Bo Diddley Gone But The Beat Lives!

Rock and Roll pioneer Bo Diddley passed away today at the age of 79 in Archer, Florida. Although inducted into the R & R Hall of Fame (1987) along with Chuck Berry and Little Richard he never achieved the financial success of Berry and Richard. He was an ingenious craftsman as well as a unique musician. He would build his own guitars that combined unusual musical effects and he played guitar more like a percussion instrument.* A 2003 NY Times profile is one of the best articles about him that I have found. There are many videos of his performances; here is a good example.

*He did not treat the guitar gently. ”I couldn’t play like everyone else,” he said. ”Guitarists have skinny fingers. I didn’t. Look at these. I got meat hooks. Size 12 glove.” He came to approach the guitar as if it were a drum set, thrusting the music forward. ”I play drum licks on the guitar,” he said. The result was an unusual sound — later played on his hand-built, exotically shaped guitars — that evolved into a distinctive backbeat, described by music historians as the meter of ”shave-and-a-haircut, two bits.” In the background he added maracas, which he built from toilet-tank floats, giving the music a Latin texture, and he gave more rhythm to the drum beat. The lyrics were often delivered staccato, adding to the pounding rhythm.

More bio here.

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One Response to “Bo Diddley Gone But The Beat Lives!”

  1. lvn600 Says:

    John-I have to put my password in every time I comment on your blog.It doesn’t seem to remember me.-I don’t know if that’s from my end or your end.-Anyhow-I’ve got a large blues collection.-I hadn’t heard that Bo Diddley died.-Sorry to hear that.

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