When I was fourteen I was into Little Richard, Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran. I loved the energy of good Rock ‘n’ Roll. Then came the Beatles.
After the raw energy of fifties Rock ‘n’ Roll the early sixties Pop-Rock of the Teen Idols and surviving Rockers, with their soft-rock/pop, didn’t really cut it for me. But that Beatles first album was right back to the energy of that Rock ‘n’ Roll era – except this was ours. I was fourteen and blown away. I had my own music.
Of course, at school, our group of musos were discussing little else. The Beatles had blown the doors down. But one of the older lads did not agree. Rather than wanting to get his hands on that first Beatles album he professed to wanting to get the latest Chuck Berry offering – Chuck Berry On Stage (a fake live album recorded in the studio with dubbed MC and audience). That made an impression on me. The guy had taste and I respected him. I hadn’t really heard any Chuck Berry up until then so I went out and bought it. I didn’t know it was a fake live album and I wouldn’t have cared anyway – it was brilliant.
That set me off collecting Chuck Berry stuff. I loved that guitar and I adored the stories he told with those lyrics. My favourite album was More Chuck Berry – it was a fabulous album with tracks like – Sweet Little Rock ‘n’ Roller, Anthony Boy, Beautiful Delilah, Reelin’ and Rockin’, Little Queenie, Brown Eyed Handsome Man and the amazing Too Much Monkey Business. I played it to death and still have my battered original.
It was great to have the original when the Beatles, Stones, Yardbirds and every other Beat group were all doing their covers of Chuck. I loved what the British bands did with that stuff but the originals were just as good.
My love of Chuck got me into Bo Diddley. Where as Chuck had these fabulous innovative riffs Bo had this amazing infectious jungle beat that blew me away. He was larger than life – brash, self-assured even arrogant with those loud suits, bragging lyrics and amazing guitars.
I remember that album – Bo’s Big 16 – which had 16 of his hits. All of them were gems.
It was no wonder that Chuck and Bo (along with Jimmy Reed) became the staple of every British Beat group going.
This is a track from 1956 that really demonstrates just how innovative Bo was. The guitar, the vocals, the sounds – the whole concept. I love this track to bits.