Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Bo Diddley Beat

When you hear the Bo Diddley beat, you know it's the Bo Diddley beat.  What I remember most about Bo Diddley (1928-2008) -- the time he played to an audience numbering in the low hundreds at the Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, quite a little while ago -- was this: he was a man, and he was cool. He had black-rimmed glasses, and one of his electric guitars was rigged with bright lights like a big city. He played, in addition to songs from his "classic" repertoire, an original reggae number and some jazzy stuff, too. But mostly, he was slow burn heavy energy thump and sizzle, the man who inspired the Rolling Stones to cover, say, his 1960 song "Road Runner" and his 1957 B-side "Mona (I Need You Baby)." 

Bo Diddley was smart, talented, innovative, charismatic and influential -- all dosed with a sharp sense of humor.

Top image: Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger (1960) -- fourteen years before Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles.  Sessions included a whole range of interesting people like electric guitarist Lady Bo (Peggy Jones)* -- still performing in 2012; Otis Spann, Willie Dixon and Harvey Fuqua. Let's not forget Leonard Chess and the Bo-ettes: Gloria Morgan and Bee Bee Jamieson. 

*For more on Lady Bo, Go here: http://www.ladybo.com/

Today's Rune: Fertility.


Charles Gramlich said...

Gotta say I like that pose in the pic. I'm a sucker for that old west stuff.

Anonymous said...

Warren Zevon (who once also played "Chapel Hills") had a song called "Bo Diddley's a Gunslinger".