Said Bo Diddley.
Ellas Otha Bates created one of rock and roll’s bedrock rhythms.
In its simplest form, the Bo Diddley beat can be counted out as a two-bar phrase:
“One and two and three and four and one and two and three and four and…”
No chord changes – Jerry Lee Lewis once said “I still like Bo Diddley. If he ever gets out of the chord of E, he might get dangerous” – just the rhythm.
Now that you know, you’ll hear it everywhere.
Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade away”, covered (and made hugely famous) by the Stones and then again by Bruce Hornsby who takes it waaaaay into Little Feat/Allen Toussaint territory. Just for a start
“Two Trains” would never have happened without Bo Diddley.
Neither would bands have had female bass players or maraca players for decades. Or square guitars.
Neither would “Two Machines”, the exquisite mashup of Lowell George and Girls Aloud ever have happened.
Not Fade Away [Listen] Buddy Holly and the Crickets from Buddy Holly Masters
Trivia alarm: The last song that Buddy Holly ever played. – The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa on 2 February 1959. The next day was – as everyone knows – “The Day The Music Died”
Not Fade Away [Listen] The Rolling Stones from Forty Licks
Not Fade Away [Listen] The Rolling Stones from Stripped
Not Fade Away (live) [Listen] Bruce Hornsby from Live Bootleg
Two Trains [Listen] Little Feat from Hotcakes & Outtakes
Two Trains (Lowell Demo) [Listen] Little Feat from Hotcakes & Outtakes
Two Trains [Listen] Lowell George from Thanks I’ll eat it here
Two Machines [Listen] Girls Aloud vs. Lowell George
Pay Bo Diddley [Listen] – David Lindley & Wally Ingram from Twango Bango Deluxe
Trivia alarm: Bo Diddley’s record label ripped him off heroically through his entire career. Dave and Wally didn’t think that was quite right..
Who Do You Love? [Listen] – Ronnie Hawkins from The Last Waltz
The Day I Saw Bo Diddley in Washington Square [
Listen] – Willie Nile from Streets of New York (Dead link – victim of the Great Hard Drive Crash of 2008)
Plynth (Water Down The Drain) [Live] [Listen] – Ron Wood & Bo Diddley from Live At The Ritz
Who Do You Love [Listen] – Dion from Bronx In Blue
Bo Diddley [Listen] – Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band from Live Bullet
Trivia alarm: This got Bo Diddley banned from the “Ed Sullivan Show” for ever. First black man to ever appear on the show, he was told to sing Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Sixteen Tons”. Bo had other ideas….
Who Do You Love? [Listen] – Bo Diddley from His Best: The Chess 50th Anniversary Collection
I’m A Man [Listen] – Bo Diddley from His Best: The Chess 50th Anniversary Collection
Trivia alarm: As it segues into……
Mannish Boy [Listen] – Muddy Waters from The Last Waltz
Hey Bo Diddley [Live] [Listen] – Ron Wood & Bo Diddley from Live At The Ritz
Not a bad legacy when you come to think about it….