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Dick Dale, surf guitar icon, dead at 81

By Wade Sheridan

March 18 (UPI) -- Dick Dale, a legendary guitarist credited with pioneering the genre of surf rock, has died at the age of 81.

Dale died Saturday after dealing with a number of health issues including diabetes, kidney disease and rectal cancer, drummer Dusty Watson confirmed to NPR after speaking with the rock legend's wife Lana Dale.

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Longtime friend a former bassist Steve Soest confirmed Dale's death to the Los Angeles Times.

Dale, referred to as the king of surf guitar, was a member of the Del-Tones and is best known for his hit song "Misirlou," which was famous for being the theme song for director Quentin Tarantino's 1994 film Pulp Fiction.

Dale achieved the influential, high-energy surf rock sound by using a fast picking technique and by turning up the reverb on his guitar. Dale is said to have influenced the likes of The Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, and Eddie Van Halen, among others.

Dale is also known with collaborating with guitar inventor Leo Fender. The pair worked together on the first 100-watt amplifier.

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Notable deaths of 2019

Notable deaths of 2019
Jerry Herman listens to remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama as the president and First Lady Michelle Obama host the 2010 Kennedy Center Honorees at a reception in the East Room of the White House on December 5, 2010. The Tony-award winning composer died on December 26, 2019, at the age of 88. File Pool Photo by Gary Fabiano/UPI | License Photo

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