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Ellas Otha Bates R.I.P.
June 2, 2008 9:43 AM   Subscribe

Ellas Otha Bates R.I.P. We all knew him better as that cat with the rectangular-shaped Gretsch who played it with the hambone beat. Goodbye, Bo Diddley. And thank you.
posted by runningdogofcapitalism (100 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by R. Mutt at 9:45 AM on June 2, 2008 [8 favorites]


Thank you, Bo Diddley. You will be missed. And your mark is indelible.
posted by blucevalo at 9:46 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by space2k at 9:49 AM on June 2, 2008


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posted by Brainy at 9:51 AM on June 2, 2008


Damn. I saw Bo perform in Central Park back in 1989, and went up and talked to him for a few minutes before the show. he was friendly and gracious. Then he put on a show that brought the house down. Two years later, I went to a John Lee Hooker tribute show at Madison Square Garden. Through most of the show the audience (aside from a few hollers) had been all chin-strokey and quiet, for some reason. Bo gave the audience a long look and said "Everybody get the fuck UP!" and lit into a volcanic "I'm A Man." One of the great rock and roll moments of my life.

RIP, Great One.
posted by jonmc at 9:52 AM on June 2, 2008 [4 favorites]


Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley, Where Did You Go?!

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posted by mmahaffie at 9:52 AM on June 2, 2008


I saw Bo Diddley a few years ago, and despite his health and age he put on a great show.

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posted by Benjy at 9:52 AM on June 2, 2008


. Saw him play at an arts festival about twenty years ago, that was long past his prime but he still put a good show. Not too many of the early rockers left.
posted by octothorpe at 9:52 AM on June 2, 2008


Wherever he goes, he'll be riding a lion, using a rattlesnake whip.

In pace requiescat!
posted by SaintCynr at 9:56 AM on June 2, 2008


"I made 'Bo Diddley' in '55, they started playing it, and everybody freaked out. Caucasian kids threw Beethoven into the garbage can."

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posted by anastasiav at 9:56 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Doncha gimme no lip...
posted by jonmc at 9:56 AM on June 2, 2008


Aw man say it ain't so!

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posted by Sailormom at 9:57 AM on June 2, 2008


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posted by pyramid termite at 9:57 AM on June 2, 2008


RIP, dear sir. Thanks for everything, especially allowing us caucasian kids to throw Beethoven into the garbage can.
posted by sleepy pete at 10:03 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Aww. I missed a chance to see him last year. I figured if he came out this way once, he'd do it again. "Next time," I said.


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posted by The Man from Lardfork at 10:04 AM on June 2, 2008


What a great loss, so much of my favorite music can be attributed directly to him.

To me, he will always be the man.
posted by quin at 10:04 AM on June 2, 2008


The guy's guitar tone was years ahead of its time. He pioneered so much in terms of the sound of the electric guitar that when you hear his '50's stuff it sounds like its from the early '70's in terms of what he got his amps to sound like.

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posted by Ironmouth at 10:06 AM on June 2, 2008


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posted by cashman at 10:08 AM on June 2, 2008


(Bring it to Jerome.)
posted by Smart Dalek at 10:09 AM on June 2, 2008


I wish Mr. Diddley the bets of luck in any guitar duels with the devil he may have to enter at this most difficult of times.
posted by Artw at 10:09 AM on June 2, 2008


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posted by CitizenD at 10:11 AM on June 2, 2008


Reading this post made me wonder if they had spoken to Jerome Green (as in "Bring it to Jerome," he was Bo's maraca player and vocal foil) about the news. The best I get from googling is that he was "believed to have died in New York in 1973." The fact that one who contributed so much to Bo's sound (and thus to rock and roll) could pass away undetected is baffling and sad.
posted by jonmc at 10:11 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I saw Bo Diddley in Toronto with Chuck Berry and Little Richard at a Rock & Roll Legends show back in '89. I was there just to see Chuck, for the most part, but Bo Diddley was amazing...bashing that little cigar-box guitar with full crunch distortion and the amps cranked up to 11. He rocked the joint.

I also saw him at the same John Lee Hooker Tribute in New York that jonmc mentioned upthread.

Godspeed Bo.
posted by rocket88 at 10:12 AM on June 2, 2008


One of the first hing i learned on guitar was the Bo Diddley rhythm

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posted by SageLeVoid at 10:12 AM on June 2, 2008


I also saw him at the same John Lee Hooker Tribute in New York that jonmc mentioned upthread.

Are you a short dark-haired whiteguy with a Lawn Guyland accent? If so, you should let me get a hit off that joint, man.
posted by jonmc at 10:13 AM on June 2, 2008


Bring it on Home.

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posted by mwhybark at 10:14 AM on June 2, 2008


Goodnight Gunslinger
posted by tiger yang at 10:17 AM on June 2, 2008


Are you a short dark-haired whiteguy with a Lawn Guyland accent? If so, you should let me get a hit off that joint, man.

No, but that sounds a lot like the guy who sat right in front of me.
posted by rocket88 at 10:18 AM on June 2, 2008


HEY BO DIDDLEY!

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posted by gcbv at 10:20 AM on June 2, 2008


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posted by paulsc at 10:22 AM on June 2, 2008


Just 22 and I don't mind dyin'...

I loved his cameo in Trading Places.

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posted by optovox at 10:22 AM on June 2, 2008


He wore a cobra snake for a necktie.
posted by mwhybark at 10:26 AM on June 2, 2008


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posted by The Card Cheat at 10:29 AM on June 2, 2008


I will be posting this to my blog later, along with a cartoon made of my story and an essay about his song "Bo Meets the Monster," but my favorite Bo Diddley story is my own, and I want to share it here.

Years ago, in about 1990, I went to see Bo Diddley play at a small bar on the University of Minnesota's West Bank, or somewhere in the Cedar-Riverside area. I arrived very early, so I went to the back of the bar and played a video game called Rampage, in which you played a giant monster -- Godzilla, King Kong, and, for some reason, a giant werewolf.

After a few minutes, a largish man in a black cowboy hat took his place at the video game next to me. Sure enough, it was Bo Diddley. We played in silence for a few minutes, collectively destroying a small city, when Bo Diddley turned to me.

"Hey," he said. "Do you get more points if you eat the women?"

"Yes, Mr. Diddley," I said.

"Thanks," he said.

And we continued playing the game for about half an hour, smashing buildings and eating women. I actually left the show a little early, for some reason. But I haven't regretted it, since how many other people can say they destroyed an entire city with Bo Diddley.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:34 AM on June 2, 2008 [88 favorites]


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posted by aquanaut at 10:36 AM on June 2, 2008


But I haven't regretted it, since how many other people can say they destroyed an entire city with Bo Diddley.

funny, i woulda thunk that the women-eating would have been even more memorable. :)
posted by CitizenD at 10:38 AM on June 2, 2008


AZ, please please please crosslink your blog stuff here when you get it done. I trust the Astro Zombie brand with the Diddley legacy.
posted by mwhybark at 10:38 AM on June 2, 2008


I imagine a surprising number of people can make the women-eating claim. The guy wore a rattlesnake for a necktie, for pete's sake.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:46 AM on June 2, 2008


Back in the 80s, I saw him play in an autolot on Main St. in Gainesville. I only heard about the show because a friend worked at a t-shirt printing shop and Bo was going to put out some anti-drug shirts with a questionable illustration. Bo was in the foreground in his hat, a large sheriff style badge on it, and he was kicking the shit out of some poor kids who were foolish enough to do drugs around him: the Bo Diddly beat down. I think he saw them and understandably didn't like them, but a few were printed. I had one. It's lost somewhere due to sloppy, hasty moves up and down the east coast. The show was excellent.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 10:47 AM on June 2, 2008


Aw man, I just got home from being on tour with my band. We listened to Bo Diddley a couple times in the van. I was thinking about how much he still sounds ahead of his time...

I will never forget you, Bo Diddley.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:50 AM on June 2, 2008


I'm a Road Runner Honey....

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posted by marxchivist at 10:53 AM on June 2, 2008


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posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:58 AM on June 2, 2008


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posted by mattbucher at 10:58 AM on June 2, 2008


Impossible, because he will never die

No one ever rocked harder!
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:01 AM on June 2, 2008


when i got up this morning i felt like wearing all black. now i know why.
posted by lapolla at 11:04 AM on June 2, 2008


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posted by languagehat at 11:11 AM on June 2, 2008


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posted by ob at 11:12 AM on June 2, 2008


Another true classic character. Did some great music and kept on giving.
posted by doctorschlock at 11:16 AM on June 2, 2008


Saw Bo late last year and enjoyed it. Hadn't seen someone so old up on stage since Burning Spear's last tour. You could tell he was ailing; he sat down for whole show and needed help walking, and his guitar playing seemed strained. He still managed to put on a great show and he will be missed.
posted by daHIFI at 11:22 AM on June 2, 2008


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posted by jtron at 11:23 AM on June 2, 2008


My father says he remembers playing air guitar in his bedroom to "I'm A Man" over and over and over when he was fifteen.

A month or so ago, I had a whim and assembled a mix CD of as many different songs with Bo Diddley riffs as I could find. I was astonished at the variety -- I was finding songs by The Band, Paul Anka, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, the Supremes, Elvis, Ace Frehley...each and every one a Bo Diddley rhythm.

That's it, I'm burning a copy for Dad for Father's Day.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:24 AM on June 2, 2008


I have met a number of celebrities, and generally have been able to keep my cool.

But once (circa 1997) I was at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport the morning after a Bo Diddley show that I had chosen not to attend because of my early flight the next morning. In the waiting area for my plane, I look up and there's Bo Diddley right in front of me, with his square guitar case and everything. It was a combination of shame (I considered the flight too early for me to merely attend the show the night before, but there was THE MAN HIMSELF catching another flight that same morning) and sheer awe that prevented me from even opening my mouth to tell him how much his music meant to me. And now I'll never get to tell him.
posted by Dr. Wu at 11:27 AM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by mike3k at 11:29 AM on June 2, 2008


@r.mutt: Perfect Form!

@SageLeVoid: that is the Bo Diddley Beat, sir. Ga-run-teed to remove asses from seats!

Who do I love? Bo Diddley! Bo Diddley Never Die!

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posted by djrock3k at 11:31 AM on June 2, 2008


It's too bad, the one time I saw him was at the local summer fair, on a bill with the Shirelles, early 90s or so, and the crowd was just not into it. My only enduring memory from that show is Bo nagging the handful of people with camcorders.
posted by evilcolonel at 11:52 AM on June 2, 2008


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posted by Mocata at 12:23 PM on June 2, 2008


And holy fuck! That was Bo Diddley in Trading Places?!
posted by Mocata at 12:23 PM on June 2, 2008


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posted by mullacc at 12:32 PM on June 2, 2008


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I saw him a Central Park as well. I remember that he was one of the few big names that I've seen who was hanging out with his fans like a regular guy. Well.. a regular guy with a box guitar, black cowboy hat and some kind of reptilian neckwear, anyway
posted by bashos_frog at 12:39 PM on June 2, 2008


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posted by EarBucket at 12:40 PM on June 2, 2008


Here's my blog post.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:41 PM on June 2, 2008


Bo stood so out so much larger than his rock and roll contemporaries - I feel good whenever I hear one of his songs from any point in his career. Even his throw away songs were worth hearing.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 12:46 PM on June 2, 2008


Just now finishing up an hour tribute (3-4 pm eastern) to Bo Diddley on WBGO Jazz 88.3, tune in if you can.
posted by bluedaniel at 12:50 PM on June 2, 2008


One of the few of the very greatest rocknrollers.

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posted by argybarg at 12:54 PM on June 2, 2008


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posted by Mental Wimp at 1:02 PM on June 2, 2008


Damn.

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posted by Thorzdad at 1:45 PM on June 2, 2008


Bo Diddley is Jesus.

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posted by punchdrunkhistory at 1:58 PM on June 2, 2008


So we can expect an encore in three days?

Fantastic!
posted by quin at 2:02 PM on June 2, 2008


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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgzn7VyoqEw&feature=related
posted by Ber at 2:04 PM on June 2, 2008


Bo Diddley was a lover, a gunslinger, lumberjack. and a twister, and he carried a giant business card ("Have guitar, will travel"). Some called him "the originator," some called him "The Black Gladiator." Muddy Waters called him a "mannish boy," but he was 500% more man.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:32 PM on June 2, 2008


Crap. I just had a Shave and a Haircut* this past Friday. Which I'd waited 'til today.

R.I.P., you magnificent man.

*okay, it was a beard trim and a haircut, but still....
posted by Ufez Jones at 2:48 PM on June 2, 2008


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posted by Wolof at 3:04 PM on June 2, 2008


It's a damn shame.
posted by ersatz at 3:13 PM on June 2, 2008


Oh, but the music!
posted by ersatz at 3:13 PM on June 2, 2008


The NY Times profiled Bo Diddley five years ago, in an article titled "Pioneer of a Beat Is Still Riffing for His Due." It's a haunting article and has stayed with me ever since I read it.

Take one last bow, Mr. Bates, while we rise and clap for you, and thank you for all the great music you made and inspired others to make.
posted by mosk at 3:16 PM on June 2, 2008


Saw him a few years ago. Hell of an entertainer.

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posted by rokusan at 3:54 PM on June 2, 2008


Thank you.

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posted by schyler523 at 4:10 PM on June 2, 2008


Bo Knew.
posted by Frank Grimes at 4:55 PM on June 2, 2008


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posted by verisimilitude at 4:57 PM on June 2, 2008


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posted by kuujjuarapik at 5:48 PM on June 2, 2008


Who will tell the kids about Howard Hessman?

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posted by RavinDave at 6:43 PM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


In Philadelphia, it's worth fifty bucks.

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posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:02 PM on June 2, 2008


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posted by Songdog at 7:27 PM on June 2, 2008


There are people you just don't expect to ever die.
posted by yhbc at 7:37 PM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


If there's a heaven, the Duchess and Bo Diddley better be jammin' there tonight. 'Cause that would be a party!

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posted by jonp72 at 7:43 PM on June 2, 2008


There are people you just don't expect to ever die.

That is because in a just world, they wouldn't.
posted by R. Mutt at 7:44 PM on June 2, 2008


Wanna also say, can't underestimate him as a lyricist. You can say what you want about lowest-common-denomonator lyrics that integrate with the music seamlessly, but that's the way to write a song in my book.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:17 PM on June 2, 2008


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posted by owhydididoit at 10:36 PM on June 2, 2008


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posted by awfurby at 11:00 PM on June 2, 2008


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Saw him a quarter century ago this year at an outdoor show near Toronto. One hell of a show. Don't miss this performance.
posted by telstar at 12:43 AM on June 3, 2008


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posted by jiroczech at 3:38 AM on June 3, 2008


Oh, damn. Damn. This is... damn. He's a timeless legend. He's BO DIDDLEY. Damn.

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posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:18 AM on June 3, 2008


If there's a heaven, the Duchess and Bo Diddley better be jammin' there tonight.

More on The Duchess (and Lady Bo) here.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:23 AM on June 3, 2008


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posted by unrepentanthippie at 6:42 AM on June 3, 2008


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When The Clash can meld the Bo Diddley beat with Ska ("Rudie Can't Fail") you know Bo was on to something. Pure rock 'n roll.
posted by tommasz at 7:24 AM on June 3, 2008


Bo knows Diddley.

I love artists who both take their art seriously and have a sense of humour about it.

Bo will be missed.

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posted by Herodios at 8:50 AM on June 3, 2008


I was on a business trip going to/from Atlanta. While my co-worker and I were waiting for our flight to board, we heard an announcement, "Will Mr. Bo Diddley please report to the ticket desk." At which I (and several other passengers) kind of reacted with an "oh wow" of recognition, and tried to non-chalantly sneak a peak at the man. Then my co-worker said, in all seriousness, "Who is Bo Diddley?" I just kind of stared at him.


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posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:53 AM on June 3, 2008


and I've just started listening to his music today. Very sad.
posted by joelf at 11:20 AM on June 3, 2008


My favorite Bo Diddley quote has to be one I just heard in an interview on the radio this morning (paraphrasing): "Sometimes life is going your way and you're shining. And sometimes life just ain't happening."
posted by blucevalo at 11:42 AM on June 3, 2008


... ..
posted by hap_hazard at 3:41 PM on June 3, 2008


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