Listen to Bo Diddley Play His (Other) Signature Song 50 Years Ago Today

Recorded Aug. 24, 1967, at the Avalon in San Francisco.

Music Features Bo Diddley
Listen to Bo Diddley Play His (Other) Signature Song 50 Years Ago Today

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Today in the Paste Vault, we’re reaching back 50 years to Aug. 24, 1967, and a very special performance by blues innovator Bo Diddley at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco.

In 1967, Diddley was riding high behind the release of Super Blues, a “super-group” album recorded with Muddy Waters and Little Walter. On the record was a version of his iconic, eponymous song “Bo Diddley,” with the unmistakable beat that came to define him. On this night in San Francisco, however, Diddley played “Hey! Bo Diddley,” which utilizes the same beat in a slightly different format. Do they sound similar? Yes they do. But when you pioneer a whole new style of playing music, you get to wear it out.

It can be especially confusing, because the lyrics from the original (and more famous) 1955 recording of “Bo Diddley” include the “Hey Bo Diddley” refrain after each line—i.e., “Bo Diddley done had a farm / hey, Bo Diddley.” The song “Hey! Bo Diddley,” released in 1957, reverses the formula and moves the song off the farm: “Bo Diddley bought his baby a diamond ring / and if that diamond ring don’t shine…”

Above, listen to exclusive recording of Diddley playing in San Francisco. Below, check out two covers of the song: John Hammond in 1969, and The Grateful Dead (sandwiched between “Iko Iko” and “Mona”) in 1991.

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