Bo Diddley (song)
Single reissue with picture sleeve, Chess Records
|Single by Bo Diddley|
|B-side||"I'm a Man"|
|Format||7" 45 RPM, 10" 78 RPM|
|Recorded||March 2, 1955 Universal Recording Studios Chicago, Illinois|
|Genre||Rhythm and blues, rock and roll|
|Producer||Leonard Chess, Phil Chess, Bo Diddley|
|Bo Diddley singles chronology|
"Bo Diddley" is a rhythm and blues and rock and roll song first recorded and sung by Bo Diddley at the Universal Recording Studio in Chicago and released on the Chess Records subsidiary, Checker Records in 1955. It became an immediate hit single that stayed on the R&B charts for a total of 18 weeks, 2 of those weeks at #1, and seven more weeks than its flipside (the B-side, "I'm a Man"). It was the first recording to introduce African rhythms into rock and roll directly by using the patted juba beat. It was Bo Diddley's first recording and his first hit single. The song is featured on many of Bo Diddley's compilation albums including His Best.
The song is rhythmically similar to hambone, a technique of dancing and slapping various parts of the body to create a rhythm and song. It is lyrically similar to the traditional lullaby "Hush Little Baby". When Bo Diddley started playing with it, his electric guitar amplified the patted juba with his backup musicians on maracas and drums unifying the rhythm. This combination of rock and roll, African rhythms and sactified guitar chord shouts was a true innovation and is often called a Bo Diddley Beat.
He first titled his version "Uncle John" but before he recorded it, he changed the title to his own nickname Bo Diddly, with an "e" added to the song's title and his professional name by one of the Chess brothers.
Three weeks after Billboard magazine announced the release of "Bo Diddley", on April 30, 1955, the paper announced two remakes of "Bo Diddley" by the Joe Reisman Orchestra and by Jean Dinning. The Harmonicats released their own version, an instrumental, a few weeks later. "Bo Diddley" went on to became the 17th best selling R&B record of 1955, according to Billboard.
Legacy and awards
This first single was called a "double-sided monster" by All-Music Guide reviewer Richie Unterberger. "Bo Diddley" was infused with waves of tremolo guitar, set to a children's chant. "I'm a Man" was a bump-and-grind shuffle, with a powerful blues riff woven throughout. The outcome was a new kind of guitar-based, blues and R&B-drenched, rock and roll. The song was voted #62 on Rolling Stone magazine's list, "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". The song is also a part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "500 Songs that shaped Rock and Roll" list. In 1998 "Bo Diddley" was given a Grammy Hall of Fame Award.
Single track listings
US 7"/10" Single
- Side one
- "Bo Diddley"
- Side two
UK 7" EP
- Side one
- "Bo Diddley"
- "I'm a Man"
- Side two
UK 7" Single
- Side one
- "Bo Diddley"
- Side two
Buddy Holly Version
|Single by Buddy Holly|
|from the album Reminiscing|
|B-side||"It's Not My Fault"|
|Format||7" 45 RPM|
|Recorded||1956 and 1962 at Norman Petty Recording Studios in Clovis, New Mexico|
|Genre||Rock and roll|
|Buddy Holly singles chronology|
Buddy Holly recorded the song in 1956, but it was not released until the LP Reminiscing in 1963 and later became a single release.
Buddy Holly on vocals/guitar and Jerry Allison on drums recorded "Bo Diddley" at one of their earliest sessions with producer/engineer Norman Petty at his recording studio in Clovis, New Mexico sometime in 1956. In 1962 Norman Petty overdubbed the demo of "Bo Diddley", as well as others, with the Fireballs.
The single release was one of Holly's highest-charting singles on the UK Singles Chart, reaching #4 on the week of July 10, 1963, spending a total of 12 weeks on the chart. In the U.S., the song reached #116 on Billboard magazine's Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.
Other Cover Versions
- The Shadows did a (vocal) cover version on the album Out of the Shadows (1962).
- It was also covered by The Animals in 1964.
- Bob Seger performed the song in a medley with Who Do You Love?, another Bo Diddley song, under the title "Bo Diddley." The original studio recording, backed by Teegarden & Van Winkle, opens Seger's 1972 album Smokin' O.P.'s, and a live version with the Silver Bullet Band appears on his 1976 live album, Live Bullet.
- An energetic version by Janis Joplin is available on the 1999 box set Box of Pearls.
- More recently, steel guitar great Robert Randolph has covered the song at some of his live shows.
- The song was performed by a supergroup consisting of Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters and Little Walter on Super Blues in 1967.
- The Grateful Dead performed it with Bo Diddley himself at the Academy of Music in New York City, March 25, 1972. They went on to perform it by themselves, May 23, 1972 at the Strand Lyceum in London, England, the third to last show in their 1972 European tour. See the officially released Steppin' Out with the Grateful Dead.
- "Reviews of New R&B Records". Billboard: 46. April 9, 1955. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
- His Best (CD liner). Bo Diddley. United States: Chess Records/MCA Records. 1997. CHD-9373. http://aln3.albumlinernotes.com/Bo_Diddley_His_Best.html.
- Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Record Research, Inc. ISBN 978-0-89820-068-3.
- Dawson, Jim and Propes, Steve (1992). What Was the First Rock'n'Roll Record. Boston & London: Faber & Faber. pp. 177–181. ISBN 978-0-571-12939-3.
- "The National Recording Registry 2011". National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress. Library of Congress. May 24, 2012.
- Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 3 - The Tribal Drum: The rise of rhythm and blues. [Part 1]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu.
- Erlewine, Bogdanov, Woodstra (Eds) (1995). All Music Guide to Rock. Miller Freeman Books. p. 244. ISBN 0-87930-376-X.
- "Reviews of New Pop Records". Billboard: 40. April 30, 1955.
- "Reviews of New Pop Records". Billboard: 64. May 21, 1955.
- "1955's Top R&B Records". Billboard: 20. January 7, 1956.
- Unterberger, Richie. "Bo Diddley - Biography". allmusic. United States: Rovi Corporation. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
- Jann S. Wenner, ed. (December 9, 2004). "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone (United States: Jann S. Wenner) (963). Archived from the original on December 19, 2010.
- "The 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on December 19, 2010.
- "Grammy Hall of Fame". Grammy Awards. United States: National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
- "Album Reviews". Billboard: 25. February 16, 1963. Retrieved January 26, 2011.
- "Buddy Holly - Bo Diddley". Chart Stats. 1963-08-24. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
- "Bubbling Under the Hot 100". Billboard: 24. May 11, 1963. Retrieved January 26, 2011.
- On their first album, The Animals, released in 1964. A previously recorded live version of the song by the group, from 1963, has been re-released in multiple formats. See, for example, In The Beginning (1965) and Live At Club A Go-Go(Hallmark, 2008).