My obsession with guitars is well known, so you won’t be surprised that I was incredibly disappointed yesterday to see the news that Bo Diddley had passed away at the age of 79. The New York Times has a very good overview of the man and his career here.
I had been fascinated with metal guitar players since I first plugged that Kiss cartridge into my red, battery-powered eight track player in second grade. But by junior high and early high school, I started discovering the blues and R&B players that formed so much of the foundation of rock and roll. My father told me stories from his college days of seeing Bo Diddley playing a nearby fraternity house and that turned me on to the “Bo Diddley beat.”
It’s amazing to think that the man got so much sound of his axe with just one finger. “Rather than fingering the fretboard, Mr. Diddley said, he tuned the guitar to an open E and moved a single finger up and down to create chords,” according to the Times article.
Diddley was also known for his unusual square shaped guitar which must have been a bitch to play sitting down. But, famous for his stage moves, Diddley probably didn’t take it easy too often while playing. He did, for a while, endorse a Gretsch model that was a bit more curved and looked more like a “normal” guitar. But we’ll always associate him with that rectangular instrument he played for years.
Before you go to bed tonight, play a good Diddley tune or just sound out the beat yourself (One and two and three and four and one and two and three and four and…), and send up a prayer for ole Bo.