Lady Bo and The Duchess
March 4, 2008 6:16 AM   Subscribe

If you've seen clips of Bo Diddley performances from the early 60s, you'll surely have noticed the presence of one or more female guitarists on stage, churning out that chunky six-string rhythm alongside the esteemed Mr. Diddley. Might've been Lady Bo that you've seen or heard, or it might've been The Duchess. Either way, hats off to some fine guitarists: women who filled a job category generally reserved (especially at that time) for the menfolk.

In fact, all the linked videos in this FPP feature The Dutchess. Not sure if any film exists of Lady Bo performing with Bo Diddley. There was one fantastic YouTube clip that I'd planned to link to, featuring 2 female guitarists (in evening gowns!) playing with Bo, but unfortunately, it seems to have been pulled from YouTube. Too bad, cause it was way cool.

This short obit for The Duchess includes a couple of interesting anecdotes.

Norma-Jean Wofford (The Duchess) died in 2005, but Peggy Jones (Lady Bo) is, as far as I know, still among us. Here's Lady Bo's official site, though it doesn't appear to have been updated since 2002. There's another bio I found on her here. She's done a lot of music work over the years, with a lot of different people, since her days with Bo Diddley. She apparently did a stint with the James Brown band, for example.
posted by flapjax at midnite (13 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Nice work, flaps!

I guess you saw this later clip. Lady Bo axe (which unfortunately she doesn't play in the clip) is a very modern Roland G-707 guitar synth. Nice contrast with Bo's rectangular axe.

Also, my favourite Bo Knows. . . ad.

I'm looking forward to the rest of the 'women instrumentalist in pop' series.
posted by Herodios at 6:42 AM on March 4, 2008

I guess you saw this later clip .

Hell, no! If I'd seen it, I would've put it in the FPP, for sure! Thanks so much for posting that, Herodios!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:46 AM on March 4, 2008

Rosetta Tharpe
posted by fire&wings at 6:56 AM on March 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thanks a lot, fire&wings... There goes my Sister Rosetta Tharpe FPP. ;-)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:59 AM on March 4, 2008

BOdacious post!
posted by sfts2 at 7:32 AM on March 4, 2008

I can't wait to watch/read. This is good, on so many levels.
posted by not_on_display at 7:55 AM on March 4, 2008

Yes, but did they pay Bo Diddley?
posted by klangklangston at 10:55 AM on March 4, 2008

This is awesome. I had no idea there were such visible girl rockers such a long time ago, I thought it basically began with Joan Jett/The Runaways and Debbie Harry and Tina Weymouth. The Duchess looks almost ill-at-ease at times, and totally confident at others. Bo says he had to "protect" her on the road, which is probably old-timey politeness for "she went through some rough shit", which I can imagine, especially in the some of sort of places Bo would have played. Why hasn't there been more written about Lady Bo and The Duchess? I mean, they were obviously trailblazers, but I've read a lot about rock n' roll and its history and I hadn't heard of them before today. Maybe it's because Bo himself was criminally underrated and unappreciated for so long.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:10 AM on March 4, 2008

I just wanted to say that I love Bo Diddley. Also that both Lady Bo and The Duchess are always pretty damn amazing to watch as well. A little off topic, but where's Jerome? I thought he was with Bo until the mid-60s. No matter, thanks for the post.
posted by sleepy pete at 12:34 PM on March 4, 2008

Bo Diddley story: I went to see Bo Diddley perform at a bar in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood many years ago. I showed up quite early, so, to kill time, I played a video game called Rampage, in which you play a giant monster eating a cityscape. I was playing as King Kong, when I was joined by another player, playing as the giant werewolf. I glanced to my left and noticed it was Bo Diddley. We played in silence for a while, and then Bo Diddley said to me "Do you get more points if you eat the women?"

"Yes you do, Mr. Diddley," I answered.

We continued to play in silence.

I actually left his show early, because it was getting late, but I didn't mind. There are a lot of people who have seen Bo Diddley perform music. How many ca say they have destroyed an entire city with him?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:42 PM on March 4, 2008 [3 favorites]

Indeed, sleepy pete, big props to Jerome, the man on the maracas!!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:43 PM on March 4, 2008

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