When we received word that Bo Diddley had passed away at age 79 in 2008, immediately my thoughts went to George Thorogood who most certainly was saddened. But George doesn’t need me to explain why, because it was he and his Delaware Destroyers who reminded us that Summer thirty years earlier just how vital, seminal, and timeless Bo Diddley’s music was, as well as Elmore James, Chuck Berry, and even Hank Williams, all of whom were covered in Thorogood’s undiluted bare knuckle style on the second album, Move It on Over .
Bo Diddley’s infectious signature sound was five choppy guitar chords played in answer to every vocal line, and four and a half of them were the same chord! And who needs to change the key for the chorus? What chorus? Once infected with the Bo Diddley beat, the fever spread rapidly and you just couldn’t shake it. Buddy Holly caught it in “Not Fade Away”, Johnny Otis got it too in “Willie and the Hand Jive”, The Who spread it while riding the “Magic Bus”, Bruce Springsteen got a bad case in “She’s the One”, and U2 proved not immune on the fabulous “Desire”.
Bo Diddley (L) and Chuck Berry, Madison Square Garden, New York City 1972
Bo Diddley (born Elias Bates, then changed his surname to McDaniel when adopted) told the New York Times in 2003, ” I opened the door for a lot of people, and they just ran through leaving me holding the knob.” But I am sure that he did not include George Thorogood in that assessment, who singlehandedly planted Bo Diddley’s flag on US FM rock radio thirty five years ago by covering “Who Do You Love”, as well as Hank Williams’ “Move It on Over”, which is arguably the first rock and roll song – ever. – Redbeard