Surf Beat: The Dick Dale Story
By Stephan J. McParland
This is easily the best documentation of Dick Dale's colorful career publishged to date. Author Stephan J. McParland has done his homework, including lots of details from many sources, as well as those provided by Dick.

The tales of Dale's rise, like those of any legend, depend on who's glasses your looking through. The trail from the publicity machine at Captitol Records was a blend of label hype, Dick's own spin, and facts. This is not unusual, but with time separating then from now, tracking down the truth is not an easy matter. The story never really ended, and with each passing year, new events and perspectives evolved.

Historians have written amny words about this colorful and talented man, each with their own spin, depending on whether they believed Dick or not, liked Dick or wanted to dethrone him, or had access to source documents or not.

What's particularly satisfying about this book is Stephan's style, which keeps personal view out of the story for the most part. His documentary approach brings a balance of views, occasionally summarized with a most likely conclusion, but never judgemental or detracting. With a character as large as the King of the Surf Guitar, that's no easy task.

Much has been written over the years about this man, including tales from disgruntled associates and transcribions of Dick's own words. To say that controversy exists is an understatement.

Dick is many things to many people. He can take license with his history, play the most amazing licks, and give you the shirt off of his back (literally). I once had conversation with him in his front yard on a pleasant afternoon for about two hours. When it was time to leave, he offered a T-shirt. Realizing that he ws fresh out, he gave me the shirt out of his own closet.

This book shows many sides of Dick Dale through picture and word, in a very readable style, and with literate credibility. It's the sort of documentary work that you can't put down. It's full of objective facts and perspectives, written in a friendly almost conversational way that keeps your attention and makes the legend's life seem familiar.

Read it for the history, or for the human character, but read it.