Bo Diddley died today. I don’t know what to say about him that hasn’t already been said. Of the original school of fifties rockers, he was definitely the most punk, as well as possibly the most influential–way more so than Elvis, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, and even perhaps Chuck Berry. It was Bo’s beat that you hear in Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away,” in the Strangelove’s “I Want Candy,” in the Pretty Things’ “Rosalyn,” and in at least one song from virtually every rocker of the sixties, from Dick Dale to the Rolling Stones to Quicksilver Messenger Service to the Animals. He had a sexual swagger that topped even Dion’s “The Wanderer,” and the kind of self-aggrandizement (his first hit, “Bo Diddley,” was his own name!) that predated the hip hop world’s self-referential lyricism by a couple decades. And for those who say that American garage bands were simply clones of the British Invasion, just listen to some of those chords and congas from the Back From the Grave compilations, and oh yeah, you know they loved them some Bo Diddley.
Bo Diddley appeared in so many great film and television performances from his early years, but I think I’ll let Bo eulogize himself with this performance from London, 1972. No Mod Cons here! I think I see some Let It Rock patrons finger poppin’ in the audience.
UPDATE: I would be remiss in my obituarism if I didn’t include a performance by Lily Marlene of Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?” She’s so awesome. George Thorogood can suck my dick.