Passings: Bo Diddley

There are very few of rock and roll’s innovators left. Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis are the only ones I can think of, now that Bo Diddley has gone. His records have always made me happy — the standard riff, the shuffling beat and tumbling bass. The songs were rarely about anything, and that worked out fine, since Bo Diddley found a groove and stayed in it. Music fans never got tired of it.

The saddest thing was that most of the tributes I’ve read in the past day or so mentioned that, despite the enormous impact he had on music — his riff can be clearly heard in songs by Buddy Holly, the Stones, the Clash and U2 — he felt he hadn’t been rewarded sufficiently. I have no doubt that he, like so many others, were lied to and underpaid, cheated and forgotten. But I hope that before he died, he forgot the promises that were broken and the long tours he worked, and imagined a million bands beginning in garages around the world, all working on that riff that wouldn’t quit. RIP Mr. Bates.

Bo Diddley on Hollywood A Go Go