Saturday, June 07, 2008

The day I met Bo Diddley

By John Stephan

Bumbershoot Arts Festival, Seattle, Washington, 1981 or '82.

As a member of the Isaac Scott Band, I opened for Bo Diddley at the Mural Amphitheatre for a crowd of about 10,000. We'd played a great set, and they wanted an encore; much to the chagrin of Bo and his road manager, who was telling us to stop because "Bo's got to catch a plane after his set." This guy was pulling our AC cords out of the wall one minute, and then asking me if Bo could use my amp!

I had just about the only 100-watt Mesa Boogie amp in town, then. Bo was trying to connect my amp with an old rented blonde Fender Twin, as Jr. Cadillac (his backing band), a video cam operator, and 10,000 people watched on. The Twin was blowing a tube or whatever, and I refused to let him connect the two amps together. Bo, with a little piece of fried chicken hanging out of the corner of his mouth, had no more patience for me, and said "You don't understand- I don't play like you. I don't play that one-note shit, I get down!". Isaac was practically rolling on the stage laughing!

So Bo got up there and completely tore that crowd up! He was great, and had only 2 strings left on his guitar when it was all over (it still sounded about the same!). I grabbed my amp, and Bo caught his plane. He never thanked me! So goes the story of how I repaid my portion of the world debt to Bo Diddley for all the great music he's brought us.


Zab said...

I never would a recognized John from his photo!
What a great story. I had heard that Bo preferred to travel alone and use local bands for backup...this just kinda confirms that with a personal touch.

Mike Lynch said...

That photo is from Bo's "The Black Gladiator" album that was released in 1970.