Monday, June 02, 2008

So Long Bo Diddley….

Bo Diddley died today at the age of 79. I've been a great admirer of his music since childhood. My mother, having grown up in the 1950s, always had a special place in her heart for her three idols – Elvis, Chuck Berry and of course, Bo Diddley - and she was sure to impart this love of music to her children.

His innovative sound and unmistakable riffs have cemented him into the pantheon of rock and roll, yet I’ve always thought of Bo Diddley as a blues man. His recordings with Muddy Waters, Little Walter and Howlin Wolf are a testament to just how good the blues can be. Songs like Who Do You Love?, I’m a Man, and my personal favorite, Roadrunner are not mere songs, but full blown masculine exclamations that reverberate in your gut and shake you to your soul, soaring far above any pop standards that may have been born out of the subdued and tamed elements wrangled out of these masterpieces.

I was fortunate to have seen Bo Diddley perform some years ago at the Mohegan Sun casino. It was a free show, and the old man and I waited in line for a very long time to get in – all the while wondering if Bo would be too old or out of it to really perform. But how could we doubt the sheer power of this man? The minute he took the stage we knew that he was in fine form and that everything was gonna be all right!

His guitar was this strange box of a thing that produced a sound unlike anything I had ever heard. It was as if he crafted this instrument with his own two hands and only he had the skill and knowledge to play it. And play he did – loud, strong and at times hilariously – and the crowd ate it whole. It’s always the old blues men who are able to consistently “bring it” when they perform for one simple reason: they don’t try to change their music to fit the times. The times invariably fit the music.
So thank you Bo Diddley, for sharing your tremendous talent with all of us. You are loved and missed.

No comments: