Here’s a poster Alton Kelley (and Stanley Mouse) did for Bo Diddley, the pioneer rocker who followed Kelley into the great unknown yesterday. Bo Diddley was already legendary in 1966, one of the legends of our youth. He invented the bo diddley beat. It sounded so simple when you listened to it, but it was hard or impossible for aspiring rockers to pull off — that relentless driving cross the night.
I was still in high school in 1959 when my more intelligent Palo Alto girl friend introduced me to its grinding, insinuating rhythm, although we were sitting in her parent’s living room with all the lights on. She flipped on her new LP and swung it into “Hey, Bo Diddley”, then the one I couldn’t get out of my head for weeks, “Diddley Didlley Diddley Diddley Daa-aah-die”. Bless you, girl. By 1966, when he appeared at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco, he’d already finished his first brush with fame, and was on the comeback trail. Actually, Bo wasn’t particularly rave among the hippies and promoter Chet Helms took a chance by booking him. But the Paul Butterfield Blues Band had blown the hippies away when they arrived in San Francisco the preceding spring. The Chicago masters soon followed in their wake – Muddy Waters and James Cotton became San Francisco regulars, and an unknown named Steve Miller (The Steve Miller Blues Band in those days) showed up a little later. So by the time of this July concert the pump had been primed to go beyond Chicago blues…and into the Chicago bo diddley beat.