Dick Dale, 81, known as the King of the Surf Guitar and recorded the hit song “Misirlou,” which was revived on the “Pulp Fiction” film soundtrack, died March 16 in Loma Linda, Calif.

He had been in treatment for heart and kidney failure.

Dale was a surfer, sound pioneer and guitarist whose unusual percussive playing style and thick thunderous music earned him the nickname the Father of Heavy Metal. He influenced the Beach Boys, the Cure, Eddie Van Halen and Jimi Hendrix, among others.

Sam Bolle, a bassist who played with Dale’s namesake band, Dick Dale, for about 15 years, described him as an “aggressive and ferocious” musician.

Dale became known for defining the sound of surf guitar as a musical expression of the elemental surge of the ocean, with its savage waves, its volatile crosscurrents and its tidal undertow. He played melodies that crisscrossed the beat with the determination of a surfer riding through choppy waves, forging a triumphant path above deep turbulence.

His quest for a sonic impact to match what he had felt while surfing also led to innovations that would change the technology of electric guitars and ­amplification.

Leo Fender, one of the electric guitar’s trailblazers, worked with Dale to create a guitar sturdy enough to withstand his style — Dale called it the Beast — and an 85-watt amplifier that could crank up loud enough to fill a dance hall.

In the fast-changing 1960s, instrumental surf rock reigned briefly on the charts, and the Beach Boys used it as one foundation of their pop songs. Dale’s brash playing also found fans in Jimi Hendrix and many other guitarists, and, decades later among a generation of indie-rockers, who prized his untamed sound.

Chris Darrow, a multi-instrumentalist who has been in the music industry for more than 50 years, first saw Dale perform at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Newport Beach, Calif., in the early ’60s.

“The intensity and volume of the performances were such that the wooden building seemed to lift off the ground when he played,” Darrow said in an interview with music journalist Harvey Kubernik. “Until the Beatles came along, there was nothing that drove the audiences as wild like Dick Dale and the Del-Tones. He was boss.”

In 1963, Dale’s music was catapulted onto a national stage when he performed “Misirlou,” an adaptation of a traditional Arabic song, on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The song re-entered the mainstream in 1994 as the opening anthem for Quentin Tarantino’s blockbuster film “Pulp Fiction.”

For years, Dale struggled with health problems, including bouts with rectal cancer and renal failure. But he performed through the illnesses.

He was born Richard Monsour in Boston on May 4, 1937.

Anita Silvers, 78, a philosophy professor who was a leading voice in the interpretation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, arguing that disability rights should be viewed the same as other civil rights and not as an accommodation or as a social safety net issue, died on March 14 in San Francisco.

San Francisco State University, where she taught for half a century, said the cause was pneumonia.

She was already a well-regarded scholar with an expertise in aesthetics in the 1990s, when she started to focus increasingly on disability law and definitions related to it. She knew about disabilities firsthand: She had polio as a child, and the disease left her with limited mobility. The Americans With Disabilities Act had been passed in 1990, and Silvers began to examine how it was being interpreted.

She wrote or co-wrote numerous papers, arguing that a fundamental flaw in many interpretations of the act was measuring people with disabilities against an idea of “normal.”

“Progress depends on constructing a neutral conception of disability, one that neither devalues disability nor implies that persons with disabilities are inadequate,” she wrote in a 2003 paper.

Anita Silvers was born on Nov. 1, 1940, in Brooklyn.


Bishop Francis A. Quinn, 97, a beloved community leader who exerted moral authority with a gentle touch as the spiritual head of Catholics in the Sacramento region, died Thursday. He was the oldest living bishop in the U.S.

Quinn served from 1980 to 1994 as bishop of the Sacramento diocese, which covers 42,000 square miles. He led a growing flock in Northern California, including seven new parishes, two elementary schools and one high school that opened under his leadership.

He encouraged lay Catholics, especially women, to take active roles in the church. He supported ordination of deacons to help alleviate the shrinking ranks of priests.

He came under heavy criticism for not responding aggressively to allegations of sexual abuse by priests. He was forced to testify in court after three women filed a 1991 lawsuit accusing a Glenn County priest of seducing them. Although the Sacramento Diocese was cleared of liability, the trial revealed allegations of sexual misconduct by other priests under his leadership as bishop.

In a 2010 interview, Quinn expressed regret for not moving quickly to protect children from harm. “I was stupid and ignorant and take full responsibility,” he said.

Francis Anthony Quinn was born Sept. 11, 1921, in Los Angeles.

news services