Song of the Day: Bo Diddley “Spanish Guitar”
Bo Diddley is musical royalty. He is a guitar god. He is a great musical pioneer, innovator and founder. He is a catalyst for major developments in popular music on a global scale. The ultra-groovy, moody instrumental, “Spanish Guitar”, comes to you from his third studio album entitled, Have Guitar, Will Travel. This 1960 release on the Checker label contains songs that have gone on to be among his most loved enduring classics, including the often covered, “Cops and Robbers”.
I can go into a glorious trance any day of the week listening to this genius man’s sounds, rhythms, textures and messages. The old phrase, “often imitated, never duplicated” has never been more applicable than to the ‘“Bo Diddley Beat”.’ There have been countless interpretations of his sound and unique approach to the ancient ‘clave‘ pattern that forms the basis of his signature cadence. This ‘beat’ helped to infuse African rhythmic sensibilities into the roots of Rock ‘n Roll, and a multitude of other popular musical styles. Bo knows!
Bo Diddley was born in McComb, Mississippi as Elias Otha Bates in 1928. In 1934, he relocated to the South Side of Chicago with his mother’s cousin who was his adoptive mother. The young Elias assumed her surname of “McDaniel” and began performing in his local Baptist church as a trombonist and violinist while still a teen. Inspired by the pulsating rhythms that he heard at a local Pentecostal church along with performances by the likes of John Lee Hooker, Elias McDaniels picked up the guitar. Quickly forming groups of his own, he achieved local success as Bo Diddley and began recording with Chess Records. A 1955 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show introduced him to a national audience. He went on to conquer the world, influencing generations of musicians in his path. He left this world in 2008, but his music and impact will last forever. Long live Bo Diddley!