Posts Tagged ‘blues music’

Bo Diddley Gone But The Beat Lives!

June 2, 2008

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.