Died June 2, 2008, Archer, Florida.
(Revised a day later to add new tributes and Bo’s Ed Sullivan story in his own words.)
By now, you know Bo Diddley, one of the giants of rock ‘n’ roll, has passed. He was 79 and had been in declining health since a stroke in May 2007. He was to have played in our town later that month, but that was not to be.
The best Bo Diddley quote of the day, from the Orlando Sentinel’s story: “Elvis was fantastic, but he did not start it. He was 2 1/2 years behind me.”
The best Bo Diddley story of the day: In 1955, Bo was booked on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” the dominant TV variety show of its time. If you played Sullivan, you’d arrived. Bo told the story to Billy Watkins of the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger in 2005:
“Sullivan had asked me to sing ‘Sixteen Tons,’ the old Tennessee Ernie Ford hit. When I saw a list of the program, it read ‘Bo Diddley. Sixteen Tons.’ Well, I had a No. 1 song called ‘Bo Diddley,’ so I thought he wanted me to play both. But he only wanted the one song played. The show was live, so it wasn’t like we could stop.
“Afterward, he came unglued backstage. He said something to me I won’t repeat, and I told him I’d punch him out. My manager was saying, ‘But, Bo, this is Ed Sullivan.’ I told him I didn’t care who he was, that I was gonna bust (Sullivan’s) lip if he said another word. That guy was a control freak.”
Yeah, Bo knows.
“Sixteen Tons,” Bo Diddley, from “Bo Diddley is a Gunslinger,” 1960.
Lots of tributes to Bo Diddley today, and rightfully so. Go check ’em out.
From the newspapers: Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Orlando Sentinel, Washington Post and USA Today (the latter offering a list of five essential Bo Diddley tracks — great fodder for debate). Also, the Post’s music blog has some YouTube videos of artists inspired by Bo Diddley (including George Michael!).
From the people’s music blogs, all offering a variety of Bo Diddley tunes: Ted at Boogie Woogie Flu, Vincent at Fufu Stew, Ben at Moistworks, Aiken at Licorice Pizza, Mike at Art Decade, Whiteray at Echoes in the Wind, Sir Mojo at Popdose and our man at The Vinyl District.
JB also offers a tribute over at the WNEW blog.