Just Above Sunset
April 24, 2005 and updated - From the Department of Useless Information

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From Expatica this is most curious.

The event?


In Paris: Bo Diddley

One of the pioneers, and now greatest stars, of rock guitar, 77 year-old Diddley would never received his full acclaim without becoming a cult figure among British rockers after falling from favor in his native US.

A rare appearance in Paris.

April 24

28 boulevard des Capucines
75009 Paris
Tel: 08 92 68 33 68


To the three regular readers in Paris, don’t go out of your way.


On the other hand we glean these facts from the Bo Diddley link above –


1987: Bo Diddley inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and presented his award by ZZ Top who credits this guy with "even teaching us to put fur on our guitars!"

1989: Performs at President G. H. W. Bush's Inaugural gala in Washington, appearing in the "Celebration for Young Americans: Tribute to Rhythm and Blues " with Stevie Ray Vaughn, Joe Cocker and so on

1989: Receives a star in the sidewalk on the Hollywood Hall of Fame

1992: Appeared at the Democratic National Convention's celebration for Bill Clinton in New York City…


And there is more.

It seems Bo Diddley's legal name was Ellas McDaniel, but he was born Otha Ellas Bates.  He got passed around a few families.  He got the stage name Bo Diddley from a one-stringed African guitar thing.

And that’s this morning’s useless information.


Oddly enough, no readers from Paris sent any reaction to this.  Phillip Raines sent a note from Georgia –


Bo Diddley played in Atlanta at the Royal Peacock on Auburn Avenue, a few doors up from the birth place of the SCLC and a few blocks from the birthplace of Martin Luther King.

The club was owned by Clay Harper, a singer, band leader and pizza chain owner - one of my peers who couldn't help but make money everywhere he turned. Clay lined up a band of good players from the general local scene. One of the guys was Brendan O'Brien, who later went on the produce the first Nirvana album and, after that, Mick Jagger's solo album, and not too long ago, Bruce Springsteen's latest album.

I ventured to the gig, which was in a decidedly black section of downtown, but the club dragged in all these new wave (it was the eighties) white kids to the area. It was actually a big risk for Clay to re-open this club with no guarantee it would draw a crowd even with Clay's Midas touch. I talked to Brandon and Clay about working with this living legend.

Clay was nervous when he picked Bo Diddley up at the airport. He told Bo Diddley the band was waiting for him at the club to go over the material and Bo Diddley held up his hand to stop him explaining any details and said, "Just tell me when the gig starts." He had no intention on going over any songs, assuming that the pick-up band was made up of competent musicians they would be able to follow along. Like the pick-up bands that accompany Chuck Berry (who always travels alone, no band) they should be familiar enough with the material to pull it off. In honesty it is really simple music and each song sounds a lot like the next.

Clay took him to the club anyway, where not only the musicians were waiting (for nothing it turns out), but a local news crew had been tipped off (summoned) to interview Bo Diddley. The interview was brief and in it Bo Diddley said - "Everybody playing bum-t-bum-t-bum---t-bum bum. All these white people making money off Bo Diddly's guitar lick, but where's the money for Bo Diddly?"

Well that night the money for Bo Diddley was eight grand and a round trip air ticket in first class and a hotel room at the Hyatt. I thought it was a lot for a 45 minute show by a guy who was sitting down the whole time. Maybe he didn't have his heart in it, or maybe it was an attitude about the white crowd in a formerly black club owned by white punkers smack dab in an area of such important black history.

His stage directions were minimal. Holding his right hind in the air, rolling his fingers, and Brandon would roll the chords on the acoustic piano, or flopping his hand with his pinky and thumb showing for octave trills, or telling Rick Richards (GA Satellite's guitarist) to "take one Guitar man". The drummer knew to lay off the cymbals (as is consistent with the request of older band leaders). It was just such a brief show. The pick-up band played and hour before his show and an hour and a half afterward. It turned into a social evening listening to my pals jamming on rock standards, and this legend playing a predictable set for a short time.

Bo Diddley no longer had to prove he was a legend. The pick-up band members were paid 200 each, though 250 is rate - but Clay is cheap and thought it would be an honor for them to play with a legend. Bob Diddley never learned their names and was only friendly enough to pull off his show with them.

It is commendable that the British rockers learned obscure blues and imitated it, in spirit to bring it to the world in the form of rock-and-roll. Music is more fashion to Brits, and I won't be convinced otherwise. A lot of legends would not have been noticed with out them. A lot of legends weren't all that good, and it took the charisma of fashion-minded British rockers to merit notice.

To Bo Diddley and Little Richard (another chronic braggart) I ask, what have you produced lately? How long do you get to rest on the past laurels you cranked out when you were hot? Sorry you were cheated by the record companies and your style was exploited by the Brit rockers, but you can still make a good buck for an hour's work and be called a legend. That's better than a lot of other players.


Phillip’s writing appears in Just Above Sunset - see the lower left of the home page.  The key music pieces are here and here and here and here.





Late Update: In Defense of Bo Diddley


If I may, I just wanted to correct a few points in your piece about the musician Bo Diddley that appears here.


Bo Diddley is 76 years old, (77 in December 2005).  He was born Ellas Bates and upon adoption he became Ellas McDaniel.  Bo Diddley himself is not sure of the exact origins of his stage name. He only became aware of the musical instrument called the diddley bow in the 1980s, some 30 years after he first began recording as Bo Diddley.  He believes that his name may instead be related to a popular Southern States term for a bad or a mischievous boy.  He was first given the name by his fellow pupils whilst studying at his grammar school in Chicago in the 1940s.


I would also strongly dispute the statement that Bo Diddley has produced nothing of late and simply rested on his laurels in recent years.  He is a tireless campaigner in live performance against the use of misogynistic and dirty lyrics in today's rap music and performs in schools, colleges and churches across the US teaching children and young people the importance of respect and education and the dangers of drugs and gang culture.  He is actively involved with and committed to many charities and non-profit groups across the country.


Bo Diddley has written, recorded and released a number of songs over recent years on related themes, including the post-9/11 "We Ain't Scared Of You", the strongly-worded stay-in-school message of "Kids Don't Do It" and the self-explanatory titled "Wake Up America", "Down With The Pusher", "Ain't It Good To Be Free", "I Don't Want Your Welfare", "Gotta Be A Change" and "Hear What I'm Sayin'" etc.  He has also recently collaborated on a best-selling album of songs for young children.


Currently performing in Europe as part of his 50th anniversary worldwide tour, Bo Diddley is still very much active in the recording studio and in the clubs and the concert halls around the world.  He performed a rousing version of his classic song "Who Do You Love" with George Thorogood & The Destroyers in front of a TV audience of millions at the Live Aid Concert in Philadelphia in 1985.  A couple of years later he was deservedly an early inductee into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.  In 1996 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm 'n' Blues Foundation and in 1998 received another Lifetime Achievement Award this time from The Recording Academy at that year's annual Grammy Awards Ceremony.  More recently, yet further honors were justifiably awarded to him when he was inducted into The Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, The North Florida Music Association Hall of Fame, presented with a Pioneer In Entertainment Award by The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters - and in May 2002, along with Chuck Berry and Little Richard, received an inaugural BMI Icon Award in recognition of his unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers.  In 2004, he was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Blues Hall of Fame.


I hope the above information helps give visitors to your website a fuller appreciation of Bo Diddley's current contributions to popular music.


Best wishes,

David Blakey, Webmaster

BO DIDDLEY-The Originator

A Celebration of his unique contribution to Popular Music. 

1955 to 2005 - Celebrating 50 Years In Music!



Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....