"Let's Go Trippin'" was the first surf-rock hit. Dick Dale's staccato guitar sound that he used on this instrumental track was appropriated by acts that became far more successful - notably Jan & Dean and The Beach Boys - but he beat them to the charts with this single.
The song was released in September 1961, two months before The Beach Boys issued their first surf tune, "Surfin'." "Let's Go Trippin'" peaked at #60 in the US in January 1962, and "Surfin'" made #75 in March.
Dale was very popular in 1961, selling out a concert at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, where he played to a crowd of 15,000. He was a real surfer and embodied the culture, earning the title "King of Surf Guitar" soon after his first release in 1959. It was the non-surfing Beach Boys (Dennis Wilson excepted) that brought surf tunes to the masses though, and Dale charted just one more Hot 100 hit: "The Scavenger," which reached #98 in 1963.
Dale started performing this song in the summer of 1961 with his band the Del-Tones at the Rendezvous Ballroom on Balboa Island in California.
Dale wrote this song with the ocean waves in mind. It is the driving beat of his Fender Stratocaster that gives the song the twang that is immediately associated with surf music. Leo Fender himself gave Dale his first Stratocaster and amp in the 1950s; Dale, looking to replicate the sound of Gene Krupa on the drums, proceeded to play so loud and so hard that he blew out the amp.
The Beach Boys covered this song on their 1963 album Surfin' USA.