Who Do You Love?

Bo Diddley, legendary guitar player and predecessor of just about everything exciting in rock music, has died at age 79. His famous syncopated rhythm pattern (that many of us learned in grade school as the colloquial, "shave and a hair cut, two bits") became one of the most recognizable and eagerly copied rhythms in music.

Diddley was one of my favorite guitar players and showmen, his body seemed plugged into his own sounds: feet shuffling, legs twitching, arms flailing—he showcased all the ways that electricity was crucial to the evolution of rock 'n' roll, that it was its own force, to be harnessed but not necessarily tamed.

One of the best album covers of all time was for Bo Diddley is a Gunslinger. It is the prototype for countless artists whose depiction of themselves on their album cover is both a dare and a challenge.

Bo%20Diddley.jpg

Watch two videos of Diddley below:

And listen to songs that employed the Bo Diddley rhythm.
Such as The Strangeloves' "I Want Candy":

A song you might be more familiar with as performed by Bow Wow Wow:


Lastly, The Who's "Magic Bus":

Here's the piece All Things Considered ran ran on Bo Diddley, from reporter Neda Ulaby.

R.I.P Bo Diddley.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Wow, I was listening to "Road Runner" as I read this post, and reading that he's dead literally took my breath away and gave me a lump in my throat. He's one of my favorite musicians, and I've been especially obsessed recently, too. One of the most original and consistently fun performers ever. Wow. He will be sorely missed.

Sent by nikki | 3:34 PM | 6-2-2008

2nd that.

Sent by Marissa Dailey | 4:55 PM | 6-2-2008

In the beginning of my guitar instruction book Bo Diddley is listed as a guitar innovator because of his "distinctive syncopated jungle rhythms". His approach to guitar playing just goes to show how much can be done though the guitar and how original he was.

P.S. Other then the music; I found the The Strangelove clip kinda creepy.

Sent by xavier | 6:48 PM | 6-2-2008

Thanks so much for posting this! I always just assumed Bo Didley was in the Chuck Berry, Les Paul vein of players. Those clips were so intensely explosive. But... 5/4? It counts out to 4/4 for me. Anyway, I thought that rhythm was unbearably cheesy until now, hearing the source.

Sent by Zeb | 7:53 PM | 6-2-2008

I never made the Bo Diddley beat/"Magic Bus" connection before. Thanks for the great post.

I always loved Bo's custom Gretsch guitars--the man had an eye for design as well.

http://www.guitarplayer.com/article/gretsch-billy-bo/Aug-05/12248

Sent by Vortex | 9:24 PM | 6-2-2008

Carrie, great job

Sent by Lucky | 10:50 PM | 6-2-2008

That gun slinger shot is not so weird when you discover Bo's love of Gene Autry and that it was Gene Autry's song "(I've Got Spurs that) JIngle Jangle Jingle" that led to his discovery of that Shave and a Haircut beat.
you can't make this stuff up :)

Bob Boilen

Sent by Bob Boilen | 7:10 AM | 6-3-2008

Thanks for the salute to Bo diddley

Sent by Tom Hendricks | 1:00 PM | 6-3-2008

I agree on the time issue - definitely in 4/4. I don't mean to nitpick, but the shave & a haircut (as I learned it anyway) is a different rhythm, right?

Sent by Darren | 1:48 PM | 6-3-2008

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9586G04mfw

a Clip Ive always loved...
they just dont play it like they used to do they...

Sent by Kramer | 3:33 PM | 6-3-2008

No youtibia clip of The Jesus and Mary Chain's Who Do You Love? cover, but it's a great statement of their, and our, debt. Here, however, is their apt theme for the NW http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0QUoWy_lLQ&feature=related

Sent by fns | 5:20 PM | 6-3-2008

Here's a Northwest band using the Diddley-rhythm in an interesting way:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NB2CfqflFRQ

Sent by bert sperling | 7:10 PM | 6-3-2008

"That gun slinger shot is not so weird when you discover Bo's love of Gene Autry and that it was Gene Autry's song "(I've Got Spurs that) JIngle Jangle Jingle" that led to his discovery of that Shave and a Haircut beat. you can't make this stuff up :) "

that is my favorite gene autry song!! though i just put it on right now, and i must say that i'm having trouble making the connection between this (a 4/4 round, right?) and the bo diddley beat. but, it's a puzzle i will enjoy figuring out :)

Sent by nikki | 9:26 AM | 6-4-2008

About