BRC Director of Operations Darrell McNeill sent me this statement in the wake of the passing of rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Bo Diddley:
The Black Rock Coalition bestows its utmost respect to Ellas Otha Bates McDaniel, known world over as “Bo Diddley.” Not only was he one of the early pioneers of this still-largely misunderstood and misrepresented genre called “rock ‘n roll,” he was also one of the few artists who put his career on the line to challenge the customary predilection to relegate Black artists to the background of credit and compensation.
Bo Diddley’s stripped-down, rhythm guitar-driven influence is indisputable: Elvis Presley, The Isleys, The Clash, Curtis Mayfield, AC/DC, Earth Wind & Fire, The Fixx, INXS, The Beatles, The Police, No Doubt, Fishbone, The Beatles, bad brains, The Rolling Stones, Buddy Holly, Bob Marley, Toots and The Maytals, Nile Rodgers, Prince, Duran Duran, The Black Crowes, Nirvana, David Bowie, T-Rex, The New York Dolls, all the way to contemporary artists like Santogold, Oasis, The Smyrk, Mighty Fine, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Dragons of Zynth, TV On The Radio, The Noisettes, Suffrajett and countless others.
Most importantly, Bo Diddley would not be cowed by the racial discrimination, both overt and covert, that governs the music industry social stratus to this day. He demanded fair payment and credit for his work, even though he alienated himself from the music business establishment in the process and cost himself the acclaim, wealth and security that lesser rockers have attained.
Everyone—Black, White, Green, Purple and Polka Dot—would be better served by developing a better understanding of Bo Diddley, his contributions and his peers.
We extend our condolences to his family and friends at this sorrowful time and hope they take comfort in the massive impact Bo had on the music world.
Words worth remembering, all.