Jump to content

bo diddley dies aged 79


Recommended Posts

Bo was a good person and before the obituaries appear tomorrow here are a few stories from long ago about the Bo I knew.


Back in October 1963 I travelled around for five weeks with a tour that was headed by the Everly Brothers. It also had Bo Diddley, a German group called the Rattles, Mickie Most, a new group called the Rolling Stones and a backing band called The Flintstones the same band that later backed Jerry Lee Lewis on the 1964 Granada TV Special.

Initially I planned to follow the tour for a week. It started reasonably at Londons New Victoria Theatre but the box office bookings for the five weeks ahead were terrible. To boost ticket sales Little Richard was added to the bill for the last four weeks. Business picked up and Richard, instead of Bo now closed the first half of the show. The tour was such fun that I stayed for another four weeks.

On that tour Bo brought a lady guitar player called The Duchess and she could really play too! The Duchess died in 2005.


He also brought the late Jerome Green who played maracas and was the other voice on Bos 1959 hit Say Man. The drummer on most of Bos early records was the late Clifton James and he visited Britain too. They are pictured behind Bo on the LP cover.

On that 1963 tour the MC was the late Bob Bain who played bagpipes and their sound fascinated Bo and he even tried to play them.

It was a very happy tour and Jerome discovered the joys of drinking in British pubs and he was often stuck in a bottleneck when he should have been in the theatre. Sometimes Bo would go to a nearby pub too but he only ever had soft drinks.

The tour manager was late Peter Grant, who went on to become Gene Vincents road manager (six months with Gene was like 60 years with anyone else said Peter) before going on to take care of the management of Led Zeppelin. Peter, who met his dancer wife at the Tivoli theatre Aberdeen, was a big 400lb ex-wrestler and, after the first show, he told the Rolling Stones that they hadnt learned the very basics of show business. Nobody argued with big Peter and when he called a 3pm rehearsal for the Rolling Stones at the theatre next day, it wasnt to let them check their music Peter actually taught them how to do proper Entrances and Exits. The previous night they had ambled on-stage in a very slovenly fashion and at the end of their three numbers had literally shoved each other off Peter liked things to be theatrical to have proper bows to the audience, proper entrances and exits and to use the tabs the theatres curtains.

Often Peter would command Keith Richard to go get Bo and Jerome out of the pub. Imagine anyone today telling Keith Richard what to do. But Keith liked Bo and he got on great with Jerome. Keith watched Bos show every night and so did Phil Everly. They also watched Little Richards performances.

On the tour Bo offered a lot of encouragement to all the youngsters on the show and he wrote a tune called Safari especially for the Flintstones it came out on an HMV record that must be very rare, as it did not sell many copies. The leader of the Flintstones was Terry Slater went on to head EMI records he used to sleep on a chair in my room to save money back in those far off days.

Bos group had unusual sleeping arrangements too. Bo always booked a single room and they all slept in it! If the room was cramped they would turnover wardrobes so they could sleep on top of them. One night at the Queens Hotel in Cheltenham, I asked Bo why he stayed in expensive 4 star hotels and he replied, Because their single rooms are much bigger!

I can remember lots of funny occasions with Bo. Like the time I took him to Lewiss department store, across the road from the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool to buy a portable, two ring gas cooker. Bo couldnt understand why the British musicians liked fishnchips. He cooked on that little stove in dressing rooms, hotel rooms and even on the tour bus. Bo liked to make Soul Food long before anyone in the UK had even heard the term. Mickie Most, Brian Jones, and Glen Willings (guitarist for Little Richard), me and Bob Bain used to like the spicy food Bo prepared. Sometimes Richard would pick at a plate and Bo would joke that he was really eating pork and Richard would spit it out. He didnt think that was funny and Bo would reassure him that it really was Bo Diddley chicken then he would laugh loudly and say or maybe it was it chitlins and that of course was even worse for Richard.

All this happened 45 years ago and over the years I would still see Bo occasionally and he even came to Aberdeen.


He once visited my home and couldnt believe how many Jerry Lee records I had. He was also fascinated to see that I had Bo Diddley records on all kinds of labels and he assiduously wrote down the details of every one. Bo had often been ripped off.


This contract was for 130 - not a lot of money for five American musicians back in 1965.

and he once told me, Ive got a great name all over the World but I hardly get paid any royalties and it seems like every damned group is copying me.

I have not really said anything here about Bos music but it stands up for itself as the Jerry Lee Lewis would say.

Bo was a really good man and we are all going to miss him.

  • Upvote 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

write a book?

Cool stories Graham! You need to write a book!

Thanks for the book suggestion Bigsby but I am afraid that it would be far too shocking and would get banned everywhere.

The people I knew back then lived what can only be described as an abandoned lifestyle that makes Pete Doherty look like an amateur.

Some of them are still living in the same rock'n'roll lifestyle they invented.

Some of them like Ike Turner took one "toot" too many. But dying from an overdose at 76 is way he would have wanted to go - better than than be "coshed" on TMZ in an old folk's home.

Others like Jerry Lee lewis keep on going - he has been on a continuous party since he left school.

I am sorry Mr Bigsby but I can't tell any of the old stories in a book as they would be too outrageous - so here is a modern one to make you smile.

Pete Docherty turned up at a Jerry Lee show in the UK in 2006. He had Kate Moss in tow and said he wanted to pay homage to the only survivor of "The Million Dollar Quartet" - the deceased members were Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Elvis.

Kate Moss had previously visited Jerry's house in Memphis so he knew her. Unfortunately he had never heard of Pete Doherty so he never gained entry to the dressing room!

I'll try to find some of the old articles I did for Record Mirror - they might amuse you - but sorry no book.

keep rockin'


Link to comment
Share on other sites

At Bo's Funeral - a floral square guitar

Bo Diddley given rocking send-off

The singer and guitarist's life and music were remembered

Music pioneer Bo Diddley has been given a rocking send-off, with family, fans and friends singing, dancing and paying tribute at his funeral in Florida.

A gospel band played his music as family members passed his coffin, before the choir and hundreds of mourners clapped and chanted his song Hey, Bo Diddley.

Singer Eric Burdon of The Animals paid tribute, while George Thorogood, Tom Petty and Jerry Lee Lewis sent flowers. One floral tribute was delivered in the shape of Diddley's square guitar


Diddley, regarded as one of the fathers of rock 'n' roll, died on Monday.

The 79-year-old suffered heart failure, which followed a recent stroke and heart attack.

His grandson Garry Mitchell was among those who addressed mourners, the Associated Press news agency reported.

"In 1955 he used to keep the crowds rocking and rolling way before Elvis Presley," he said.

Many mourners recounted Diddley's generosity and charity work.

The guitarist's brother, the Rev Kenneth Haynes, said Diddley would always ask how he could help and what he could give, but that he grew weary of life on the road.

He recalled Diddley saying: "But this is what God gave me to feed my family. I have to keep doing it until God says it's enough."

Diddley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987

The guitarist's business manager Faith Fusillo told his family: "Please know this, because I know Diddley. As much as you loved him, he loved you more."

Burdon praised Diddley's energy and influential signature rhythm. "I've been a fan of his since 16, 17 years of age," he said. "Probably one of the first records I ever owned."

The funeral was followed by a concert featuring Diddley's touring band and other musicians.

When Diddley passed away, tributes flooded in from many of music's biggest names, including Sir Mick Jagger, Robert Plant and BB King. Jagger described him as an "enormous force in music" and "a big influence on the Rolling Stones".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...