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Bo did know Diddly

Posted Monday, June 2, 2008, at 8:39 PM

As my fingers type these words, my ears are listening to Bo Diddly's 1961 album, "Bo Diddly is a Gunslinger."

The thumping, chugging beat of Diddly's fifth full-length release is practically bouncing my chair up-and-down to the staccato beat.

I put that particular disc in my CD player this afternoon not only because it has been too long since I've listened to it, but also because the legendary Bo Diddly passed away earlier today (June 2).

Diddly (birth-name Ellas Bates, later changed to Ellas McDaniel), battling heath problems the past few years, died of apparent heart failure in his Florida home. He was 79.

Diddly's fingerprints and guitar licks are all over what we call modern rock-n-roll.

And as such, its safe to call the man a true inventor.

Starting out on the not-so-rock-n-rollish violin as a youngster, Diddly quickly switched to guitar after hearing John Lee Hooker's 1949 breakthrough hit, "Boogie Chillen."

And for that, we are fortunate.

Known for his trademark shave-and-a-haircut (boom, ba-da boom, boom, boom/boom, boom) beat, Diddly influenced scores of musicians, from Buddy Holly, all the way to George Thorogood to U2 and beyond. As a matter of fact, Thorogood's 1978 cover of Diddly's "Who Do You Love," was actually the Delaware Destroyer's first hit and also paved the way for Thorogood's future work, like his mega-smash "Bad to the Bone" in 1982. Diddly was even in the MTV video for "Bad to the Bone," playing pool in a smoky bar with Thorogood.

For just this pioneering spirit alone, Diddly was selected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the late 1980s.

But the native of McComb, Miss.,also had a profound impact on the sports world, paired with a larger-than-life athlete that shared the same first name with Mr. Diddly.

Bo Jackson.

Seems like for a couple of years in the early 90s, you couldn't turn on the television for more than an hour or so at a time without seeing Nike's commercial blitzkrieg featuring Bo Diddly and Bo Jackson.

At the time, Jackson was blazing his own pioneer trail, playing baseball for the Kansas City Royals/Chicago White Sox, while also donning shoulder pads as a top-flight running back for the Los Angles Raiders.

The commercial spots, for Nike's cross-training sneakers, really played up Jackson's multi-sport's personality and featured the former Auburn Tiger as a standout in a number of different sports - such as tennis, weight-lifting and hockey.

After brief clips of the different sports, John McEnroe, a number of body builders, Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan all exclaim - "Bo knows ... (tennis, hockey, etc.).

The spots also featured a tough-looking Diddly, wearing his trademark dark glasses and black hat, with his unique looking square-bodied guitar slung over his shoulder.

At the end of those commercials, it showed Jackson picking up a guitar and unleashing a torrent of teething-rattling, less-than-pleasing noise.

Then the camera plans over to a bemused Diddley, who after hearing this racket, exclaims "Bo, you don't know Diddley."

Still some of the funniest stuff around, even some 18 years later.

So for your contributions to the very foundation of rhythm-and-blues and rock-n-roll, you are owed more thanks than we could every muster, Bo.

And for making the time between quarters of the NCAA Basketball Tournament in the early 90s more bearable, we offer up even more thanks for your immense talent and excellent sense of humor, Bo.

RIP, Mr. Diddly.

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Hey, Terry:

Bo Diddley was my favorite rock-n-roller when I was a young punk. Now that I'm an old punk, I still love his music.

Lyrics from "Who Do You Love"

I walk 47 miles of barbed wire,

I use a cobra-snake for a necktie,

I got a brand new house on the roadside,

Made from rattlesnake hide,

I got a brand new chimney made on top,

Made out of a human skull,

Now come on take a walk with me, Arlene,

And tell me, who do you love?

RIP, Mr. Diddley

-- Posted by Bret Burquest on Mon, Jun 2, 2008, at 10:02 PM

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Terry Mullins, Sports Editor
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Since my own high school sports career fizzled out before it really reached its zenith, I have managed to live vicariously through the student/athletes of the 16 high schools I've covered for Areawide Media since 2001. I've witnessed the highest of highs in the form of state championships. I have also seen first-hand the sting of disappointment when the ultimate prize was within reach, but still eluded the grasp of its pursuer. But through all the ups and downs associated with high school sports, my respect for the young competitors that suit up each night, along with the men and women who guide them, remains unwavering. Blog mission: With my passion for music, especially live music, running second only to my passion for sports, I'll try to devote this space to both. Especially when it concerns our region and what's happening around it. Look for commentary and features on area sports figures and musicians, along with things to get out and do in the beautiful Spring River/Ozarks area. But I'll not totally ignore the outside - I'll also hit on some national happenings in the wide worlds of sports and music.
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