Monday, June 2, 2008

Remembering Bo Diddley

Bo Diddley @ the Alameda County Fair

July 2004

Today is a sad day in American musical history.

The legendary Bo Diddley passed away. Bo Diddley has been around since I can remember. The first time I ever saw him was probably around 1972. He appeared on the ABC TV show In Concert. It was a really memorable show for me. I remember talking to my Dad about him and he told me he was one of the pioneers of Rock and Roll Music in the 1950's and that he was one of the only people that played a square guitar.His performance left an impression on an eleven year old kid.

It was a number of years before I heard of him again. In the early 1980's, I was in college. It was when I came into contact with Chicago Blues. When I started learning more about the history of the music, you couldn't help but learn about the contribution of Bo Diddley. I became re-acquainted with him through his recordings for Chess Records.

The first time that I ever saw him was at the 1986 Chicago Blues Festival in Grant Park. He was scheduled to appear and be reunited with Billy Boy Arnold. It was an incredible day of music.

Along with Bo Diddley was:
  • Willie Dixon‚Äôs Big Three
  • Otis Rush
  • Memphis Slim w/ Matt ‚ÄúGuitar Murphy
  • Bo Diddley and
  • Chuck Berry

Back in those days, it was a great lineup. Looking back on it, it was an amazing assembly of talent that simply boggles the mind. I'll never forget Bo Diddley's perfomance that day. It was fabulous.

After that day, I saw him almost every chance I got.

Come to think of it, all of his shows were fabulous. Bo Diddley never failed to deliver every time that I saw him. I can't remember him ever having a bad performance.

In 2000, I caught him at the Fountain Blues Festival in San Jose, CA. I shot about 200 photos of him that day. I remember him pointing at one of the other photographers and told him to stop taking photos. At the end of the song, he pointed at the guy and said, "That guy needs to stop taking my photo. I don't want those pictures showing up on the Internet."

For a number of years, he performed at a variety of County Fairs in Northern California. I went to every one of those shows.

Bo Diddley @ the San Mateo County Fair

August 2005

He appeared at the San Mateo County Fair. It was an indoor performance. The lighting was fabulous. The three million dollar sound system was awe-inspiring. I captured one of my favorite photos ever. It may not be the best photo that I've ever taken, but it is one of my favorites. I can still hear that fantastic version of Roadrunner that capped off an incredible show.

It seems cliche to say he was a Rock and Roll icon and that his contribution to the history of American music is immeasurable. He's going to be missed.

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