Monday, June 2, 2008

BO DIDDLEY 1928 - 2008

One less giant now walks the earth: Bo Diddley has left the building. I don't have to write an obit: you can find them all over the web. He was 79, never really made the money he should have, and was one of the absolute architects of rock and roll music.

I'm not a historian or blues expert, but you really can't overstate his importance on rock and roll music. To me, he was somewhere in between the early rock and roll sounds of badasses like Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis and blues dudes like (badasses) Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Howlin' Wolf. And he was there at the beginning, he was one of the guys who created rock and roll. Dude even created his own guitar - his trademark rectangular instrument. He was a badass, big time. I'm sure when kids (especially white kids) were fans, Bo scared the crap out of thier parents.

Like a lot of people my age, my first exposure to him was when I saw him in the pool hall in George Thorogood's "Bad To The Bone" video. And then a sneaker commercial with baseball/football player Bo Jackson. But really, you find out about guys like this from more well known musicians covering his music. For me, it was The Who's "I'm A Man," Eric Clapton's "Before You Accuse Me" and The Band's "Who Do You Love?" that really got me curious. Later on, I learned that The Pretty Things named themselves after one of his songs, The New York Dolls covered "Pills," The Clash took him out on tour, Bruce Springsteen's "She's The One" is based on a Bo Diddley beat, and so on and so forth. The Beatles, Buddy Holly, The Rolling Stones and The Doors also covered his music. Talk about impact.

I'm glad I got to interview the man (at Little Steven's Underground Garage Rock Festival a few years ago) and see him perform (both at that festival, and also at Irving Plaza opening for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers).

I don't usually recommend music for historical reasons, and I won't do that here. But if you want some of the greatest rock and roll ever recorded, a soundtrack to your next backyard party, I suggest the 1990 2 CD box set The Chess Box or the 1997 release His Best.

No comments: