“When Bo Diddley comes to town/ the streets get empty and the sun goes down”
Those lyrics, from the 1960 Bo Diddley song “Bo Diddley’s a Gunslinger” are no exaggeration of the man’s stature in rock’n’roll music.
The singer died this morning of heart failure at the rip age of 79. (Here’s the Washington Post obit, and a nice slide show from The New York Times.)
Bo Diddley was a hero of mine and I am sorely disappointed I never had the chance to see him perform. He epitomized an urban version of blues music — his tunes captured all the longing of the Southern original and thundered with the energy of Northern cities. His braggadocio surely inspired the Hip Hop era, whether directly or indirectly. His singing was proud, uncompromising, thought-provoking and ridiculously catchy.
Bo Diddley remains an icon of Black music and of American music. I am sorry to see him go!