Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Bo Diddley Memory

I had the privilege of seeing Bo Diddley live at a concert in Montreal in the sixties. The British invasion was a couple of years old and the influence of artists like Diddley on the Stones and others was well known among blues fans. But Diddley himself was not a huge drawing card. So he was booked to play a few gigs in the intimate setting of a Montreal nightclub. The club decided to have a Sunday afternoon matinee without alcohol being served so teens could attend. My brother and I and some friends all went (we were teens at the time - probably 1965 when I was 16) and got seats at a table maybe ten or twenty feet from the stage...pretty damn close.
Bo was amazing. Flashy guitar work, great sound and so up close.

Interestingly, Bo played guitar differently than many. Instead of playing chords by moving his fingers around to different positions, he tuned his guitar to the key he wanted so the major chord was played by covering all the strings with a slider. Then he played different chords by just moving the slider bar up and down the fret board. If he played a song in a different key, he retuned the guitar. I'd never seen that done before (or since).

Bo Diddley was one of the best live shows I've ever seen and will always be a fond memory of my teen years.


steenbeck said...

Thank you for the story. I realized watching the videos last night--he kept reminding me of people, musically, or with his dancing style, or even sartorially--but he came FIRST! I think more musicians owe more to him than I had ever realized.

ejaydee said...

I loved his sliding feet dance

Mnemonic said...

I've been transferring a lot of my old VHS tapes to DVD and, two days ago, one of them was an Arena documentary on the Everly Brothers. Lo and behold, there is a long clip of Bo Diddley and they credit him as being the biggest influence on their music after the Country music they were almost born playing.