Mr. Diddley

by wjw on June 2, 2008

Bo Diddley, the big, goofy-looking bow-legged guy with the homemade guitar, has died.

He made the first guitar tremolo control out of auto parts and a clockwork spring, and he popularized the Bo Diddley beat that has been used by Buddy Holley, Elvis, The Who, Springsteen, and the White Stripes among many others.

His guitar technique was uniquely his own: he’d learned the violin first and he applied violin technique to his playing. His hands were too big to use the frets, so he tuned the guitar so that he could play chords by sliding his finger up and down the guitar neck.

When his career faded, in the Seventies, he lived just down the road from me, in Los Lunas (though I wasn’t living here at the time). He became a deputy sheriff and donated three cars to the sheriff’s department before his career was revived with an appearance in a George Thorogood video and a tour with the Clash.

The NY Times obituary, Kathy notes, refers to him as “Mr. Diddley.”

Good for them.

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