Monday, June 02, 2008

Dum-de-Dum-Dum, Dum Dum, 1928-2008

Long before I had heard the word "mojo" I knew Ellas McDaniel was working some kind of magic. When I was eight or nine I was fascinated by two things: odd-sounding music and cowboys. So when my cousin pulled out a copy of Bo Diddley Is A Gunslinger and put it on his basement record player I was enthralled. First of all, who was called Bo Diddley? No one in my orbit. Second, who in 1962 had heard of a black cowboy? No one who grew up watching Rawhide, Wagon Train and Cheyenne.

And then, there was the sound. Simple, yet spooky. Much darker than the white rockabillies my older brothers favoured, let alone the music on the radio of the day. And that beat. Well, I had heard that on a Buddy Holly record, but who was this guy claiming it as his own, and basing almost every song on it? Something in the audacious minimalism grabbed me and wouldn't let go. Little wonder, then, that The Rolling Stones had me over The Beatles when they covered "Not Fade Away" and then "Mona," or that Bruce Springsteen's "She's The One" has remained one of my favourite of his songs in concert.

So long, Bo. You were one of a kind.

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