Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

In Memoriam – Bo Diddley

Ellis McDaniel, the iconic, pioneering guitarist/songwriter better known as Bo Diddley, died today of complications from a stroke he had suffered three months ago, according to Associated  Press reports. He was 79.

 

Bo Diddley ranks with Louis Jordan, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Link Wray as one of the originators of rock music. With his trademark walking cane and collection of custom-made square guitars, he was a fixture on the club circuit until the last few months before his death, no doubt because he received virtually no royalties from the literally dozens of albums and popular, early R&B singles he put out over the course of a sixty-year career. His most famous hit, Who Do You Love, became a staple of classic rock radio, in cover versions by the Doors and George Thorogood. Ironically, his own original version seldom receives airplay. 

 

Bo Diddley was vastly more than his signature shave-and-a-haircut, two bits rhythm. A thoughtful, imaginative, clever lead guitarist with a devious sense of humor, he was as adept at blues and country as with his own percussively chordal rock style. Equally adept at guitar technology, he pioneered the use of electronic effects including tremolo, distortion, chorus, delay and flange long before these became commonly used in rock music. He was also fond of unusual arrangements: on many of his first singles, he accompanied himself only with his electric guitar and a percussionist rather than a full band. A frequently hilarious if curmudgeonly storyteller, he also dabbled in acting, appearing in bit parts in several popular movies including a noteworthy cameo in the first Blues Brothers movie. Throughout his career, rock bands from the Rolling Stones to ZZ Top cited him as a major influence and sought him out for jams and guest appearances at concerts and on albums.

 

In bit of trivia that the man himself undoubtedly found amusing, his first high school band was called the Hipsters.

June 2, 2008 - Posted by | Music

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