On Saturday March 16th, the world lost the man known as “The King of the Surf Guitar,” Dick Dale. He was a legendary guitar player who spearheaded the genre known as “surf music” back in the early 1960’s. You may not recognize his name, but there is a pretty good chance you would recognize a few of his songs, especially if you’ve ever seen Pulp Fiction. Click on this link to listen to this song you know but never knew it was Dick Dale.
(Weird fact – Pulp Fiction could be considered a Disney movie, since it was produced and released by Miramax, which as owned by Disney at the time).
As accomplished as he was you’re probably wondering why I’m featuring Mr Dale here on the Add More Mouse blog. Well get this: he wrote the theme song that was featured in Space Mountain from 1996 to 2003!
It’s a really cool piece of music that incorporates all of Mr Dale’s hallmark guitar skills – frantic guitar picking, exotic and tense riffing, and reverb that lasts for days.The Imagineer that had the idea of asking Dick Dale to make the music for this version of Space Mountain was spot on. This song isn’t very far removed from the rest of his sonic catalogue. His music was made for adrenaline, for excitement, and for intensity. Add to that the fact that surf music has a long history with science fiction themes and images and it becomes clear this was a match made in roller coaster heaven.
In my research I turned up something really interesting. In this interview for Vice, Dick Dale recounts an event at Disneyland held for the press in which he stood on top of Space Mountain and played guitar to commemorate the refurbishment of the ride. He said:
“Was there an amp up there?
No, I used a transmitter. It was wild. They said don’t look at the lights, the laser beams, you’ll get dizzy. It was for the opening night, because my music was used in the ride. I had to ride the ride about a hundred time. You could hear the announcer say, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve had this static…” And they had about 800 cooks from all over the country cooking everything you could think of down below, I don’t know how many hundred press was there, and they had closed it off for this whole big giant party for that. They said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have some static from outer space, Space Mountain. We’re looking up at the top of Space Mountain.” And all of a sudden these lights, they had lights positioned that were tremendously powerful lights. When the lights came on, the heat that they created was like a tidal wave, and it hit my body and knocked me down. It was like someone just pushed me, and I went down on my knee. I twisted and got myself back up, it looked like it was part of something. I was only an inch tall to the people down on the ground, I was up so high. And then I just went right into it. I shouted like Moses, I said, “Helloooooo!”
Now – Mr Dale was known to tell some wild stories (I highly encourage you to read that entire Vice interview, it’s amazing. Click on this link to read the full article.
) I have looked online for years since this story came out and I have never found a video, article or a single photo that can prove this actually happened. Now, I am not calling him a liar, I’m just saying I tried to find evidence of it and have come up empty-handed.
If you’re unfamiliar with his music, give it a listen. His tunes make an especially great soundtrack for driving fast, working out, running, basically anywhere that a burst of adrenaline comes in handy.Thanks for the tunes, Mr Dale, and thanks for the great Space Mountain song and story!