{Bo Diddley onstage}

"The Story Of BO DIDDLEY...":

history 1928-1955
career 50s / 60s / 70s / 80s / 90s / 00s
70th birthday tributes page 1 / 2 / 3
hot news
forthcoming appearances
discography 45s / lps / comps / misc
tv & radio
lady bo page 1 / 2 / 3
jerome green
photo gallery page 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5
guestbook & forum
mean machine
"originator radio"
rare bo
rocklove review
visitors' comments


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BO DIDDLEY - The Originator

A Celebration of his unique contribution to Popular Music.

"Let The Kids Dance..."

We present a review and photos from a concert performance in Port Arthur, Texas on Saturday June 12th 1999, contributed by Carl Cunningham, a freelance music writer for Rocklove.com magazine. You can view Carl's photos in the Photo Gallery here.

Billed as "The Legends of Rock," both BO DIDDLEY and Percy Sledge are seemingly decades past the peaks of their careers. But rock and roll is like life - things aren't always what they appear. Both BO and Percy just came out of semi-retirement with their first new albums in over 20 years, and both are now back on stage with all the vigor, vitality and charisma that earned them that "legendary" status. BO and Percy brought their legendary tunes to the tenth annual Gulf Coast Music Jam, an outdoor show presented in all the warmth and humid splendor of Port Arthur, Texas. A full 30 minutes before he walked on stage, BO DIDDLEY's trademark square guitar became the star attraction. Just after several area musical acts warmed up the sparsely populated crowd, a skinny young guy walked on stage with what some consider the Holy Grail of rock and roll in his hands. Hamilton Loomis, BO DIDDLEY's young heir apparent, carried DIDDLEY's custom-made flame maple-topped guitar across the stage. Dozens of fans rushed the stage with arms outstretched and mouths drooling, begging the Gulf Coast blues prodigy to let them touch BO's guitar. It was just that kind of night where common ordinary music fans got to stand a few feet away from greatness.

The 200 or so fans that had been sitting in lawn chairs and politely clapping for the local musicians suddenly jumped to their feet and lined the edge of the outdoor stage when it was time for Percy Sledge to come out. Without the usual barricades blocking the stage or rowdy bouncers pushing people, they were literally close enough to touch Percy Sledge as he made his way up to the adoring mass of fans, most of whom were over 50. Dressed in the world's bluest blue suit, ultra shiny white shoes and gold jewelry, Percy Sledge was a stunningly short little man for someone of such legendary status. The top of his curly hair didn't even reach the top of the microphone stand, but size didn't matter to the ladies fawning at his feet. With a gap-toothed smile, starry eyes peering out of his round face and overflowing with charm, Percy proceeded to play through a dozen R&B oldies. Percy sang Cover Me, a smooth and sultry song in his signature crooner voice. Every couple there fell into each other's arms to do the waltz as Percy sang to them. On Take Time to Know Her, Percy stepped off the stage and on to a speaker cabinet to get closer to the ladies. They handed him roses and clamored to have his extended hand brush against theirs. Hopping back to the stage, he led the band in the R&B hit I've Got Sunshine. The few fans that didn't have a loved one to dance with formed an impromptu line dance and shook their hips as Percy laughed and kept on singing. He managed to look suave and cool even with sweat dripping off his face and Texas-sized mosquitoes buzzing about him. Percy performed a few borrowed moves from James Brown and Smokey Robinson as he tossed out a round of pelvic thrusts and shook his stuff for the adoring women. Percy's festive mood slipped into a romantic note as his wife Rosa joined him on Warm and Tender Love, a sweet and charming love song. Rosa belted out the song right along with her star husband and showed that she had a mighty singing voice herself. They held each other close like teenagers and thrilled the crowd with some sexy dancing and a long kiss at the end of the song. Rosa stayed for a second duet on Bring it on Home to me, another old R&B standard. In a touching show of devotion, Percy gazed right into her eyes and said, "You know you're the sweetest thing on this earth." He fell to his knees as Rosa wiped his tears. All the ladies in the crowd looked green with envy and had tears in their eyes too. Percy then played through two more R&B songs - Wilson Pickett's In the Midnight Hour and Otis Redding's Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay. He let out a sizzling James Brown "Yeow!" in the Pickett tune and even did the closing whistle on Redding's classic song. Percy was saving his best for last. The crowd begged for When a Man Loves a Woman, and he was about to give it to them. He thanked them for their devotion and for giving him the chance "to still be playing my songs for all you good people." Ben E. King's classic Stand By Me brought the crowd to an inspiring sing along. He followed with a powerful cover of Whiter Shade of Pale, the moody Procul Harum hit of so many years ago. It turned out that he was saving the best for last. Percy gave a nod to the backing band to start the mournful opening notes of When a Man Loves a Woman, and the ecstatic Texas crowd yelled in approval. This song is his - not Michael Bolton's - and Percy played it slowly and soulfully as only Percy can. He sang that old song from the bottom of his heart, and the crowd knew it. They all had their eyes closed and had the one they love in their arms and were singing along in each other's ears. Rosa Sledge strolled out for a solo on the third verse and held Percy as the band played on. They walked off stage with their arms outstretched to the crowd and left with a big wave goodbye.

After Hamilton Loomis and the Prime Time Players blew out a smoking blues set of nine rambunctious and energetic songs, it was just about time for BO DIDDLEY to make his mark on the few dozen fans that braved the afternoon heat, thunderstorms and coastal bugs. Loomis led his backing band in a five minute long opening of BO DIDDLEY's famous DIDDLEY-beat he crafted so many years ago. With maracas shaking and Loomis wailing away on guitar, BO strapped on his distinctive guitar and asked, "Are you ready to rock and roll?" His big hands slid up and down the neck of his guitar like a Casanova putting the moves on his sexy seniorita. He slid into Hey!BO DIDDLEY his namesake song from 1957's Checker label 45. This version is twice as rocking as the 42 year-old original and clocks in three times as long. With no break between songs, gunslinger BO tore into it. Decked out in his beloved black fedora, a comfortable shirt and dark slacks, the only hint of BO's 70 years of living was the stark white hair poking out from under his hat. Just two songs into his set, BO is reserved and is rather calmly putting out some old time rock and blues. Then he showed that he was just getting warmed up. A wicked grin came over his face, and he said, "This one's for the young folks." BO conjured up some wild sound effects out of his guitar as he slowly crept across the stage. Each time he moved a leg or an arm, his guitar would creek and moan in agony. He brushed away a bug and scratched his nose, and the guitar screeched and scratched right along with him. BO DIDDLEY was obviously having a good time poking fun at his advancing age. Even though he's entering his golden years, BO's still got the stuff he had in his youth. On I'm a Man, BO pulled out all the stops to show that he still had it. He shook and shimmied and drove the ladies crazy with lines like "I can make you shake like a California earth quake, I can make your knees knock like an aftershock." His ultimate blues song was perfectly complimented by electrifying harmonica playing by Loomis. This song was BO's chance to lay down some classic BO DIDDLEY riffs all over that outdoor stage. The sexually suggestive Do You Like My Stuff? followed with BO's unique blend of rap, blues and rock. BO was actually on his toes with his knees flapping back and forth and had his hands in the air doing the wave as his backing band kept up the DIDDLEY beat. "Have no fear, the Mighty BO DIDDLEY's here," he bragged while getting down and charming the crowd. Even with white hair and a wrinkled face, BO DIDDLEY is still the funkiest damn old man on the planet. Some more BO guitar twang and fuzz followed on The Mule, which showed BO has an incredible vocal range for a man in his 70's. He walked right up to the edge of the stage and stood absolutely still with nothing moving but his fingers across the strings. BO is no guitar virtuoso, but he shows amazing taste and heart in every note he plays. BO ended his rowdy set on an instrumental version of his best known classic hit Who do You Love? Just as he was about to step up to the microphone to sing, two voluptuous blondes hopped on stage and started dancing and showing BO a little flesh. With the pleasant distraction, BO forgot about singing the words and just played his guitar while the scantily clad girls danced and flirted with him. At 15 minutes after midnight, BO must have decided he'd played long enough. Hamilton Loomis took over on guitar, and BO carefully put his spectacular guitar back on its stand, gave a hearty wave and a farewell kiss to the ever-thinning crowd and stepped into the shadows.

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