Dick Dale, 78, Currently Tours Despite Having Rectal Cancer, Renal Failure, and Massive Vertebrae Damage

Dick Dale Performs
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Dick Dale is one of the greatest surf rock guitarists of all time, and a pioneer of the genre alongside the Beach Boys.  These days, he’s still actively touring at age 78, despite a myriad of serious medical problems that include rectal cancer, renal failure, diabetes, and vertebrae damage.

Sadly, the reason Dale still tours is because he needs the money to cover medical costs that insurance won’t.  “I can’t stop touring because I will die,” Dale admitted in an interview with the Pittsburgh City Paper.  “Physically and literally, I will die.”

“I have to raise $3,000 every month to pay for the medical supplies I need to stay alive, and that’s on top of the insurance that I pay for.”

Currently, Dale is embarking on a 25-city, three-month tour that stretches across most of the United States.  That is, despite excrutiating pain while playing, and a non-stop need to attend to pressing medical issues.

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And, desperate situations like this one in Las Vegas, when Dale’s colostomy bag broke right before showtime.  “I had diarrhea coming all down my legs into my clothes and my pants, and my shirt,” Dale explained to the City Paper ‘with a laugh’.  “I’m supposed to be up on stage and I had to call [my wife] Lana and go into the bathroom.  Lana washed my clothes out in the sink, I wrung them out and put them back on and did an hour-and-a-half show soaking wet, and then I signed autographs for five-and-a-half hours after.”

Dale’s reality is depressing on multiple levels, though also inspirational.  Because compared to Dale, your problems really aren’t that interesting anymore.  “When I go on stage, I’m in pain every night. But through the martial arts, I’ve learned to guide and deal with pain,” Dale continued in the interview.

“I play harder now than I ever have, and honestly when I go on stage I push a button. I swear at the pain. ‘Get out of my damn body; I’ve got to do a job!’”

Top image by Jester Jay Goldman, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 (CC by 2.0).

7 Responses

  1. Jeff Robinson

    Xbox/Groove music is paying 4 cents a stream. Let’s all pitch-in and add Dick Dale to our playlists, okay?

    Paul, any idea which records he owns and controls outright? I’d like to make sure that money funnels directly to him.

    • Anonymous

      “Let’s all pitch-in and add Dick Dale to our playlists, okay?”

      Lots of reasons to do so under any circumstances.

      That guitar…

      • Anonymous

        …oh, and for those of you who don’t think you know Mr. Dale, do google Misirlou (and check those YouTube videos)…

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Jeff, if you really want to help Dick Dale, hand him the money yourself. That’s the only way to get a 100% royalty !

      Short second-place, go to his show.

      The rest, he may get little-to-nothing, in fact, that may be the reason he’s on tour.

  2. Margaret

    Dick is a great guy who lives life every day. He’s got a great spread in 1000 Palms where he roams free around his property.

  3. Name2

    Wow. This is what the unspoken bitter end game of the “Musicians should PERFORM for their daily bread and sell T-shirts” mindset looks like in reality.

    0 – Work until you fall over into the grave.
    1 – Sometimes you’re washing human waste out of your stage clothes minutes before curtain, but them’s the breaks.
    2 – you need every last body to walk away smiling, so you sign a hundred pieces, most of which ore for ebay bottom-feeders.

    (I’d like to see mote lists like this at DMN, rather than sophomoric Spotify-bashing, or “advice” to “singer-songwriters”).

    Nice industry model you got there. Homeless street people go out with more dignity.