Bo Diddley

I saw Bo Diddley live a couple years ago. He was already pushing 80 at that point, and he had to be literally carried onstage. He also had two opening acts, meaning his set was unusually, and understandably, short. But damn that guy has charisma. His technical work wasn’t anything to get excited about – he just sat there strumming his weird rectangular-box guitar to his eponymous beat, while the backing band propped him up. But he had so much energy, and put everything into that strum, everything into the limited lyrics he had, everything into his banter and verbal abuse of his bandmates. He didn’t even bother to break it up into the song-song-song-banter-song-song-banter format most concerts use; he played for a good hour without stopping, flowing from seamlessly song to song, and adding in cracks and commentary when he felt like it. It was kind of a delirious blur by the end of it, but damned if most 77-year-olds couldn’t even hope to try something like it. He was better than us, the audience, he was better than his bandmates, he was better than everybody, and he didn’t feel any hesitation in stating or demonstrating it. He could do whatever he wanted – he was Bo freakin’ Diddley.
Bo Diddley died today, and that sucks. Yeah, he had a long and accomplished career, yes he’s respected by anyone and everyone, yes, 79 is actually a little older than average – but he won’t give that kind of show anymore. More importantly, no one will get to see that kind of show anymore. And that sucks.

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