According to Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, the influence that Bo Diddley’s records have had is immeasurable, but that’s not the most amazing part of his legacy. “But how heavy is it that a person has a beat named after him?” he asks. Indeed, the “Bo Diddley Beat” has left an indelible mark on the rock landscape, and according to Gibbons it will be immortal. “You can play Bo Diddley for three year olds who can’t speak and yet they start gyrating,” he says. I think we must be wired to respond to it and he just happened to tap into it and deliver it in such a masterful way. And it still works.”
George Thorogood would agree, as one of his biggest hits was a cover of Diddley’s “Who Do You Love.” Thorogood also counted Diddley as a friend. “When I first met him he was kind of standoffish. Once we got going we had a very wonderful relationship,” Thorogood says. “He was very moved by the fact that I was so into his music and I seemed to have a grip on it. I did a concert with him in Australia in 2005, and he played before I did. As he was coming up he stairs I said goodbye to him, he hugged me and grabbed my hand and he whispered, ‘I’m done, George. It’s yours now.'”
Buddy Guy was never close to Diddley, but he was an admirer. “I say he was one of the best guys that ever played the music,” says Guy. “I’m a very religious man and I think we all was put here for a reason. And when Bo came along and came up with that beat he was at the right time at the right place. You gotta give credit where credit is due. He is one that should never be forgotten.”
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Stay tuned to the next issue of Rolling Stone for more rememberances of Bo Diddley, and in the meantime check out the links below for more thoughts from and about the man himself, including a tribute from Iggy Pop.