Decades before people were hyping themselves in rap, Bo Diddley was doing nothing but singing songs about Bo Diddley (while ripping the piss out of “Hush Little Baby”) and inventing the Bo Diddley beat (while actually trying to teach himself some old Gene Autry saw).
The first time I remember hearing Bo Diddley was actually a clip played on some BBC TV music quiz show, probably in the early 80s. I said something like, “what the hell…?” and my dad said, “Ssh. Listen. Listen to his guitar.” And that was it. Because it’s the sound of your heart skipping a beat. Boom-ba-boom-boom bam-boom. I don’t think Bo Diddley met a second chord in his life, he made Status Quo look like Segovia for that. It’s all about that beat. “I play the guitar as if I were playing drums,” Diddley said. See, my dad had been a drummer, and that’s what he picked up on.
People thought he was weird because he had women in his band — musicians like Peggy Jones and the Duchess, who could crank out primal blues riffs that would’ve made John Lee Hooker stand to attention.
Bo Diddley died today, aged 79.