Friday, January 2, 2009

In Memoriam: Bo Diddley

Bo Diddley - Pretty Thing [purchase]

Bo Diddley - Roadrunner [Live in '63]

Bo Diddley was more than a beat, though you can hardly blame people for being confused since he played the guitar like a drum. Diddley helped introduce a generation of white kids in America and England to hard blues and R&B at the very moment it was being rebranded into rock 'n' roll. Like Chuck Berry, Bo was one of the few early rock 'n' rollers to bring the guitar to the forefront of the band. He was an innovative guitarist, too. He was no virtuoso, but in terms of incorporating distortion and effects, he was way ahead of the curve. Listen to the live version of "Roadrunner" above and you can hear Pete Townshend, Jeff Beck, and Jimi Hendrix not far behind. More than anyone else of his generation, though, it was Bo Diddley who brought the intense, churning rhythms of the black church into his music. But hey, if all you know about Bo Diddley is that beat, that's OK, too. As long as you remember.

On a personal note, I'm indebted to Diddley because I think it was my two-part essay on the man's musical legacy where The Adios Lounge truly found its voice. If you'd like to check that out, here's Part 1 here and there's Part 2 there. To that end, here's a medley of Bo covers I put together which demonstrates the profound effect of the Diddley catalog on succeeding generations of rock musicians. For a complete list of the artists medleying with Bo, that's also available at The Adios Lounge. Check it, yo.

Medleying With Bo: A Bo Diddley Bouillabaise

If you don't like Bo, you don't know Diddley.

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