For years I knew nothing of Bo Diddley.
Thank goodness I came to my senses.
Although I have an extensive blues collection, not before last week had I owned any Bo Diddley albums. Following the news of his recent death however, I bought Bo Diddley’s Greatest Hits. Now I am trying to figure out how Bo Diddley passed me by for so many years.
(By the way, did you know in Philadelphia, a Bo Diddley’s Greatest Hits CD is worth 50 bucks? But I digress. Getting back to the story …)
I like to think I am pretty knowledgeable about the blues and its influence on early rock and roll. I have albums (CDs, songs, etc, etc.) by Robert Johnson, Son House, and Lightnin’ Hopkins. I have Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Howlin’ Wolf. I have BB King, Albert King, Junior Wells, and my personal favorite, Buddy Guy. But I never had any Bo Diddley.
So needless to say, once I hit play and listened to some Bo, I knew I had been in the dark all these years.
Even though I had all the aforementioned blues tunes and knew my blues history, I never knew where the rock sound of early rock and roll came from. Where did the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, and later Aerosmith get their sound? Was it a British thing? Did they make it up? No, it was Bo. Bo Diddley was my missing link in the history of rock.
Unfortunately, it took his death for me to understand the importance of Bo Diddley. Rest in peace, Bo.
P.S. However criminally underrated Bo Diddley was, multiply that by 10 and that describes Willie Dixon. He not only wrote songs for Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and dozens of others, but covers of his songs helped launch the careers of The Stones, Led Zeppelin, Cream, and countless other rock and blues groups. If he was around today, Willie Dixon would be bigger than Sean (Puffy, Diddy, whatever) Combs and Timbaland combined.