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Yesterday was a truly sad day for rock and roll as one of it's original founding members passed away. Bo Diddley died yesterday of heart failure after months of ill health at the age of 79, and so I thought I would take today to mourn his passing, offer condolences to his family and friends, and more than anything celebrate his music, and lasting contributions to rock and roll.
Although he is often lumped in with some of the other early rock and roll and blues players of his time, Bo Diddley truly had a sound all his own that inspired countless artists from the classic rock era till this day. Even if you'd like to claim that you've never heard a Bo Diddley song, chances are if you listen to any classic rock at all, you have... his influence is that far reaching. The Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, the Doors, the Clash, David Bowie, Buddy Hollie, ZZ Top and many more all covered, or borrowed from him and his unique style.
And what a great style it is, which driving rhythms and an almost primal sound that is completely unlike the electrified country and blues of people like Chuck Berry. It's earthy, gritty and yet also fun and free wheelin'. Songs like "Who Do You Love" and "I'm a Man" are timeless rootsy rock and roll classics that have spawned dozens, if not hundreds of off shoot songs where you can hear Bo's influence peaking through. In a relatively short career (at least when he was at his height), he completely changed the path of rock and roll, paving the way for garage rock, punk, glam and so much more.
Along with his numerous contributions to rock, Diddley was also more than a little bit ahead of his time with his guitars. Using guitars that were oblong shaped, and sometimes even fur covered, with plenty of overdrive to create his riffs was certainly a sight to see 1955. It started a revolution though, that would lead to the screaming feedback of Jimi Hendrix, the wild guitars of ZZ Top, and all the crazy guitar shapes that have come and gone over their years. Bo Diddley was an innovator that left a permanent, free spirited mark on rock and roll and open the doors for all the craziness that would follow, making rock and roll a musical genre where literally anything could happen.
Of the early rock and roll pioneers, Bo Diddley is one of my favorites. His music just works so well, creating the perfect feel, while remaining simple, straight forward and authentic. He will truly be missed, but his music, influence and creativity will live on forever.
If you've never listened to Bo Diddley before, I highly recommend you check out some of his work, especially in the next few days as a tribute to this fallen rock and roll icon.
The Soul of Rock 'n' Roll offers condolences to the friends and family of Bo Diddley, as well as to all the fans of Bo's music across the world. Bo... you were an amazing musician and a rock and roll legend and will always remain as such in our hearts.