Tuesday, June 03, 2008

BO DIDDLEY R.I.P.


(Above: Bo in concert with 'The Twang Machine')

by ROD ICE

Bo Diddley
December 30, 1928 – June 2, 2008


So much has already been written about this incredible icon of popular music. Along with Chuck Berry, he took the bedrock of blues guitar and forged it into something new. Something irresistible. Something kids in the 1950's couldn't embrace quickly enough.

Rock 'n' Roll.

Rock music was the soundtrack for a generational revolution. It helped spur masses of talented young people across the world to think beyond the strict paradigms that had bound their parents.

Diddley (Ellas Otha Bates / McDaniel) came from Mississippi to the hard streets of Chicago. There, like so many others, he ingested the culture of 'electrified blues' as it was reinterpreted in a northern setting.

The result was something familiar, but new. A chunky, syncopated beat rhythmically strummed on the amplified guitar.

The album 'Two Great Guitars' featured Diddley chopping out two-chord compositions, while Berry offered his own three-chord visions.

Together, the pair laid a foundation built upon by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and generations that followed.


(Above, right: Legendary Clevelander Dennis Chandler's 'Bo' guitar, backstage at Jefferson Days in 2007. Chandler was a student of Bo Diddley, acquiring inspiration and skill from the venerable bluesmaster. And - this 'Twang Machine' of his own.)

Much can be said of this rebellious hero-with-a-supercharged-plectrum. But perhaps the best way to remember Diddley's prolific and enduring career is through remembering the man in his own, colorful words:

I walk 47 miles of barbed wire,
I use a cobra-snake for a necktie,
I got a brand new house on the roadside,
Made from rattlesnake hide,
I got a brand new chimney made on top,
Made out of a human skull,
Now come on take a walk with me, Arlene,
And tell me, who do you love?


Rest in peace, Brother D.

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