Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bo Diddley

I have a few thoughts on the guy, which I'll collect while I walk over to my polling place. In the meantime, you can watch some Diddley beat videos at Brilliant. The extended live jam on "Mona" & "Who Do You Love" by Quicksilver Messenger Service is one of the few trippy era recordings from San Francisco I really like.

I come to praise Bo Diddley. But Bo always complaineth too much about others using his beat, which he did not invent. I can understand the anger of any pop musician from his era, especially black artists, just as I sympathize with ball players from before free agency. Of course, they deserved to be rich. But the fact of the matter is, from the British Invasion of the 60's on, Bo always got credit for his contributions to rock & roll. They were substantial, if not quite the lofty level of, say, Chuck Berry, who was a peerless genius. The greats from The Stones & The Animals on covered his songs & hailed his influence even as they used the Diddley beat in their originals. This didn't morally oblige Springsteen to add E. McDaniels (Bo's real name) to the songwriter credits of "She's the One." & because of them, Bo worked steady. He was a terrific live act. I've seen him. During some lean years in the 70s in America he resisted playing the European & British circuit & suffered financially. His later recordings had to compete with everyone else's. Rest easy, Bo. You can't take it with you anyway. You won't be forgotten.


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