Diddley dead

Bo Diddley is dead. He was the author of the “shave and a haircut… two bits” beat.

“That beat came almost from children’s nursery rhymes and it came from outside barber shops in America,” Singer-songwriter Richard Hawley told the BBC. ” Outside the barber shops, they’d have a kid with a little wooden plank with tap shoes playing that kind of rhythm. ”

The rock world is bestowing tributes on him today, of course. Many are coming from the institutions that ripped him off, according to a 2005 interview he gave to Rolling Stone, referenced in the Boston Globe today.


“Elvis was not first; I was the first son of a gun out here, me and Chuck Berry. And I’m very sick of the lie,” Mr. Diddley said in a 2005 interview with Rolling Stone magazine. “You know, we are over that black-and-white crap, and that was all the reason Elvis got the appreciation that he did. I’m the dude that he copied, and I’m not even mentioned. . . . I’ve been out here for 50 years, man, and I haven’t ever seen a royalty check.”

Mitch Berg, author of the Shot in the Dark blog, pens a tribute (by the way, to see why Berg is, perhaps, the best blog writer in Minnesota when it comes to music, see his post on Bruce Springsteen.), invoking some long-forgotten images of when rock married politics, as in the 1989 George Bush inaugural.

bush_atwater.jpgDiddley, Sam and Dave, and Lee Atwater (the architect of Bush’s win) jammed on stage. It also gave us one of the goofiest pictures of a U.S. president… ever, when President George H.W. Bush jumped on stage, picked up a guitar and pretended to jam, both Atwater and Bush making “air guitar”-like faces at each other. (Unfortunately, the only copy of the picture I can find on the Internet is a small thumbnail. But trust me on this.)

Courtesy of KARE 11, a Coon Rapids man — Ar Stevens — tells the story of playing with Diddley in the ’80s. Watch the accompanying video only if you’re prepared to withstand the gratuitous — and overworked — “you don’t know Diddley” references.

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