BO DIDDLEY  12/30/26

“I opened the door for a lot of people, and they just ran through and left me holding the knob.”    Bo Diddley

When I was trying to break into the music business, one of the first Rock and Roll stars I met was Bo Diddley. It was backstage in a rehearsal room at an Alan Freed show in 1959. I would’ve been happy with an autograph and a few words of encouragement, but Bo put himself out there.

When I asked him how does he get “his sound”, he actually took a few minutes to show me. He took my acoustic guitar and re-tuned it to an open e chord and handed it back to me. I tried to play the usual way with the fingering I learned, but it sounded horrible.

He smiled and took the guitar and played his signature, “Hey Bo Diddley” riff playing the open E chord, then barring the 5th fret when he wanted to change the chord to A. He was about to show me how it sounded on his electric  guitar and his little rehearsal amp when Jackie Wilson and Jimmy Clanton came in with Bobby Darin wanting to use the phonograph to play an acetate of his next single, “Dream Lover”.

The stage manager announced that the next show was in a half hour and all guests would have to leave. Bo never finished my lesson and I never saw him again but I’ll never forget the kindness he showed me.

To quote Alan O’Day and Johnny Stevenson’s song,

“If you believe in forever, life is just a one night stand

If there’s a Rock and Roll Heaven, you know they’ve got a hell of a band!”

Bo Diddley R.I.P. Rock In Perpetuity

Respectfully, Artie Wayne

Click on to see a short but electrifying clip of Bo in his prime                

Photo of Bo Diddley courtesy of Bobby Lloyd Hicks whose story performing with Bo appears among the comments below

To view “Rock and Roll Heaven”                                                

From my forthcoming book, “I Did It For A Song”
Copyright 2009 by Artie Wayne