Song 1: Bo Diddley/Who Do You Love

Posted in Dancing about architecture on August 13th, 2008 by bill

BoDiddley.jpg
Bo Diddley’s influence was not just musical, but sartorial (see also: Isaac Hayes, R.I.P.).

Somebody has to represent the African-American inventors of rock’n’roll on the list, and while I have much respect for Little Richard, his singular vocal style and use of the piano as primary instrumentation place him outside the mainstream. Chuck Berry is the obvious choice, maybe even the smart one, but the late Ellas McDaniel (a.k.a. Bo Diddley) was arguably even more innovative. Rock’n’roll famously changed popular music by placing the emphasis on rhythm rather than melody; Diddley took it one step further and added an element of pure sound, pioneering the use of reverb and distortion that Jimi Hendrix would later take into outer space.

But while Bo had one foot in the future, he also had one way back in the past. The rumbling drums found in most of his music are a direct link to rock’s African roots. He was most famous, of course, for the Bo Diddley beat, but even when he didn’t use it — as on “Who Do You Love” — he could lay down the tribal thunder with the best of them.
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