Sunday, March 17, 2019


Dick Dale has died. He was 81. I'm reposting an emotional post written several years ago after seeing him play after a bout with cancer: "You Are My Medicine."


A week ago my wife and I saw Dick Dale play a show at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. I dropped a few emotional tweets about the show here, herehere and here, and even wrote a comment over on Sissy Willis' blog here. I can't add much more. Dick Dale has his own long history and I feel very fortunate to have seen this latest show. According to this reporter, rumors of his imminent retirement are exaggerated. I hope so.

Dick Dale is 73 years old now and has been performing locally since 1955. When he first came onstage he gave a long spiel about fighting cancer and about having to cancel a bunch of upcoming shows, including a tour of Japan. He told the audience "No way could I cancel this show--you are my medicine."
He said that he was running a fever of 102. My wife, who has cared for a lot of cancer patients, could read between the lines and knew exactly what he was going through treatment-wise.  His weakness forced him to sit the entire show but it didn't matter--he played as well as he ever had. We were seated at a table across from a gentleman who has followed Dick Dale since 1961 and he was clearly enjoying this one as much as ever. I'm sorry I don't have a better photo of Dale. I felt drawn to him, wanting to get closer to him more and more as the show unfolded. But the very front was occupied by close friends and family and there just wasn't any way to politely intrude on their space and so I didn't.

What got me emotionally was the obvious bond between father and son onstage. Jimmy Dale, who just turned 18, has been playing onstage with his dad since he was little.  There were times when both father and son would be playing in unison and Dick would take his hands off the guitar as if to say "look no hands" while Jimmy just kept the riff going.  That's amazing.  Such obvious affection between the two.

Dick Dale has a reputation for eschewing drugs and alcohol. He says that he went through the treatments without pain meds. After the show his last words were again "You are my medicine!"  When he stood up after the show, he visibly grimaced in pain and he was helped offstage by his son and another man. We never saw him again.

After the show, Jimmy was hanging around the fans, posing for pictures and signing the usual autographs. I thought of a photo but it was too dark and I didn't have a flash. My wife took Jimmy's hand and told him: "You tell your Dad that he's a great inspiration for cancer patients." He said "I will."

Photo used with permission of Ron


Rabel said...

Prepare yourselves. Put on your clean underwear and pick up your room. We may have company coming over.

Sixty Grit said...

That is very sad news indeed. He was immensely talented and hugely influential. I remember hearing Hendrix sing "You'll never hear surf music again" and, at the time completely misunderstood what he meant by that.

Rest in peace, Dick Dale, you were the man and you outlived your contemporaries and beat many illnesses that would have defeated others. Godspeed.

Known Unknown said...

"Prepare yourselves. Put on your clean underwear and pick up your room. We may have company coming over."

Ha ha ha ha. ToP is getting a makeover. Again. Scratch a Wisconsin Law Professor, and you find a facist, every time. However, it is her place and she can do what she wants.

Sixty Grit said...

Sounds like Splooge Stooge Two, the Second Coming.

Dad Bones said...

Quite the treat that you and your wife got to see him towards the end, cl. He looked like one of those rare people who managed to hold on to whatever it was that made him Dick Dale without even thinking about it.

MamaM said...

It was dead as a doornail at the Althouse blog last night. Experimentation was underway in the form of comment moderation that began yesterday evening. According to the announced plan, the only comments to show up going forward will be the ones that are submitted to the Hostess and her Good Friend the Broom (who appeared at one point to be swishing the distressed rabble toward Lem's) to be personally approved or selected by them for posting during working hours.

Much different from an ongoing forum approach.

More like choosing colors from a palette for a painting specifically designed by an artist intent on creating a picture for public observation using the blog format as the canvas, the post as the outline, sketch or focal point, and the comments from others as whatever color or shading the artist feels will most enhance or serve her purpose in presenting the picture. They could also be seen as a review of her work, but the ever-present possibility within any relational exchange, even in a controlled setting, is the formation of a "third thing", some thought, invite to consideration or burst of creative expression goes beyond what the artist presented, though the temptation would be there to use whatever comes up for moderation to solicit appreciation or steer outcome.

What will happen? It's my sense the tone of the blog will change and it will lose vitality over time. The time lag and selective editing now in place will limit discourse and curtail the back and forth dynamic that led to the sense of community that was present before the Meltdown and returned to a much lesser degree in the five years since the first wave left.

I could be wrong. Maybe this new way will open to door to something different and better. I'm currently experiencing this change as the end of something I valued and chose to enter into as an observer after I stopped participating as a commenter there. Up to now, I continued to believe most of the comments that showed up were representational of a larger reality and for the most part true in the overall, rather than curated and handpicked as they will now be. I will be curious to see what happens next.

Hey chickelit, I found this on the link to a back and forth on SSMarriage--Jan 6, 2014 and it still makes me smile:

I was sorry to hear the life of someone who impacted your life, someone you appreciated and wrote about whose music you enjoyed and shared with others, had come to an end. Thank you for valuing Dick Dale and his contributions and remembering him as you have.

chickelit said...

Thanks for the smile, MamaM. That cheers me greatly.
Those chirbits — most are from the “meltdown” period.

Sixty Grit said...

I correctly guessed what the tune would be based on the title, but my hearing is so bad I could not understand a single word of the lyrics. Needs CC, CL.