by Robert Wilkinson
Ellas Otha Bates, aka Ellas McDaniel, was none other than the legendary Bo Diddley, the man who gave the world "the Bo Diddley beat" and influenced countless songwriters and performers. He would have been 84 today.
Bo Diddley (December 30, 1928 – June 2, 2008) crashed into the rhythm and blues scene in 1955 with "Bo Diddley," and never looked back. His driving rhythms and signature beat influenced everyone from Buddy Holly to the Rolling Stones to the Grateful Dead, and his songs have been covered by some great talent! It's legend that he so pissed off Ed Sullivan by doing "Bo Diddley" rather than "16 Tons" that Sullivan swore he'd never be back on and said he wouldn't last 6 months. Oh well, so much for Ed as prognosticator!
Here's the best clip I could find of him doing the song. Also from 1965, a smokin' performance of "Hey Bo Diddley."
Written around the same time he was hanging out with Chuck Berry, who wrote "You Can't Catch Me," here's that song's twin, written and performed live by Bo Diddley on Shindig in 1965, "You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover"
Live in August 1965, here's Bo on Shindig doing "Road Runner."
Live in 1965 on Hollywood A Go Go, here’s Bo live performing “Let Me Pass”
Also from the mid-60s, Bo live on Hollywood A Go Go doing "Let the Kids Dance."
Though we'll get to more versions of this song later in our set, here's Bo live playing his box guitar at the Sevilla Expo in 1992 backed by Dave Edmunds, Steve Cropper, and a great horn section doing one of his signature tunes, the rocking "Who Do You Love."
From the same gig, here's a great 9 minute set of two of his best known tunes, "Bo Diddley" and "I'm A Man." The latter is one of the most covered songs in history. Here's the original of "I'm A Man."
To give you a sense of just how many he influenced, we'll begin with a 1964 audio-only track of Jimi Hendrix doing "I'm A Man," and live on Shivaree in 1966, an amazing electrifying performance of the Yardbirds featuring Jeff Beck doing "I'm A Man," with Jeff's guitar work somewhere north of incredible!
Live at the Hammersmith Apollo, Roger Daltrey and Jeff Beck live doing "I'm a Man"
From 1973, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley live
And from 1985, all 60 minutes of Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley’s All Star Jam
A great 1987 live performance in the Karlsson, Stockholm Sweden, of Bo doing "Mona." Here's Buddy Holly's 1957 version of "Mona," and here is an audio-only clip of the Rolling Stones live at London’s Camden Theatre in 1964 doing "Mona."
Here's a live 1999 performance at the Fillmore in SF by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers backing Bo Diddley doing "Mona." We'll close this with a great live outdoor performance by Quicksilver Messenger Service in 1969 from Ralph J. Gleason's "Go Ride the Music" of "Mona."
From 1955, the audio-only studio version of “You Pretty Thing”
From 1956, the original studio version of "Who Do You Love?" Here's the George Thorogood audio-only version of "Who Do You Love?" while here you get an audio-only track of Jim Morrison and the Doors doing "Who Do You Love?"
This one's a great find! From December 1973 at the Winterland Ballroom, 20 minutes by one of the hardest rocking Bay area bands, Quicksilver Messenger Service, doing an amazing live performance of "Who Do You Love?" Here's an audio-only 1968 30 minute live performance by Quicksilver on KSAN AM of "Who Do You Love?
From 1988 in Tokyo, a great live performance of Bo Diddley and Ron Wood doing “Who Do You Love”
For our encore, here’s a treat! It’s the Animals with Eric Burdon on lead vocals in the studio version of “The Story of Bo Diddley”
In a strange twist, Bo also co-wrote the Mickey and Sylvia hit, "Love Is Strange." Here's the Buddy Holly version of "Love Is Strange." Libra Mickey Baker just checked out on November 27, so another great guitarist finds his way to Rock and Roll Heaven. "You know they've got a helluva band, yeah, yeah...."
So thanks for the rhythm and blues, Mister Ellas McDaniels. You brought rock and roll one of its primary beats, and taught us how to shake it and shake it well! When that beat starts, it's impossible not to hit the dance floor. "Hey Bo Diddley..."
© Copyright 2012 Robert Wilkinson