Monday, June 02, 2008

Bo Diddley dies

The great Bo Diddley has died aged 79. The sad news doesn't really come as a surprise as he suffered a stroke a year ago and hasn't performed in public since, apart from a brief song at the unveiling of a plaque in his home town of McComb, Mississippi. A true great of rock and roll, R and B and blues, Bo Diddley has influenced literally thousands of performers over the years.
My memories of Bo go back to the early sixties when he toured the UK with the Everly Brothers, supported by The Duchess and Jerome, and later with Chuck Berry. Since then I have seen him many times, in venues such as the Jazz Cafe, the Rhythmic and the House of Blues in New Orleans. Unlike some of his contemporaries he always gave 100 per cent, even when he moved rather unsuccessfully into the occasional rap number, as he did at the Jazz Cafe a while back.
From his earliest recordings in the early 1950s Bo always represented a harder, more dangerous form of rock and roll much closer to the blues than the other greats of the era. His infectious hambone beat was picked up by so many artists that he would have made a huge fortune if he had been able to trademark it. Sadly, though, he was ripped off by managers and booking agents and suffered the usual fate of black performers of not being paid the royalties he was due on his Chess record sales.
Through all of the sixties beat boom, when British bands fell over each other to cover Bo Diddley numbers, Bo survived, even surviving a misguided attempt to modernise his style. If ever a musical style didn't need updating it was Bo's, because it always sounded fresh, no matter what the tastes of the day. He continued to tour throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century, never leaving his R and B roots behind. There's an excellent biography of Bo called Bo Diddley, Living Legend, by George R White which is well worth a read. Sadly he's not a living legend any more.
Now that Bo has followed James Brown into rock and roll heaven there are but four of the fifties greats left: Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Fats Domino. Long may they survive. Farewell Bo Diddley - we will miss you.
The Times has published Bo's obituary online http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article4052550.ece
And from the Indy http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/bo-diddley-pioneer-of-rocknroll-838902.html
And The Guardian http://music.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,,2283476,00.html
And the Daily Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/2066171/Bo-Diddley.html
This a great clip of Bo from 1966 with the Duchess and the Bo-Ettes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBAJXyF1HVc

2 Comments:

At 12:42 am , Blogger Dave C said...

A very knowledgeable obituary from Timesonline. A shame, therefore, that there didn't appear to be any accreditation. Any idea who it was?

 
At 8:33 am , Anonymous Nick said...

Unfortunately they never say who writes obiruaries and it's no doubt been on the stocks awaiting this event for ages. Well written and knowledgable I agree.

 

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