The long journey of Misirlou

From "Rebetiko", to "Pulp Fiction", to "Pump It"!


Oriental dancer:Created with 3D software by SDimis

I though to share with the friends of this blog, information I collected regarding the amazing journey of an exotic beauty, named Misirlou (or Mousourlou):

"Misirlou ("Egyptian Girl"; from Turkish word Mısırlı means "Egyptian) is a popular Greek song with a cult-like popularity in five very diverse styles of music: Greek rebetiko, Middle-Eastern belly dancing, Jewish wedding music (Klezmer), American surf rock and international orchestral easy listening (Exotica).

The song was first performed by the Michalis Patrinos rebetiko band ,in Cafe Aman places of Athens, Greece in 1927. Michalis Patrinos was a musician from Smyrna, who immigrated to Athens after the Asia Minor Disaster of 1922.

The song's actual composer has never been identified, and its ownership rested with the band's leader.
Initially, the song was composed as a Greek (Asia Minor) tsifteteli dance, in the rebetiko style of music (oriental rebetiko), at a slower tempo and a different key than the famous performances most of us are familiar with today.
Misirlou song was circulated in the United States by Titos Dimitriadis' Orthophonic label.

In 1941, Nick Roubanis, a Greek-American music instructor, released a jazz instrumental arrangement of the song, crediting himself as the composer. Since his claim was never legally challenged, he is still officially credited as the composer today worldwide, except in Greece where credit is variably given to either Roubanis or Patrinos.

The song was re-arranged as a solo instrumental guitar piece by Dick Dale in 1962. During a performance, Dale was bet by a young fan that he could not play a song on only one string of his guitar. Dale's father and uncles were Lebanese-Americans and musicians as well, and Dale remembered seeing his uncle play "Misirlou" on one string of the oud.

The Beach Boys recorded a Dale-inspired "Misirlou" for the 1963 album Surfin' USA, forever making "Misirlou" a staple of American pop culture.

In 1994, Dale's version of "Misirlou" was used on the soundtrack of the motion picture Pulp Fiction, thanks to a suggestion to Quentin Tarantino from his friend Boyd Rice.

In 2006, his version once again found popularity, this time as the basis of The Black Eyed Peas' single "Pump It." Also in 2006, a cover of Dale's version was included as a playable song in the rhythm game Guitar Hero II."

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  1. Hi,

    I would like to invite you to my blogs about rebetiko. (in English) (Thorax and Mind)

    Best regards
    Kostas Ladopoulos (Stockholm, Sweden)

  2. Hi Spyro,

    is it possible to find the Missirlou 3D pic in a better resolution? (something larger to put it as a wallpaper).

    Thanks for all the sharing.

  3. Dear Kosta,

    thank you for the kind invitation!
    Excellent informations and audiovisual resources for the history of rebetiko in your blogs!

    Dear Foti,

    please send me your email,so I can send you the file.

  4. Hi spyro,
    please send it to

    thanks in advance


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