Monday, June 02, 2008

To The Memory Of Bo Diddley

Ellas Otha Bates (later McDaniel, after adoption), passed away today leaving the “Bo Diddley beat” I first heard on the recording “Bo Diddley.” I heard it twice in a row in our car as I came across the long, long causeway through the swamp out to where I lived. The dj at WICC, where I would eventually work, said another dj came in and wanted to hear it. I suspect he had nothing else ready.

His beat, described as an African 5/4 rhythm, was adopted by many musicians. I loved it. I think the AP’s opening sentence for their article is just great: “Bo Diddley, a founding father of rock 'n' roll whose distinctive ‘shave and a haircut, two bits’ rhythm…” That probably describes his innovative style better than any other way.

He had many honors, this legendary singer and performer, known for his homemade square guitar who also played for the elder President Bush and President Clinton.

He appreciated the honors he received, “but it didn't put no figures in my checkbook. If you ain't got no money, ain't nobody calls you honey,” he quipped.

“You gotta think in terms of what people's lives is based on." He took his own advice: Many of Bo Diddley's most famous songs were about Bo Diddley. “Bo Diddley bought his babe a diamond ring…” Or these lyrics from one song: “Bo Diddley caught a nanny goat, To make his pretty baby a Sunday coat.” And, “Bo Diddley caught a bear cat, To make his pretty baby a Sunday hat.”


Anonymous MadDrummer said...

True story:

About 6 years ago our son calls us from Gainesville one Sunday around 7PM and asks his mom "Guess where I was this afternoon?" Her response: "In jail?"

"Lemme talk to dad"

Seems sonny boy, working at Radio Shack in Gainesville befriended some old black guy who would come in to buy assorted audio cables. ("He dressed like he had a landscaping business but was actually a musician.")

He invited my son and his friend to jam with him at his place, drew him a map to Archer and set a time. I got a description of the double-wides on a farm, the recording equipment and the fun.

Somewhere between microphones and amps he said "weird square guitar". I stopped him in mid-sentence with: "what's this guys name?" "oh, Bo Diddley." BO DIDDLEY!? YOU WERE JAMMIN' WITH BO DIDDLEY!!!???

"Yeah. Why? You know him?"

I won't bore you with the details of the rest of the story - as neat as they are. Or my "I hope you know how fortunate you are (sermon)"

I saw his handwritten directions written on a tattered piece of paper - artistically legible.

I heard first hand how he loved music, loved the new generations of musicians, loved jamming with them, sharing with them, and how he so hated rap.

Bo was authentic to the bone.

I envy my boy.

Jimi's gotta be tuning up and ready to trade licks.

June 02, 2008 9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Drummer.......What a great event. You and your son and all and he getting to jam with Bo......Aw man!

Thanx for sharing the story.

Am going to transfer the blog to a friend who runs a blues show on Friday evenings ( )


June 03, 2008 6:04 AM  
Anonymous maddrummer said...

You're welcome.

My son was very saddened at the news of Bo's passing. There is something to be said about jamming with a good musician. It goes to the soul. No age, no color, no politics, no nothin': pure.

CKRL, huh? I remember scanning the dial as a teen and running into CKLW!
What a powerhouse!

June 05, 2008 9:18 PM  

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