Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, riffs, one riff wonders & primal voices
November 24, 2022 8:10 PM   Subscribe

And here is Bo Diddley & Chuck Berry -- Bo's Beat from Chuck Berry & Bo Diddley -- Two Great Guitars

Only Solitaire blog gives it a bit of side eye
More of an historical curiosity here than an actual good album — but a terrific historical curiosity all the same. ...the album is never remembered as a particular highlight for any of those guys; however, in some ways it is a rather unique artifact of the era. Even if you find it horrible, you won't ever forget how you found it horrible, that is for sure.
All the same here are the two men in concert all of 45 years later:

Chuck Berry & Bo Diddley Together LIVE (2009)

And down the tesseracted rabbit hole we go...

Back in previous various other days we have...

First, two from Bo Diddley's first and last
on the Ed Sullivan show:

Bo Diddley - Bo Diddley (1955)

Bo Diddley -- Bo Diddley (1955) Super Duper HiQ Hybrid JARichardsFilm 720p

Bo Diddley (1965) / SURFSTYLEY4

Speaking Freely: Bo Diddley

In-his-own words origin stories thereabove of the Bo Diddley beat, his guitar style, his name and so on. extremely entertaining but, all the same, BYO grain of salt as to their veracity, let alone verisimilitude.

Then there is the Hambone, Handjive and Pattin' Juba Instructional Video:
Danny 'Slapjazz' Barber and Sekani Thomas: An Apprenticeship in Hambone (aka Pattin' Juba)

See also WikiHow: How to Do the Hand Jive

Ha, and from the petrified forest of dead links comes Previously aka The Minstrel Show 2.1 -- Pattin' Juba...

See also The Hambone, Handjive and Pattin' Juba

See also

Red Saunders with Dolores Hawkins & the Hambone Kids -- Hambone

Johnny Otis -- Willie & The Handjive (1958)

Johnny Otis & the Three Tons of Joy -- Handjive (1959)

As for himself, here is Bo Diddley on Hollywood A Go Go (1965) singing Let the Kids Dance -- and what exactly does he interject at 2:29 minutes again? -- and Hey Bo Diddley

This⁰ is Ronnie Wood & Bo Diddley - Tokyo, Japan, Nakano Sun Plaza Hall, 7th March 1988

And up for some infodumpster diving? See Bo Diddley The Originator Which is a Tripod page of Bo Diddleyana which is as insanely TMI as it is insanely so microscopic fonted as to be unreadable on a phone let alone any screen format below wide screen Cinemascope theatrical projection. Ah, Tripod ...from back in the Carboniferous, hunkering down among the cycads and foot long dragonflies with Myspace, geocities and Livejournal.
And here are

Chuck Berry Allstars from Chuck Berry & Bo Diddley's Rock 'n' Roll All Star Jam (Video 1985)

From more back in the day comes:

Chuck Berry performs "You Can't Catch Me" in 1956's "Rock, Rock, Rock!"

Chuck Berry -- Sweet Little Sixteen Saturday Night Beech Nut Show 02/22/58

Chuck Berry -- Back in the USA Saturday Night Beech Nut Show (07/18/58)

And on the Berry picking guitar instructional tip:

Chuck Berry Lead Guitar Lesson

As reported by NPR: The Story Of Chuck Berry's 'Maybellene', Chuck Berry was directed by Muddy Waters to Chess Records, where he played the song Ida Mae, his version of Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys -- Ida Red. Leonard Chess liked the tune but... found the lyrics too rural. A substitute was sought and found:
"And that was a problem, so nobody could think of a name," pianist Johnnie Johnson says. "We looked up on the windowsill, and there was a mascara box up there with Maybellene written on it. And Leonard Chess said, 'Why don't we name the damn thing "Maybellene"?'
Ten years later comes Chuck Berry -- Maybellene (live 1965) from Chuck Berry -- 02/06/65 Belgian TV Appearance (Complete)

And here are

Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven by an up and coming British cover band in 1963.

Chuck Berry's Oh Carol by yet another up and coming British cover band 1964.

Chuck Berry's Round and Round -- also by that same other up and coming British cover band of 1964.

Chuck Berry: the first great poet laureate of rock 'n roll (2006) -- BBC Newsnight Archive
"...Poetry was regularly read and recited at home. Especially the words of Paul Laurence Dunbar, “the most loved poet in our family,” said Berry. So central was his writing to the Berrys that when Martha and Henry had another son in 1933, they named him Paul Lawrence Dunbar Berry.

The respect for Dunbar hardly set the Berry family apart. Born in 1872, among the first generation of African American artists to have lived their whole life in freedom, Dunbar was a celebrated poet who also wrote novels, short stories, and lyrics and libretti for the musical theater. He was revered as the first professional Black author, admired by Black and white audiences, and his example—as a shaper of the American tongue—inspired on multiple levels.

To Berry’s parents he was a symbol of hard work and study. Those who read him were rewarded with a heightened sense of not just what words could do, but what voices could achieve. Dunbar had a genius for speaking his thoughts through the shape of other folks’ mouths. He was most famous for a group of poems spoken in what has been called Black vernacular, though it is sometimes also referred to as the dialect of minstrelsy. These poems in particular were read around the African American dinner table, recited in school assemblies and at church events from coast to coast.

As the Harlem Renaissance writer Arna Bontemps declared:

"The name of Paul Laurence Dunbar was in every sense a household word in the black communities around Los Angeles when I was growing up here. It was not, however, a bookish word. It was a spoken word. And in those days it was associate with recitations which never failed to delight when we heard or said them at parties or on programs for the entertainment of the church-folk and their guests. I was still in grade school when I first heard a program chairman asking a prospective participant if he knew a “Dunbar piece” he could recite. A knowledge of Dunbar’s poetry and the pleasure it gave when spoken with a note of mimicry and a touch of pathos was all it took to melt our hearts and make us one..."

The poems Bontemps heard around the table—“When de Co’n Pone’s Hot,” “The Party,” “When Malindy Sings,” “In the Morning”—were ones that shaped multiple generations of artists. Novelist Chester Himes, who attended high school in St. Louis in 1923, said, “Every black schoolchild knew the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar, which was recited in school.” Trumpeter Miles Davis, who grew up in East St. Louis, celebrated Dunbar’s as a singular blues voice, comparing him to singer Bessie Smith: “She affects me like Leadbelly did, the way some of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poetry did. I read him once and almost cried. The Negro Southern speech.”
My Poetic Side: Paul Laurence Dunbar

On Chuck Berry’s Early Literary Influences: RJ Smith Recounts the Father of Rock and Roll's Childhood Occupation with Greatness*
*Paywalled on Android? Try Incognito Mode(

The Lyrical Genius of Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry and Teenage Culture in the 1950s

A black man who wrote songs of white teenage angst and means of transportation, Chuck Berry was no minimalist in his lyrical intent nor his ambitions but also as a man was a piece of work.

The Guardian: Singer, musician, sex offender: let’s remember the whole Chuck Berry

Related from 1976: A prescient and astute assessment of Chuck Berry by Robert Christgau written for The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll.

See also
PBS: The Mann Act | Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson

tldr: By far the bulk of celebrities accused, arrested, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned for violations of The Mann Act were black men. No excuses for Chuck.Berry but just saying.
Lyrics of teenage angst and twisted souls aside here are more better blues both minimal and primal...

John Lee Hooker -- Boogie Chillen original (1948)

As for

John Lee Hooker -- Boogie Chillun from Whiskey & Wimmen: John Lee Hooker's Finest (CD)

Juiced up original or note perfect re-recording? -- you be the judge. I lean towards to the first choice myself.

John Lee Hooker -- Money That's What I Want

See also Garfield Akers and Joe Calicott -- Cottonfield Blues for the origins of John Lee Hooker's Boogie Chillen riff:

Garfield Akers & Joe Callicott -- Cottonfields Part 1 September 29, 1923

Garfield Akers & Joe Callicott -- Cottonfields Part 2 September 29, 1923

See also

Joe Callicott -- France Chance

Ry Cooder -- France Chance

Now *tune your guitar to Open A (E A E A C# E) or Open G (D G D G B D)*

"Boogie Chillen" by John Lee Hooker: 365 Riffs for Beginning Guitar!! from "The Blues According to John Lee Hooker": 365 Riffs for Beginning Guitar!!

John Lee Hooker Boogie Chillun Acoustic Blues lesson w/tab "Masters of the Delta Blues Guitar"

[And heck, maybe visit Delta Blues Guitar Lessons direct so as to pay some forward or leave a tip via PayPal. Just Sayin'...]
Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters Copenhagen Jazz festival (October 27th, 1968)

Muddy Waters -- Honey Bee (1970) Beat-CluB

comes from

Muddy Waters -- Blow Wind Blow & Honey Bee (1970)

The legendary West German rock series Beat-Club was broadcast from September 1965 through December 1972

Muddy Waters -- Long Distance Call -- Copenhagen Jazz festival (October 27th, 1968)

Muddy Waters -- Newport Jazz Festival 1960 with Muddy singing Hoochie Coochie Man, Tiger in Your Tank, Rolling Stone and Got My Mojo Working

Muddy Waters -- She's Nineteen Years Old live at Oregon State University, Corvallis Oregon 1971.

Muddy Waters -- Hoochie Coochie Man (1971) live at Oregon State University, Corvallis Oregon 1971.

Muddy Waters in Concert 1971 the entire concert live at Oregon State University, Corvallis Oregon 1971.

Muddy Waters & Otis Spann -- Country Boy (Live France 1964)

A Chance to meet Muddy Waters -- 1981 (Interview)
Howlin' Wolf Sam Philips first heard in the Sun Records studio and said of him:

This is where the soul of man never dies...

The Howlin' Wolf Story: The Secret History of Rock 'n Roll (2003)

Howlin' Wolf -- Evil is Going On

Howlin' Wolf -- Shake For Me, I'll.Be Back Someday, Love Me Darlin' (live) from the dvd The American Folk Blues Festival (1962-1966)

Howlin' Wolf -- Down in the Bottom a side project filmed during the 1966 Newport Folk Festival

Howlin' Wolf -- Don't Laugh at Me more from.the 1966 Newport Folk Festival

Howlin' Wolf -- How Many More Years (1951)
-- That's a teenaged Ike Turner on the piano on this recording.

Howlin' Wolf -- How Many More Years on Shindig May 20th, 1965 introduced by famous superfans. I saw this live on TV back then btw...

Howlin' Wolf -- How Many More Years from Newport Folk Festival 1966

The Wolf was being heckled by a very drunk Son House at that session and eventually -- disappointedly and regretfully so, in my opinion, as he idolized the man in his youth -- Wolf tore House a new one as he started.

Later on we have

Howlin' Wolf Live 19711971 Performance from Big Duke's Flamingo Lounge Chicago Illinois

Howlin' Wolf -- Evil (live) from Big Duke's Flamingo Room.

side note re Ralph Bass: Christ, what an....

Howlin' Wolf -- Don't Laugh at Me *What in the hell kind of guitar is Hubert Sumlin picking? Oh, read the comnents, Karl, it's a Gallianti...* (!?)

Howlin' Wolf -- Down in The Bottom recorded as a side project at the 1966 Newport Folk Festival

Howlin' Wolf -- Smokestack Lightning Live 1964 The only live performance by Wolf of this his first hit, was recorded in England during the 1964 American Folk Blues Festival tour.

Howlin' Wolf -- Dust My Broom More from 1966 Newport Folk Festival

Howlin' Wolf -- May I Have a Talk with You Also from Newport 1966 recut by diverse hands.

Howlin' Wolf -- 44 Blues from Howlin' Wolf -- Moaning at Midnight

The original
44 Blues
was first recorded in 1929 by Roosevelt Sykes. Its cognates on guitar are Hambone Willie Newbern's Rollin' and Tumblin and Robert Johnson's 32-20 Blues but every piano player had a version of the 44's. The wildest has to got to be the original Paramount 1931 recording of Skip James -- 22-20 Blues

On the Howlin' Wolf instructional side there are

Howlin' Wolf -- 44 Blues Guitar Licks and Riffs Lesson

Smokestack Lightning Blues Guitar Lesson -- Howlin' Wolf, Hubert Sumlin

How to Play Evil (Is Going On) on Guitar | Howlin' Wolf Guitar Lesson + Tutorial

And on deep and related documentary links...

The History of Chicago Blues (1972): This film, produced and directed by Harley Cokliss in 1972 for Irit Film Productions, looks at the Chicago Blues scene in the late '60s and early '70s, when tensions were still running high because of events like the Vietnam War and the chaotic and violent Democratic Party National Convention Chicago hosted. The document features artists such as Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters and Junior Wells

You See Me Laughing -- The Last of the Hill Country Bluesmen (Full Documentary)

The Land Where the Blues Began -- Documentary (1979)

Blues Story -- A Documentary

Good Morning Blues (1978) - Narrated by B.B.King

...Such is the somewhat over ample Thanksgiving dessert you are served tonight.

Upon review, assorted links have been posted previously by peedro, twice by flaxjax at midnight and timsteil
posted by y2karl (9 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you. This will get me through to Christmas.
posted by salishsea at 12:13 AM on November 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

slow. clap.
posted by j_curiouser at 12:22 AM on November 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

When I was a kid, I saw that Chuck Berry and Bo Diddly "Two Great Guitars" album in the record store racks, and imagined that it was probably the most explosive, most incredible, most dynamite album ever made, and that if I ever listened to it, time would stop, and the meaning of existence would be revealed. Imagine my surprise, when I finally saved up enough to buy it, and discovered that it kinda stank, and the only thing it revealed was that Chuck Berry and Bo Diddly, for all their coolness, were not very good guitarists. Both of them mined a narrow vein with Bo Diddly's being the narrowest.

Chuck Berry's greatest hits launched a thousand bands and are as great as anything ever recorded. But outside of those 12 or so songs, his creativity failed him. His bad songs are really bad, and on guitar, he was incapable of playing an extended solo. During the 1960s, when creativity flourished in the top 40, Chuck did nothing of interest.

Bo Diddley, on the other hand, liked nothing more than an extended solo, especially if it consisted 40 minutes of his "hambone" chunking on guitar.

By the 1960s, any random garage band guitarist was better than Chuck and Bo. But compared to Bo Didddley, Chuck Berry was Segovia. I've seen Bo Diddley live twice, and they were both among the few concerts where I wanted to demand my money back. After his "hambone" hits, Bo Diddley did nothing original, and gave every evidence of being one of the least creative human beings ever to take up the guitar. Playing live, he exploited his audience, just dragging out the hambone, gurgling lyrics, gradually losing energy and then going home.

Bo Diddley didn't invent the hambone beat, of course, And his imitators were far greater than he: I'm including the Strangeloves studio group's "I Want Candy" and the Yardbirds' "I'm a Man".

Now Howlin' Wolf, however, is a different case. We need to judge him by completely different standards than we do the Top 40 oriented Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. Howlin' Wolf also mined a narrow gulch, but it was deep ... deep. We never asked anything of the Wolf but that he be himself. He didn't have to impress us with fancy guitar playing, cleverness, or sustained creativity. Just being Howling Wolf was his statement, and it still echoes.

Gotta love Y2karl and thank him for 22 years of great posts.
posted by Modest House at 7:14 AM on November 25, 2022 [3 favorites]

Electric Mud - Released in 1968, it imagines Muddy Waters as a psychedelic musician. Producer Marshall Chess suggested that Muddy Waters record it in an attempt to appeal to a rock audience. The album peaked at number 127 on Billboard 200 album chart. It was controversial for its fusion of electric blues with psychedelic elements.
posted by stevil at 9:11 AM on November 25, 2022 [1 favorite]

I saw Howlin' Wolf on the afternoon of August 31st, 1975 at Sick's Stadium, a huge Class AAA minor league wooden structure where the Seattle Pilots, Seattle's first major league baseball team played for one whole year before their owners up and moved them to Milwaukee to become the Brewers. Sick's was torn down a few years later to be replaced by Lowe's Home Improvement.

Wolf was the headliner of a bill that included John Lee Hooker and Albert Collins and was by that time a sick man who listlessly sat in a chair for his set. I remember he dangled his microphone between his legs and hung his head with his tongue drooping out for comic relief. But it wasn't funny.

Howlin' Wolf died six months later from a combination of kidney disease, congestive heart failure and brain cancer while on the table and under the knife for an operation for the last. He never awoke from.the anesthesia.

Who amazed me at the time was John Lee Hooker. I'd seen him more than once before that and usually he just punched the clock sitting down in a chair and cranking out his Delta drone boogie until he just quit, got up, walked off and didn't encore even once.

Not that afternoon however: Hooker, wearing a bright bright red silk shirt with a pattern of mallard ducks in flight that looked like it should be lining an expensive sport jacket, was on his feet and on fire.

He had the same grim mirthless snake eyed stare I'd seen before but he was on his feet, hammering on and snapping strings and... dancing! He was all over the stage and even duckwalked ala Chuck Berry at one point.

All to show up the very obviously ailing headliner. The crowd just went nuts -- which made Wolf's following set an even sadder sight to see for me.

So I got to see two legends that afternoon: one so visibly at death's door and the other giving the best set of decades to show the sick man up. Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made indeed.
posted by y2karl at 10:29 AM on November 25, 2022 [3 favorites]

Howling Wolf's mentor, by the way, was Charley Patton. When you think about it, the blues as a musical genre is barely a century
old. A century seemed like forever when I was in my 20s. Now not quite so much -- now and then.
posted by y2karl at 11:45 AM on November 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

I too bought the album as a young person and it is truly crap, just some turgid unfriendly jamming in the studio. Impressed with the work involved turning this into a kaleidoscopic font of linkage though, lots of good stuff here to explore.
posted by aquanaut at 5:48 PM on November 25, 2022 [1 favorite]

Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters & Bo Diddley The Super Super Blues Band is a totally fun slap-dash party record with plenty of goofing around repartee. We often played it at our old parties. It's swell.

(I really should try to comment sooner, because it seems like every time that I comment here it comes after a long comment about how crappy the thing is.)
posted by ovvl at 6:20 PM on November 25, 2022 [1 favorite]

Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters & Bo Diddley The Super Super Blues Band yt is a totally fun slap-dash party record with plenty of goofing around repartee. We often played it at our old parties. It's swell

I haven't heard it in years but I quite agree. I was quite the ultrapurist in regards to funky Chess Brothers marketing schemes like Electric Mud and Howlin' Wolf Hates this Record... but on ...Super Super Blues Band they sound like they are genuinely enjoying themselves. It is timelessly contagious.
posted by y2karl at 6:46 PM on November 25, 2022 [1 favorite]

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