Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hey, Bo Diddley!... The Bo Diddley Story and Show # 201


Bo Diddley was born as Ellas Otha Bates in McComb, Mississippi in 1928. He grew up with his mother's cousin and was adopted. He would adapt his name changing it to Ellas McDaniel. As a kid he took violin lessons and when moving to Chicago and hearing John Lee Hooker, he decided to take up the guitar. He would begin his guitar career playing on street corners and in 1951, he got a residency in Chicago at the 708 Club. His music was influenced by the likes of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Louis Jordan. Besides being a musician Diddley also worked as a carpenter and mechanic. He Changed his name to Bo Diddley. There are three places where the name is said to have originated from. One being a southern slang "He ain't bo diddley" which means nothing at all, the other is to have been from the nick name of a boxer, and the third is from a one stringed instrument known as a diddly bow.

In 1954, Bo Diddley and a set of musicians Clifton James (drums), Roosevelt Jack (bass), Billy Boy Arnold (Harmonica) recorded demos of the songs "Bo Diddley" and "I'm A Man". They would re-record the songs with a backing section at Chess Studios and in 1955 the single "Bo Diddley/I'm A Man" was released. It went to number one on the R&B charts. Bo was known for his rhythm style which was known as the Bo Diddly Beat. The style is said to have originated from street musicians and Rhumba/Clave beat. Regardless of it's origins it has been influential on rock music since Diddly started playing it. Along with fellow Chess artist Chuck Berry, Bo and Chuck could be seen as not only the founding fathers of rock and roll, but also innovators.

The Bo Diddley beat can be heard in the songs "Hey Bo Diddley" and "Who Do You Love?". The style somewhat resembling an oncoming train sound, rarely changes notes. Bo would use a variety of styles through out his career along with his Bo Diddley beat. Bo was also known for his homemade square Gretsch guitar which he called, "The Twang Machine". In November of 1955, Bo Diddley appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. He was asked to perform a cover song, but instead did his song "Bo Diddley". This made Ed Sullivan extremely mad who banned him from further appearances; He also said that Bo Diddly wouldn't last six months, he was wrong about that one.

He did have some minor hits with songs such as "Say Man" in 1959, and "You Can't Judge a Book By Looking at the cover" in 1962. Despite having a number one with "Bo Diddley" he did not do well commercially. He recorded at total of eleven full length albums for Checker (a sub-label of Chess). Bo also had interesting album titles such as Have Guitar, Will Travel (1959), Bo Diddley's a Gunslinger (1961), and Bo Diddley's Twister (1962). As the 60's came Bo's influence came through in the new form of rock. Bands such as The Rolling Stones, The Pretty Things, The Yardbirds, and The Animals. "Bo Diddley" was actually covered by Buddy Holly and when the Rolling Stones covered Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away", they gave it a Bo Diddley rhythm.

In 1963, he toured in the UK with The Everly Brothers, Little Richard and Rolling Stones. In 1979, he opened for The Clash on their tour. He would continue playing live and recording off and on through out his career. In 1987, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1983 he appeared in the film Trading Places, and starred in a series of Nike commercials with Bo Jackson. In the 70's he also spent some time in New Mexico where he worked as a Deputy Sheriff, he then moved to Archer, Florida.


On June 2nd, 2008 Bo Diddley passed away due to heart failure, he was 79. He left a large lasting effect on the world of rock music. His music has been covered by and influenced by many musicians. He was influential on the early punk scene by bands such as New York Dolls and The Clash, who covered a few Diddley songs during the London Calling Sessions. He was also influential to the likes of Elvis Presley, Rolling Stones, David Bowie, The Clash, The Pretenders, The Supremes, to The White Stripes.

The Play LIst:

1. Bo Diddley - Hey, Bo Diddley!
2. Bo Diddley - I Can Tell
3. Bo Diddley - You Can't Judge a Book By Looking at the Cover
4. Buffalo Springfield - Mr. Soul
5. Gruesomes - Get Outta My Hair
6. Faud and the Feztones - Cool Bird
7. The Diodes - Terminal Rock
8. Extroverts - Living in Poverty
9. Hot Nasites - Get Away From Me
10. Futureheads - Radio Heart
11. The Smiths - London
12. The Police - Truth Hits Everybody
13. Wire - Outdoor Miner
14. Black Lips - O Katrina!
15. Raconteurs - Top Yourself
16. Awesome Color - Already Down
17. Luger Boa - 1000 Hooks
18. Valedictions - Hey Lady
19. Mudhoney - I'm Now
20. Supergrass - Caught By the Fuzz
21. Sloan - Emergency 911
22. Sloan - I'm Not a Kid Anymore
23. Dirty Pretty Things - Tired of England
24. Ramones - Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment
25. Richard Hell & The Voidoids - Lowest Common Denominator
26. Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Senior Service
27. The Clash - Koka Kola

Bo Videos:

Hey, Bo Diddley & Bo Diddley
You Can't Judge A Book By It's Cover
Road Runner/Mona (Live 1972)
I"m A Man (Live)
Road Runner/Bring It To Jerome/Mona (Live Whembly Stadium 1972)

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