June 2, 2008

Goodbye to one of the giants of the original rock 'n' roll: Bo Diddley.

He was 79. Thanks for all the great music and for that Bo Diddley beat:
It can be found in Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away,” Johnny Otis’s “Willie and the Hand Jive,” Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride,” The Who’s “Magic Bus,” Bruce Springsteen’s “She’s the One” and U2’s “Desire,” among hundreds of other songs.
Note the audio clips in the sidebar at the link showing the beat in those all those songs. The whole obituary — by Ben Ratliff — is well worth reading. Did he invent that beat? We're told that the children’s game "hambone" had a similar beat. (Here's some hambone.)

Bo Diddley's original name was Otha Ellas Bates, and later Ellas B. McDaniel. He studied classical violin when he was 7, began guitar at 12, and kept studying violin until he was 15. "My technique comes from bowing the violin, that fast wrist action."

His first band was the Hipsters, later the Langley Avenue Jive Cats. His first single was "Bo Diddley," in 1955, and here you can see him playing it in 1966:

He lived a long time, but it's sad to see one of the last of the originators of rock 'n' roll leave us.


Ron said...

Warren Zevon had a great song, "Bo Diddley's a gunslinger." They're all goin'...

vbspurs said...

NO! What is happening...everyone of note is dying this year.

(Had no idea he lived in Florida, and was a born again Christian until I read his obit)



Kirk Parker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirk Parker said...

"NO! What is happening...everyone of note is dying this year."

I just look at that and figure: I'm obviously set to live a nice long life, then. :-)

Trooper York said...

Bo knew alot more than just diddley.

Chip Ahoy said...

I did not know any of this, but that sure was da bomb!

Chet said...

Harvey Korman never got an obituary on this blog.

George M. Spencer said...

Somewhere in heaven the rabbit hugs a hound.

Ann Althouse said...

Chet, I don't blog about everyone who dies. The need to have meant something to me. I never watched Harvey Korman.

Beth said...

Thanks for that video, Ann. Gosh, youtube is wonderful.

The audience was as intriguing as the performance. Why is it almost all female? What's that song, "the men don't know, but the little girls understand"?

I liked that the singer playing guitar with him on the second tune was playing his signature square box.

merrymary said...

Neat video - and I too, found it fascinating that one of women was playing guitar! That is surely unusual - even today! He was way ahead of his time in many ways! Rock on Mr. B.

George M. Spencer said...

Mr. Diddley's guitarist in the video was either Lady Bo or the Dutchess.

After the Sullivan gig, he didn't play network TV for a decade, perhaps because Ed had him banned for not playing what he was told to play.

Sez the NYT obit.

Beth said...

Coincidentally, there are two movies about Chess records currently in production. One of them, an indie called "Chess" has been shooting around New Orleans for the past couple of months. The other is a big studio thing, "Cadillac Records," with Beyonce and some other big names. I'm looking forward to both of them.

Captain USpace said...

This is so sad, he was just amazing. I saw him probably around 1990 at the old Ritz in NYC. I was very high, and about 20 feet from the stage mostly the whole time, including when he played this song. Everybody was pulsating, you could feel the bass, the energy intense, it was totally wild. I can still picture the scene, I'll never forget it. One of the most incredible shows I've ever seen. Before and since.

Thank you very much for bringing me this very sad news and this great video. It's going in my 'Music Videos' section.

Your music will live forever, RIP Bo.

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
rock and roll is evil

it's the devil's best music
and dancing to it is sin

Philosophy of Liberty Cartoon


Revenant said...

What I'd like to know is who originated the blues trope of "blah blah hill/blah blah blah/blah blah her sister will". I don't think I could easily count the number of songs that sequence shows up in.

John Cunningham said...

A sad loss. I saw Bo Diddley place once, in the late 90s. It was the Alaska Blues Festival, at a park with a great view of Denali to the north about June 21. Diddley was the headliner, and he started with "Who do you Love" about midnight, with the sun going behind Denali....what an amazing player!!

Anonymous said...

RIP, Bo. Every time I read that a rock and roll pioneer has passed away, I can't help but think that Les Paul's contribution to rock and roll cannot be understated.

The invention of the electric guitar, especially Paul's Fender Stratocaster, was the killer app that made rock happen. Every electric guitar palyer form 1951 forward owes Les Paul a debt of gratitude.