Monday, June 2, 2008
Bo Diddley - He Was a Man
Bo Diddley never got his due from the public but his influence among musicians is well acknowledged. Just ask Keith Richards about Bo. Bo Diddley's unique style was a starting point for many who followed to create their own sounds. Hendrix was extremely influenced by the sounds and tones Bo got out of his homemade guitar and that opened Hendrix up to a world of ideas of his own. His best known hits came in the 1950's and 1960's, including "I'm A Man", "Mona", and "You Can't Judge A Book By It's Cover". Go listen to U2's 'Desire' or the Stones 'Not Fade Away' and you'll hear Bo Diddley. Just about everyone in early Rock cribbed from Bo.
His death today at his home in Florida left me thinking about the time I shot him. He was like the guy that is cool because he doesn't try to be cool. I shot him in a small, dark, back alley club playing for mostly drunk frat boys in Oxford, Mississippi. He traveled with his manager, a small wiry jewish 'kid', in an old smoking beater Volvo wagon. Because he never really made any money, each place he played, he just used a pick-up band which often left him on stage teaching as much as playing. After playing that club date, he stayed overnight in a local motel. The next morning, I got to meet him for breakfast in a local cafe. Quiet and humble, he had little to say but lots to eat. He had at least three large oval platters of eggs, sausage, pancakes, biscuits and gravy and potatoes and a glass of milk. After breakfast he and his manager walked out, got in that smoking volvo, with his famed guitar in the back, and drove away to the next gig down the road. I hope he's playing a better gig tonight.