The Rockabilly Weekenders were primed for Dick Dale. At 4:30, the announcer who has his own internet radio program on Live 365 stepped up to the mic: “And, now, Guitar Legend -- the King of the Surf Guitar -- Dick Dale!” Cheers and enthusiastic applause.
“The Wedge,” a double-picked, glissando-driven classic, opened the set. Along the way, Dick played “Let’s Go Trippin’,” “Ghost Riders,” “Comin’ Home,” “Fever,” “Pipeline,” and “Twist and Stomp.” Thousands of people danced, cheered, and applauded. They sang along with “House of the Rising Sun” and “Bo Diddley.” Dick Dale closed with “Miserlou” -- the song which Quentin Tarantino included in Pulp Fiction in 1994 and which revived Dick’s career. Pulp Fiction took “Miserlou” from a semi-obscure surf song to an iconic surf anthem.
As he left the stage, we realized how much energy the cancer, diabetes, and renal failure had sapped from Dick. Those diseases were taking their toll on him, but he kept that from the crowd. After all, the show must go on, and, after Las Vegas, Dick was on his way to Arizona on a tour that ends in Florida.
Dick was not the same rock ‘n roll icon whom we saw just four months ago. Rather, he looked tired and like a 75-year old who needed a hug from his wife, Lana.
The chores of fame, however, remained. The line for autographs, a minute or two of conversation with the legendary Dick Dale, and merchandise was four-people wide and 50 feet long. The adoration and admiration of the fans were palpable as Rockabilly Weekenders waited patiently for their short time with him.
We spent some time gabbing with Dusty Watson, who is -- altogether now -- the best surf drummer in the world. Becky then said good-bye to Lana. We left the “Arena,” walked through the casino, and joined a line of Rockabilly Weekenders at the taxi stand. As had been the case throughout the afternoon, we appeared to be interlopers as we did not have the “look” even though Becky now owned a parasol -- a limited edition “Viva Las Vegas” model.
Once doors to our cab were shut, Rockabilly Weekend was officially behind us. Fortunately, we will have the memory of more than 20,000 celebrating a rock ‘n roll and car rebellion from some 50 years ago for years to come. We headed back to the bright lights, crowds, and cacophony of The Strip.