Bum da dum bum ba dum bum. Bo Diddley, nicknamed “The Originator”, is often attributed much credit towards the solidification of rock and roll as a genre. Bo Diddley pioneered the “Bo Diddley beat”, an easily recognizable, pounding rhythmic standard. Bo Diddley and his unique style are viewed as a major inspiration to many foundational artists such as Buddy Holly, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, The “Bo Diddley beat” has echoed through seventy years of rock and pop music and is featured in songs from “Not Fade Away” by Buddy Holly, to “I Want Candy” by Bow Wow Wow (originally by The Strangeloves), to various others by David Bowie, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, the Stooges, Bruce Springsteen, the Clash, Tom Petty, Guns N’ Roses, U2, and more. Bo Diddley incorporated traditional African rhythmic styles and distorted guitar tones into the rockabilly trend of the time to create his signature, driving sound that has inspired countless in his wake.
The song “Bo Diddley” pulses with an unlimited energy. The rhythms and feel of the song seem intrinsic to the climatic, gripping effect of music. The beat, coupled with Bo Diddley’s calling, melodic voice creates an echo chamber of reassurance, one that seems to say that though the craziness of the world seems to come in many forms, the whole of human experience and the variance of all of those in it is not as far apart as it can seem. Bo Diddley’s world of playful, nursery rhyme-esque melody and other-wordly guitar tones float in parallel to the complement of his seminole beat pattern. The aspects of the song combine to create a monolith of the essence of rock and roll, in that which takes the listener to toe with their problems and teaches them to dance with them. “Bo Diddley” pounds and pulses with insistent energy. The beat pattern which has helped drive rock and roll performed by the man who pioneered its style in recorded music melds with the mind of the listener, and Bo Diddley’s voice leads in the direction of freedom.
In 1955, Bo Diddley performed this song on the Ed Sullivan Show and afterwards was banned from the show for life. He wasn’t banned because of a bad performance, but because Ed Sullivan asked him to perform a different song before the show. Diddley’s setlist read Bo Diddley - Sixteen Tons (the name of the song he was scheduled to play). The list was meant to include “Bo Diddley” as Bo Diddley’s name, but Bo Diddley misread the setlist and instead performed his self-titled hit. The song he did play, “Bo Diddley”, spend 18 weeks on the R&B charts, including two weeks at #1, and went on to influence rock and roll history.
“Bo Diddley bought his babe a diamond ring
If that diamond ring don't shine
He gonna take it to a private eye
If that private eye can't see
He'd better not take the ring from me
Mojo come to my house
Take my baby away from home
Ugly ask Mojo, where has he been?
Up your house, and gone again”
You can learn more about Bo Diddley here:
About the Curator - Sean Arison
Sean is a musician, writer, and artist currently studying psychology near Los Angeles, California. He really enjoys nice smelling fauna and homely ambient lighting. After exclusively listening to the Beatles, Beethoven, and Pink Floyd until the age of fourteen, he now possesses a wide music taste and loves discovering and sharing the beautiful art that he comes across. Sean loves how music is able to indefinably connect to the individual on such a unique and personal level. Sean is currently working on releasing his first full-length album in the near future. To know more, connect with Sean on Instagram!
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