Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bo Diddley (1928-2008)

The opening chords surprise you: they sound contemporary. Bill Haley, bless him, sounds like something out of the 1940's. Even Chuck Berry, the godfather of rock guitarists, has an early sound. Bo Diddley, though -- there's no mistaking -- that's rock. He must have been the first to distort his guitar.

His most famous song, "Bo Diddley," is an improbable hit; it has no bridge, no chord changes. The infectious beat drives the song from start to finish. Bo Diddley is the only rock artist I can think of who has a beat named after him.

That his big hit was named after himself and he had two albums named Bo Diddley -- not to mention Bo Diddley Is a Lover, Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger, Bo Diddley's a Twister, Bo Diddley's Beach Party, Go Bo Diddley and many more -- prove him to be a master of self-promotion. Leftists might write something cynical here or excuse his blatant self-interest as what a black man had to do to succeed in a white man's world. Altruists always assume there must be something wrong with self-interest and the pursuit of profit; this keeps them at odds with capitalism -- and human nature. I prefer to think he was just cheerfully proud of who he was and he marketed the hell out of it. Bo Diddley became a brand name. That's show biz.

He was an American original.

(Billy Beck met him once.)

UPDATE: Slight revision.

3 comments:

LB said...

Now, I want candy!

I didn't realize that was a classic Bo Diddley beat until I heard it yesterday. He certainly was an original.

mike18xx said...

The YouTube link is dead.

Myrhaf said...

The link should work now.