Finding Meaning

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Dick Dale at the Rendezvous

By skip Hellewell

Did you read about the March 16 passing of pioneer surf-music guitarist Dick Dale, who got his start firing up the famous stomps at the Rendezvous Ballroom on Balboa back in the ‘60s? Dale got his throbbing style from Big Band drummer Gene Krupa, who made the drum a solo instrument. But it was Leo Fender, a second father to Dale, who gave him his weapon—the Fender Stratocaster. Fender gave him his newest solid-body guitar for free, inviting him to destroy it if he could. Dale couldn’t, though he blew up dozens of amplifiers maxing the volume and reverb with heavy-gauge strings. Leo, a relentless innovator, responded with the Fender Showman amplifier, and surf music was born. If you stomped to Dale and the Del-Tones’ signature song “Misirlou” at the Rendezvous back in the day, you were present at the creation, when Dale gave surfers music to match the waves. But there was another story, unique to Laguna.

The Perine family in the early ’60s—Bob and LaDorna, with daughters (left to right) Jorli, Lisa, and Terri Anna. Photo courtesy of Jorli Perine.

In 1955 a young couple, Bob and LaDorna Perine, both graduates of the Chouinard Art Institute in L.A., moved to Laguna to escape the smog. Creative people were beginning to gather in Emerald Bay in that time and the Perines built a home there for at a total cost of $32,500. Bob was polytalented—a noted watercolorist in the California style, illustrator, photographer, graphic designer, writer, teacher, musician, composer, poet, playwright and whatever. His attractive wife LaDorna was a gifted artist and fashion illustrator in her own right. They had three cuter-than-average daughters, Jorli, Lisa and Terri Anna.

Bob Perine started a marketing and design firm, Perine/Jacobi, that came to the attention of Fender, who had a new guitar, the Stratocaster, to promote. Perine created an innovative campaign featuring people taking their Fender guitars along to unlikely situations—skin-diving, surfing, skate-boarding, motorcycle riding, climbing into the cockpit of a fighter jet—always with the tagline, “You won’t part with yours either.” The campaign ran for years and rather than use a casting agency for actors, Perine saved money by having his daughters scout out local kids with modeling talent. The coolness of Laguna kids was a factor in the growing success of Fender guitars in the era of surf music, and rock and roll.

Perine died of a heart attack in 2004, while working to revive the Chouinard Art Institute. He believed in this creation of Nelbert Chouinard, and late in life wrote the retrospective book “Chouinard, An Art Vision Betrayed.” He also provided the design for a book on his biggest client, “Fender: The Sound Heard Round the World,” in which an aging Fender makes a thoughtful comment: “What’s the use of living if you don’t leave something behind that makes the world a better place, something people will remember you for?”

It’s important to remember Dick Dale, Leo Fender, and Bob Perine, and the music of their lives. There’s meaning in that.


Skip fell in love with Laguna on a ‘50s surfing trip. He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of “Loving Laguna: A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach.” Email: [email protected]

Places to worship (all on Sunday, unless noted):

Baha’i’s of Laguna Beach—contact LSA[email protected] for events and meetings.

Calvary Chapel Seaside, 21540 Wesley Drive (Lang Park Community Center), 10:30 a.m.

Chabad Jewish Center, 30804 S. Coast Hwy, Fri. 7 p.m., Sat. 10:30 a.m., Sun. 8 a.m.

Church by the Sea, 468 Legion St., 9 & 10:45 a.m.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 682 Park Ave., 10 a.m.

First Church of Christ, Scientist, 635 High Dr., 10 a.m.

ISKCON (Hare Krishna), 285 Legion St., 5 p.m., with 6:45 feast.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, 20912 Laguna Canyon Rd., 1:00 p.m.

Laguna Beach Net-Works, 286 St. Ann’s Dr., 10 a.m.

Laguna Presbyterian, 415 Forest Ave., 8:30 & 10 a.m.

Neighborhood Congregational Church (UCC), 340 St. Ann’s Drive, 10 a.m.

United Methodist Church, 21632 Wesley, 10 a.m.

St. Catherine of Siena (Catholic), 1042 Temple Terrace, 7:30, 9, 11, 1:30 p.m. (Spanish), 5:30 p.m.  There are 8 a.m. masses on other days and Saturday 5:30 p.m. vigils.

St. Francis by the Sea (American Catholic), 430 Park, 9:30 a.m.

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 428 Park Ave., 8:00 & 10:30 a.m.

Unitarian Universalist, 429 Cypress St., 10:30 a.m.




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