Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bo Diddley (and his great Bo Diddley beat)

The other day Jane and I were driving near Shady Grove Lane in Westtown, PA and I decided to play her the recording of Shady Grove by Quicksilver Messenger Service, which I knew she had never heard, but I had been thinking about. 

Upon hearing Quicksilver's unusual, but highly exciting, version of this old folk song, I asked Jane what, if anything, came to her mind. 

She quickly said, "it's got the Bo Diddley beat".

I was extremely pleased and proud of her, almost as much as I was when I checked out her iTunes listing of her favorite songs and found it heavily weighted with Carl Perkins, Howlin' Wolf and Louvin Brothers numbers.  (I mean, she's only 13; the songs on the list were all her choices.)

I think only four "modern" rock bands have ever been able successfully to play the music of the great Bo Diddley:  The Pretty Things, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Dr. Feelgood and the New York Dolls.

They're all favorites of mine. Some marvelous performances by each group are included below:

The Pretty Things

Quicksilver Messenger Service

Dr. Feelgood

New York Dolls


  1. Curtis, I attended this show in Camden Town in March, 1964.

    Apologies for the lip-synching.

    These innocent little lambs, looking pure as the driven snow, were about Jane's age back then.

    The moment when White Boys assimilated Bo Diddley.

    She will surely recognize the traces.


  2. Hi and thanks so much for this, which is great. From what I see and everything I've heard about early Rolling Stones shows, it must have been incredible. Bo's musical and lyrical individuality is quite something; I gravitate back to Who Do You Love? all the time. Several years ago, I was listening to the car radio when a NYC radio DJ phoned Bo to wish him a happy birthday. Bo was watching the Judge Judy program on television (a favorite of his) and obliged the DJ by improvising a (naturally) tough, cool Bo Diddley song on the subject of the sort-of-jurist (I know he rhymed "Judy" and "duty" and made it sound right). Buried for a few more days in cramming and worrying and then I guess/hope I'm free of that. Freezing here in PA today, but everyone was friendly and cheerful at the polling station, which is always nice. Hope you're well. Curtis