The Bo Diddley Interview
Bo on his Roots & George Thorogood

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SG: Most of the younger musicians consider your music to be the basic roots of Rock and Roll. Where does your inspiration come from?

BD: The white cats have their own way expressing my music. They express it in a higher tone than I do. I express it from a feeling standpoint. Things I’ve probably lived. They haven’t lived it because they are in a different society and that’s the reason they don’t know the background of where it came from. Old Black dudes singing songs like “Oh I git up in de morning, go out to the field and pick a bale o’cotton. Water boy bring water, it’s so hot today...” Things like that later modernized themselves. Today if I did the same song I couldn’t do it like the old dude. Sure I picked cotton when I was a little kid, but I was never to the point where I was sweating and dragging a big long sack behind me. So, I don’t know what he was feeling. But if I sang after hearing him I’d sing it something like this “I get up in the morning, pick a bale of cotton, water boy bring me water cause I’m getting hot.”” (Bo does it in double time.) All I know is that the sun gets hot. That would be my whole idea. Because I can’t visualize that other trip. That’s the difference, white musicians call themselves singing blues but they really don’t know what they’re doing. They’re doing a good job of what they’re doing, but they don’t know the background to it because they haven’t lived it. The only way you live that is to be brought up in an all Black or mixed neighborhood and you’re around Black cats all the time. You learn about soul food.

SG: Ribs...

BD: Yea ribs. And you start eating chitlins, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip roots, and...

SG: Playing in the street?

BD: Yea, dribbling basketballs in a vacant lot and throwing alley apples. Alley apples are half a house brick in a vacant lot. Then you can sit up and say I’ve been there. Maybe not to the bottom of the bucket, but I’ve been in it. You take a dude who’s just heard me do a blues song and jumps off because his voice might suit it. He decides he wants to copy that particular tune and all of a sudden he’s a genius in blues.

SG: Like George Thorogood?

BD: But Thorogood has a little background. The dude is something else. I like Thorogood. This monkey called me up at my house not too long ago and said “Bo Diddley what you doing?” I said “Who in the hell is this? George? Thorogood? Where are you at?” He said “I’m in New York City.” I talked to him a while. I guess he got lonesome and said I’m going to call someone up and freak them out. So he called me up. Yea he’s a good dude. I like him.

SG: What about new material?

BD: I’ve got a song called “Ain’t It Good To Be Free” and on the other side will be two good ones together “Wake Up America” and “I’m Gonna Shut You Down Baby.” Which is a more contemporary tune that the kids are into, it ain’t disco, and you can tell it’s me,

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