Thursday, 29 May 2008

Bo Diddley, RIP

Damn! In this day and age, with rock so establishment, it's easy to forget how absolutely, transcendently primal rock and roll was in its heyday. This is just pure rhythm and showmanship - check those moves! - with very little in the way of what we've come to think of as virtuosity. And yet, so very, deeply, virtuous!

Rest in peace, big guy. One of the giants, and he stayed true all the way to 79...

From the New York Times...

"Bo Diddley, a singer and guitarist who invented his own name, his own guitars, his own beat and, with a handful of other musical pioneers, rock ’n’ roll itself, died Monday at his home in Archer, Fla. He was 79. The cause was heart failure, a spokeswoman, Susan Clary, said. Mr. Diddley had a heart attack last August, only months after suffering a stroke while touring in Iowa.In the 1950s, as a founder of rock ’n’ roll, Mr. Diddley — along with Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and a few others — helped reshape the sound of popular music worldwide, building it on the templates of blues, Southern gospel, R&B and postwar black American vernacular culture.

His original style of rhythm and blues influenced generations of musicians. And his Bo Diddley syncopated beat — three strokes/rest/two strokes — became a stock rhythm of rock ’n’ roll.

It can be found in Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away,” Johnny Otis’s “Willie and the Hand Jive,” the Who’s “Magic Bus,” Bruce Springsteen’s “She’s the One” and U2’s “Desire,” among hundreds of other songs.

Yet the rhythm was only one element of his best records. In songs like “Bo Diddley,” “Who Do You Love,” “Mona,” “Crackin’ Up,” “Say, Man,” “Ride On Josephine” and “Road Runner,” his booming voice was loaded up with echo and his guitar work came with distortion and a novel bubbling tremelo. The songs were knowing, wisecracking and full of slang, mother wit and sexual cockiness. They were both playful and radical."