Bo Diddley  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Bo Diddley (December 30, 1928June 2, 2008), born Ellas Otha Bates, aka "The Originator", was an influential American rock and roll singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Often cited as a key figure in the transition from blues to rock and roll, he introduced more insistent, driving rhythms and a hard-edged guitar sound. He was also known for his characteristic rectangular guitar.

Bo Diddley beat

Bo Diddley was well known for the "Bo Diddley beat," a rumba-like beat (see clave), similar to "hambone", a style used by street performers who play out the beat by slapping and patting their arms, legs, chest, and cheeks while chanting rhymes. Referred to as a "shave and a haircut" beat, Diddley came across it while trying to play Gene Autry's "(I've Got Spurs That) Jingle, Jangle, Jingle". Three years before Bo's "Bo Diddley", a song that closely resembles it, "Hambone," was cut by Red Saunders' Orchestra with The Hambone Kids.

In its simplest form, the Bo Diddley beat can be counted out as a two-bar phrase:

"One and two and three and four and one and two and three and four and..." The bolded counts are the clave rhythm.

Cover versions and tributes

The Bo Diddley beat has been used by many other artists, notably Elvis Presley ("His Latest Flame"); Bruce Springsteen ("She's The One"); U2 ("Desire"); The Smiths ("How Soon Is Now?"); Roxette ("Harleys And Indians (Riders In The Sky)"); Dee Clark, a former member of the Hambone Kids (see above) ("Hey Little Girl"); Johnny Otis ("Willie and the Hand Jive"); George Michael ("Faith"); Normaal ("Kearl van stoahl"); The Strangeloves ("I Want Candy"); Guns N' Roses ("Mr. Brownstone"); David Bowie ("Panic in Detroit"); The Pretenders ("Cuban Slide"); The Police ("Deathwish"); Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders ("The Game of Love"); The Supremes ("When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes"); Jefferson Airplane ("She Has Funny Cars"); The White Stripes ("Screwdriver"); The Byrds ("Don't Doubt Yourself, Babe"); Tiny Letters ("Song For Jerome Green") and The Stooges ("1969"). The early Rolling Stones sound was strongly associated with their versions of "Not Fade Away" and "I Need You Baby (Mona)".The Who's "Magic Bus" also is based upon the distinctive "Bo Diddley Beat". His own songs have been frequently covered. The Clash recorded "Mona" during the London Calling sessions. The Animals and Bob Seger both recorded "The Story of Bo Diddley". The Who, The Remains and The Yardbirds covered "I'm a Man", and The Woolies, George Thorogood and Juicy Lucy had hits with "Who Do You Love", which was also covered by Quicksilver Messenger Service, Patti Smith and The Jesus and Mary Chain, and was a concert favorite of The Doors. Chris Isaak covered "Diddley Daddy" on his third album, Heart Shaped World. Diddley's "Road Runner" was also frequently covered in concert by bands including Humble Pie and The Who, and on Aerosmith's album Honkin' on Bobo. Guru Guru - a popular Krautrock band - performed "Bo Diddley" on their live album Essen 1970, though the track cuts off rather abruptly at the twelve-minute mark. Both Eric Clapton and Creedence Clearwater Revival covered "Before You Accuse Me". Velvet Underground drummer Maureen Tucker counts Diddley as one of her chief influences and covered "Bo Diddley" on her solo album, Life in Exile After Abdication. Tom Petty has played "I Need You Baby (Mona)" in concert, and even performed it with Diddley himself in 1999.

In 1963, Buddy Holly's version of "Bo Diddley" provided him with a top-ten posthumous hit in the UK, peaking at No. 7 in the summer of that year. The B-side of Holly's 1958 hit, "Oh Boy", namely "Not Fade Away" (written in part by Holly under the pseudonym Charles Hardin [he was christened Charles Hardin Holley]) also featured the classic Bo Diddley beat and inspired The Rolling Stones 1964 version, which was their second UK release (peaking at No. 7 in the UK early in 1964) and their first release in the United States.

Muddy Waters' "Mannish Boy" (originally "Manish Boy") was an adaptation of Bo Diddley's "I'm a Man" and also an answer song, the title being Muddy Waters' take on his younger rival. Tiny Letters recorded a song called "song to Jerome Green," about Bo's maraca player. "Say Man" was Bo Diddley's only Top 40 hit. David Lindley recorded a tribute song entitled "Pay Bo Diddley". The Jesus and Mary Chain covered "Who Do You Love" on their 12" "April Skies" in 1987 and in the same year recorded a tribute song "Bo Diddley is Jesus" on a 2x7". Elliott Murphy used both his name and beat in his song "Bilbao Bo Diddley". Ronnie Hawkins recorded and covered "Hey Bo Diddley", "Bo Diddley" and "Who Do You Love" during his many recording sessions, including those with his backing band of the time, The Hawks, who later became known as The Band. The Finnish rock/blues band Max on the Rox also covered "Who Do You Love" in their second album, Rox II.

Diddley was also very popular by proto-punk musicians and later in the punk scene. For example both the New York Dolls and The Lurkers recorded their own version of his song "Pills", and Diddley was the opening act on The Clash's first U.S. tour.

Bo Diddley's song "Who Do You Love" can be heard in the intro credits to the movie La Bamba.

He also appeared on a 2003 episode of the sitcom According to Jim entitled "Bo Diddley".

He also had a small role as a pawnbroker in the 1983 film Trading Places, starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd.

Appeared in George Thorogood's "Bad To The Bone" video. The song "Bad To The Bone" itself is a re-work of Diddley's "I'm A Man."




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Bo Diddley" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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