Bo Diddley, a man who re-shaped our idea of popular music with his invention of “Rock n’ Roll,” died today at age 79. The guitar great will be dearly missed . Although the title “father of rock n’ roll” was often credited to others, perhaps with his passing popular culture will finally acknowledge Diddley as the true inventor of the genre, with his signature rock beat (three strokes/rest/two strokes) which defined rock n’ roll. He was a hero to everyone from The Beatles to The Stones to The Clash. Sadly we won’t be able to see his famously wild performances anymore (except via youtube), but his vision of re-worked blues, southern gospel, and R&B will continue to influence musicians from all genres. Listen to Kirk Douglas, The Roots‘ guitar player, reminisce about Bo Diddley after the click.
Kirk Douglas, aka. Capn’ Kirk:
There’s no way to overestimate Bo Diddley’s influence over modern music. From Buddy Holley’s “Not Fade Away” to Grease’s “Born To Hand Jive” (from the musical) to George Michael’s “Faith” to Pat Benatar’s “Love Is A Battlefield” to U2′s “Desire” to The Cure’s “Close to You”- it all traces back to songs like “Who Do You Love” and others from Diddley. As the inventor of the Bo Diddley beat he’s practically the prototype “beat-maker.” These are some of the lyrics from “Who Do You Love”:
I walk 47 miles of barbed wire,
I use a cobra-snake for a necktie,
I got a brand new house on the roadside,
Made from rattlesnake hide,
I got a brand new chimney made on top,
Made out of a human skull,
Now come on take a walk with me, arlene,
And tell me, who do you love?
And this was 1956! People were used to hearing “Who Is That Doggy In The Window” and then, blam, here comes Bo Diddley. You can see his influence on hip-hop, rap lyrics, and even Black Thought’s lyricism here as well. We were very lucky to have him around as long as we did, and I was lucky enough to have met Bo Diddley the last time we played in Australia. I was with Hub and we met him at a festival, and it was truly an honor.