Bo Diddley, RIP


Bo Diddley is dead:

How many musicians have "borrowed" that sound over the years?

Seriously. How many?

How many?

In the words of Eric Burdon:

We were playing at the Club A Gogo in Newcastle, our home town. The doors opened one night and to our surprise walked in the man himself, Bo Diddley. Along with him was Jerome Green, his maraca man, and the Duchess, his gorgeous sister….

I overheard Bo Diddley talkin'. He turned around to Jermone Green an' he said, "Hey, Jerome? What do you think these guys doin' our, our material?"

Jerome said, "Uh, where's the bar, man? Please show me to the bar."

He turned around the Duchess an' he said, "Hey Duch, what do you think of these young guys doin' our material?"

She said, ah, "I don't know. I only came across here to see the changin' of the guards and all that jazz."

Well, Bo Diddley looked up and said to me, with half closed eyes and a smile, he said, "Man," took off his glasses, he said, "Man, that sure is the biggest load of rubbish I ever heard in my life."

NEXT: Bob Barr to Stormfront: Drop Dead

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  1. Major figure in music and highly underappreciated. RIP.

  2. Sad. Who is left alive of the 40s and 50s real deal blues acts? Buddy Guy and ??? I think Buddy may be the last one left. A whole era and and important part of cultural history is passing form living memory.

  3. B.B. King is still very much alive and well.

  4. The BIG TNT SHOW video is great (that one on the top *is* the BIG TNT SHOW, right? It won’t play for me for some reason…), but this is the best Bo vid on youtube, hands fucking down; seriously, I literally can’t imagine someone not experiencing a euphoric rush of giddiness while watching. Anyway, RIP Bo, you were on of the greats.

  5. John-

    Don’t forget Chuck Berry! Man, I can’t even imagine how sad I’ll be when Chuck goes off to his reward…

  6. Great post Jesse.

    A whole era and and important part of cultural history is passing form living memory.

    John: well said and, wait, got something in my eye here. Just a bit of dust, nothing to see here.

    Thankfully, there are some old guys who once were too hip that keep blues alive.

  7. As Willie Dixon once said…..

    The blues are the roots, everything else is the fruits.

  8. I gotta post the original version of “I Want Candy”, by The Strangeloves, from a 1965 episode of Hullabaloo with guest host Sammy Davis Jr. gettin’ down over the end-credits:

  9. The order of these posts could suggest something to the conspiracy types . . .

  10. Chops, charisma, style, humility. It’s what made those old gentlemen great.

    Rest in peace sir

  11. One of the true greats.

  12. Are George Thouroughgood(sp?) and the Deleware Destroyers going to play the wake?

  13. How could I forget BB King? Chuck is more of a rock act. I love Chuck but I was thinking more of the real deal came out of the deep south or industrial midwest bluesman like Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker, Albert King, Bo Didley, John Lee Hooker type, although Didley is more rock than any of those guys. What a shame. Has anyone ever looked cooler than Bo did in the old “Bad to the Bone” video?

  14. so many have forgotten or are too young to remmebr how important he was to rock music. 20 years ago in ohio i had some friends in a band who were lucky enough to be asked by bo diddley to open for him, and come up on stage to jam with him for a couple songs…how cool for them!

  15. jimmy,

    That rocks! You have cool friends.

  16. Even if you take away everything else he’s done, the Didley beat itself has contributed more to rock than have most 20th-century recording artists. Hell, as I was reading this article an Old 97’s song came up on my iPod with the Didley beat. He may be gone, but the beat will live on… literally.

  17. Bo paid diddley to the author of “Shave and a Haircut, two bits.” So, I can’t get worked up because others stole the beat from him.

  18. I was lucky enough to catch Bo at the old* 9:30 Club way back when. Good show, tho’ he did kill about 15 minutes in the middle of the show fussing with a broken guitar string. Kinda wrecked the buzz in the room. But still…

    *Not the new fancy-dancy 9:30 Club, but the old one on F St. that was roughly a 20 X 30 room, could barely fit 4 guys and their equipment on stage, was about 90 degrees by the end of the night and stank of sweat and beer, amongst other things.

    Rest in Peace, Bo.

  19. Bo Diddley who served as a deputy sheriff in Valencia County NM, used to live next door to one of my old friends.

    Nice guy Mr. Diddley, and a truly important innovator. TTo me he sounds the most African-influenced of the American R&B guitarists of the period. Along with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, he is my favorite.


  20. One of the best – and loudest – shows I ever saw was Bo Diddley warming up for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers at the Fillmore. That man ROCKED. Coolest part was, during Petty’s show, I’m standing there, and who appears right next to me but?Bo Diddley! I talked with him for a minute; he was super nice and humble. Did I mention how freaking hard he rocked?

    I bet the afterlife just got a lot more fun. R.I.P.

  21. cazart,

    Yeah, I was just a kid when Bo lived in Los Lunas. We didn’t even really know about his musical career at the time, and he certainly didn’t act like it was a big deal.

  22. It’s funny that the “clave” ended up being called the “Bo Diddley rhythm” in rock n roll. It’s not a coincidence Jagger played the maracas during “Not Fade Away.”


  23. Soda,

    To be fair, the Bo Diddley beat is a variation off of a traditional son clave. It moves the accent around a bit.

  24. Neu Mejican,

    You are correct. Don’t get me wrong, he’s great. I just think the whole Bo Diddley beat thing as a bit oversold. Bo Diddley did more than that.

  25. He lived in or near Archer, outside of Gainesville, for a number of years (around thirty, I think). I heard stories when I was in school at UF that he was very accessible, especially before the several resurgences he had since that time.

  26. I lived long enough and I ain’t scared of dying.

  27. In the 50s and 60s, was there some talent agency that rented out large crowds of screaming white teenage females – that possessed absolutely no sense of rhythm – to major music acts? I mean, really.

  28. Here’s another master of that great lick: Johnny Otis

    R I P, Bo.

  29. And for the obligatory Politics-n-Prog tie-in, even Genesis has used a Bo Diddley beat – at the end of “Squonk”.

  30. .. for me it’s the cover of “Who Do You Love?” by Quicksilver Messinger Service that defines the Bo Diddly sound .. the first song on the flip side of that LP is “Mona”, another Bo song and another classic for me ..

    .. if I’m trying to drive some horrid tune out of my head (like some commercial jingle or Bryon Adams song) I’ll just kick into BOMP BOMP BOMP Ba Boom Ba BOMP BOMP BOMP .. “Got forty-seven miles of barb wire…”

    .. Hobbit

  31. Gotta cobra snake neck-tie all ready for the wake. Now, who do YOU love, baby . . .

  32. Another great that has left the building,

    Jimmy McGriff

    I don’t think he and Bo ever worked together.

    That would’a been sumpin…

  33. Besides, everybody knows Chuck Berry stole his sound from a time traveling Michael J Fox.

  34. Comfort to Bo Diddley’s family and friends.

    Thanks for the interesting musical linage exposition, Jesse.

    BTW, here’s Bow Wow Wow’s 2nd biggest hit – “Baby Oh No” I dig it.

  35. George Thorogood wouldn’t have a career with out Bo Diddley:


  36. There were days that I would listen to his songs on a constant loop on my Ipod. His music was fun and a party. You play the “Bo Diddley beat” and people just get up and start hip shaking. An underappreciated pioneer. RIP, Bo Diddley. I’ll miss you.

  37. Bo Diddley: the only guy (well, along with Muddy Waters) who could sing I’m A Man without a touch of irony.

    Bo, you was da man…

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