Monday, June 2, 2008

The Originator

You may find it hard to believe but I've easily seen well over one thousand concerts. They've been in venues ranging from arenas to the smallest imaginable venues. Still I kick myself for not having seen Muddy Waters and Bob Marley when I was a kid. I was in my mid-teens and headed in a different musical direction the last time Muddy performed in my hometown. As for Marley, I had no way of knowing his last time through would in fact be the last. It was a lesson well-learned.

As a result, I've gone out of my way to see those musical heroes that I, for whatever reason, have not yet seen. This was further reinforced by the Sept. 11 attacks and the not entirely coincidental, simultaneous deterioration of my heath. (A traumatic brain injury + PTSD will make a very sick fella sicker -- those fuckers flew right by our apartment). Shortly thereafter, we started "The List."

Since then we've caught such musical giants as Dick Dale, Joe Jackson, Eddie Palmieri (w/La Perfecta II!) and took Mrs. Forester to see two she had never before seen: Radiohead and The Who.

Now I've dug Bo as long as I can remember. His (literally) signature "Bo Diddley beat" is a cornerstone rock & roll groove. It has provided a foundation for the likes of Buddy Holly ("Not Fade Away"), The Rolling Stones (a more Bo than Buddy "Not Fade Way" plus "Mona" and ), The Pretenders ("Cuban Slide"), The Smiths ("How Soon Is Now?"), Bruce Springsteen (She's The One), The Who "Magic Bus", Patti Smith, U2 ("Desire"), Jimi Hendrix, The Del Fuegos ("Out for a Ride"), George Thorogood (covered "Who Do You Love"), The White Stripes ("Screwdriver"), Dave Edmunds/Nick Lowe/Rockpile, The New York Dolls, The Clash (Mr. Diddley opened for their first American tour in '79), Tom Petty, Aerosmith, Van Morrison/Them, The Jesus and Mary Chain (wrote "Bo Diddley Is Jesus" & covered "Who Do You Love"), Iggy Pop/Stooges (Iggy's RS appreciation here), The Flamin' Groovies, Eric Clapton, The Undertones/That Petrol Emotion, Chris Isaak (covers "Diddley Daddy" & "Bring It To Jerome"), Creedence Clearwater Revival, Stray Cats, The Yardbirds (covered "I'm A Man"), Treat Her Right/Morphine, The criminally underrated Pretty Things (covered "Mama, Keep Your Big Mouth Shut" & "Pretty Thing", natch), The Strangeloves ("I Want Candy") and even George Michael ("Faith"). That's just off the top of my head. Rolling Stone ranked Bo Diddley at #20 on their list of rock & roll's The Immortals.

Because my seizures were not yet under control, I'm a little fuzzy as to whether got out of the hospital in late 2001/early 2002. I do know the very first gig we went to was my one and only Bo Diddley experience. Bo played all the hits. He was funny, bawdy and brilliant. It was a great night. This show helped me feel normal for the first time in a long while. Music is powerful medicine indeed.

Whatever it is that makes you happy, be it music or fine art or professional sports, save your pennies and make the time to see the very best in person. It's good for the soul. The memories are forever. You may not have the chance later.

Bo Diddley
died today at the age of 79.


PS Check out one of the better relatively recent Bo Diddley pieces by Neil Strauss here.