Pipeline
We open up our Top 10 Dick Dales songs list with a fabulous duet between two of the greatest legends of rock guitar of all time. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Dick Dale tore it up on this great cover of the Chantays “Pipeline.” The duet took place in 1987. Check out this great video below that depicts so much of the talents of these two great musicians. Dick Dale’s performance defines his brilliant showmanship skills and his madhouse guitar playing. Stevie Ray Vaughan’s playing shows the true depths of his skill set that were way beyond most other guitarist. Don’t miss this video, it is so enjoyable. The song was recorded for the Back To The Beach 1987 movie soundtrack.
# 9 – Jungle Fever
The great track “Jungle Fever” showcases Dick Dale utilizing the famous Bo Diddley hambone beat. The recording of Dick Dales “Jungle Fever,” was released in 1960 on the Deltone label. It was originally issued as a non album track. Eventually it would make its way onto so many of the Dick Dale compilations released over the years.
# 8 – Mr. Eliminator
If one wants to really dig down into the roots of heavy metal music, Dick Dales “Mr. Eliminator,” is a great place to start. Listen to these minor chord progressions that Dick Dales utilizes on this track. You can hear what members of the band Black Sabbath were listing too in their younger days before they put their band together, as well as many of the other pioneering bands of metal and hard rock.
# 7 – King of the Surf Guitar
Dick Dale’s “King of the Surf Guitar,” was the title track to his King Of The Surf Guitar album. The record was released in 1963. It’s one of the rare tracks with vocals that we included on this list. Although the vocals on this one are not really based on a lead vocals, but rather a girl group harmony that points towards Dick Dale’s wailing guitar playing which is phenomenal on this track.
# 6 – Bandito
“Bandito,” starts with a great opening guitar lick and just keeps getting better with every beat every measure, every fill and every lick. The great recording of “Bandito,” was released on the album Calling Up Spirits. This was no 1960s Dick Dale recording, This was new Dick Dale music released in 1996 and it was smoking
# 5 – Surf Beat
Continuing with our top 10 Dick Dale songs list we turn to the great Dick Dale recording “Surf Beat.” This classic song was released on Dick Dales first full length album Surfers’ Choice. The album was released during the fall of 1962. “Surf Beat,” was the album’s opening track.
# 4 – Let’s Go Trippin’
Dick Dales’s “Let’s Go Trippin’,” stands as one of the most important songs of Dick Dale’s career. Dick Dale first began performing the song in 1960 and discovered audiences loved it. The song was released as a single and reached the number sixty position on the Billboard Hot 100. It stands as Dick Dale’s highest charting single of his career. More importantly the song is viewed historically as the piece of music that started the instrumental surf music craze.
# 3 – The Wedge
As we close in on our number one spot on this incredibly fun to write Dick Dale songs list we turn to the killer track “The Wedge.” What starts out sounding a little like “Wipe Out,” turns into an “Hawaii Five O,” like piece of minor chord madness filled with Dick Dales iconic guitar playing. “The Wedge,” and “Wipe Out,” were both released in 1963. The Hawaii Five O theme was released in 1968.
# 2 – Nitro
If it were not for the popularity of “Misirlou,” we would have put Nitro at number one on this top 10 Dick Dales songs list. “Nitro,” is killer. Its metal meets surf. It 1990s meets 1960s. Its living proof that great music is great music no matter what time period its released in. “Nitro,” was released in 1993 on the Dick Dale album Tribal Thunder. Yes, Dick Dale was still releasing great music in the 1990s. Tribal Thunder is an incredible album. Maybe Dick Dales best ever.
# 1 – Misirlou
There really was no doubt over this one. Just about every person on the planet has heard Dick Dales version of the classic Middle Eastern folk song. The brilliance of famed director Quentin Tarantino has been his ability to recognize brilliant and legendary pop culture moments and renew them in his films. His placement of “Misirlou,” in his 1994 film Pulp Fiction brought a renewed interest in the music of Dick Dale who had only a year earlier put out a new studio album. Dick Dale originally released “Misirlou,” in 1962.
The song was released as a non-album single on Capitol Records. It did not even make the Billboard Hot 100. However it did inspire many bands to record their own versions of the song including The Beach Boys. Overtime, it became a symbol of 1960s pop culture and stands as one of the most significant rock instrumentals of all time.