It's tough being Dick Dale
It can be hard to see a legend. And sometimes, people have a right to be pissed off.
That's what I learned from the Dick Dale show at the Bowl last week.
So Dick Dale was the king and progenitor of the original Surf Guitar sound, that hypnotically rhythmic sheen of high-speed plucking that conjures up a perfect wave breaking off the coast. He inspired great guitarists from Jimi Hendrix to the heavy metal titans but he never became a big popular star.
Now he's 78. He clearly believes (quite rightly) that he never got his due. And when he showed up at the Bowl last week, it showed. Let's be clear: he was surly, at times even a bit angry and clearly did not want to be playing this show.
There were lots of people there - hundreds. And when he first came on stage to loud applause he then, instead of playing anything, spent several minutes harranging the sound crew about adjusting the amplification - telling them "I'm a pro; I know what I'm doing." By the time he deigned to play a note, the crowd had settled into embarassed silence.
Later, he cut off a song at the beginning because the crowd wasn't cheering enough. Three-quarters though the show he decided to ask people to stop recording (see the end of my video clip below). He refused an encore. Between all that, his playing was really good.
If you had just seen the show on its own, it was tough to come away sympathetic to the man. The ample crowd was just eager to see him. But then I saw an article posted to Fans by @Surf at (link below) about how the man is basically dying and can barely afford the health care he needs. And then I looked at his tour schedule at (link below) and saw he had been playing some pretty small places leading into the Brooklyn Bowl show.
And I realized he has a right to be pissed off. It's just too bad he lets it show to the audience. Best wishes to Dick Dale.