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vol 5 - issue 10 (jun 2003) :: interviews
CHICKENHEAD PAST: BO DIDDLEY
interview by debbie

DURING OUR FIRST YEAR, FROM SEPTEMBER 1999 TO AUGUST 2000, WE WERE KNOWN UNDER THE MONIKER CHICKENHEAD. DURING THAT FIRST YEAR, WE INTERVIEWED A LOT OF PEOPLE. NOT ALL OF THEM WERE GREAT INTERVIEWS. YOU CAN TELL THAT WE WERE JUST STARTING TO FIGURE OUT OUR STYLE. BUT WE'VE PICKED TWELVE INTERVIEWS OUT FROM THAT FIRST YEAR THAT EPITOMIZED WHAT WE WERE TRYING TO DO. DURING JUNE, JULY, AND AUGUST WE WILL BE PLACING THESE OLD INTERVIEWS ONLINE FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE. THERE WILL BE FOUR NEW INTERVIEWS EACH MONTH. ENJOY THIS BLAST FROM TASTES LIKE CHICKEN'S PAST!

INTERVIEW: BO DIDDLEY

ORIGINAL PRINT DATE: JULY 2000


YOU CAN HAVE YOUR LIMP BIZKITS AND MATCHBOX TWENTYS. WE GOT THE HEART AND SOUL OF REAL ROCK 'N' ROLL RIGHT HERE. BORN OTHA ELLAS BATES McDANIEL IN McCOMB, MISSISSIPPI, BO DIDDLEY PRACTICALLY CREATED THE GENRE THAT SPAWNED CATS LIKE JIMI HENDRIX AND LED ZEPPELIN. ARMED WITH HIS FAMOUS HOMEMADE SQUARE GUITAR, DIDDLEY CUT NUMEROUS HIT TRACKS LIKE "I'M A MAN" AND "WHO DO YOU LOVE?" NOW, 45 YEARS LATER, DIDDLEY'S STILL GOT IT, AND HE'S USING IT TO RAISE OUR COLLECTIVE SOCIAL AWARENESS. OUR VERY OWN DEBBIE GETS THE SCOOP ON THE MAN WHO SHOULD BE "THE KING".

Debbie: So, how's the millennium treating you so far?

Bo: It's okay. Things haven't changed. Same ol' stuff day after day.

D: What's the strangest thing to happen to you while touring?

B: Getting stranded somewhere and gettin' an airplane flight cancelled. That's the strangest thing to happen.

D: Do people still bring up that whole "Bo Knows Baseball" thing you did with Bo Jackson?

B: Yeah, sometimes. That was a good thing.

D: When I saw you in concert, you played a song called "Kids, Don't Do It". When did you take up your campaign to warn kids about the dangers of guns and drug abuse?

B: I've been doing that for a long time. I haven't been getting the recognition for making a stand on that. The song represents kids trying to be constructive, not destructive. What I'm saying to the children of today is that the reason why we look like we're having so many problems with our youngsters is because nobody's getting their butts whipped. When they talk back to their parents, they don't get smacked in the mouth like I did. When mama say something, she only say it one time. Parents today just accept anything they get that comes out of a kid's mouth. This thing about, "I don't believe in hitting," that don't work. See, if that's the case, then why is police out here in the streets shooting people? They don't believe in shooting the dude, but if it gets to a point where the man may be a bit hard to handle, they'll bust him up. Parents have the authority to whoop your butt when you do wrong, 'cause they're raising you so that you could have some respect for your fellow man. These kids today, a lot of them ain't getting that. I can say all this because I got my butt whipped. I didn't like it. But I don't hate my mama 'cause she knocked me on my butt.

D: You mentioned the police having to rough up an unmanageable suspect as an act of self-defense. What do you think of the case of Amadou Diallo, the man that was shot 41 times by cops in New York?

B: There is no reason for that. I don't understand. No man is that damn bad, ya' know? And then this guy didn't even have a gun. I used to be a deputy sheriff in New Mexico. You don't have to be that evil. You're out there to protect. I can almost say what happened is racial. I can almost say that if he had been another nationality, it might not ever have happened. But you got some people that do their little dirty work and hide behind a badge. That looks like part of what was happening there. Ya know, I can't say, but 41 times,.. man, goddamn!

D: Have you always been on this kind of crusade to increase consciousness?

B: I've been talking ever since I knew that there was a problem. But I could never get the records (Promises and Breakin' Through The B.S.) played. There's two versions of "Kids, Don't Do It". One's on Triple X Records, and one is on Code Blue, which is Atlantic. Ya know, they (the radio) play all this garbage and stuff, but they never play nothing like that. I wrote that song before that Columbine crap. I guess I'm classified as a has-been or some shit like that. I don't know. But I got 45 years under my belt of rock 'n' roll. I was at the beginning of it, ya know? The very beginning. Elvis Presley didn't start no goddamn rock 'n' roll. He got on the bandwagon while it was rolling. It was Chuck Berry and myself that came out; and Alan Freed started calling it "rock 'n' roll". A lot of people don't know this, but I'm not dead. I'm still here to tell the truth. I'm not bitter because the man made some money and made movies and all that kinda stuff. It's just that we was still dealing with that stupid old black and white mess. America needs to get rid of that color barrier, because it is a cancer that's inside us in this country.

D: If you could talk to anyone in the world who would you talk to, and what would you talk about?

B: I'd talk about trying to straighten out these kids and stop all of this violence. I'd start kicking some butts and get rid of those words "juvenile delinquent". That's a bad word. It tells kids, "Oh, I can fuck up until I'm 17." And I tell you, a cat 15, 16 years old can impregnate a woman. He's just as bad as I am a grown man. He just can't lift what I can, ya' dig? So, the minute that dude can start shooting live bullets, it's time to get rid of that "juvenile" shit.

D: So, you would talk about this with as many people as possible?

B: I talk about it all the time, man, because it's scary. Take me. If I went out in the streets and two or three of them little dudes out there jumped me and I hurt one of them, why they gonna put me in jail? And that's exactly what you're facing. Bust one of them up, and you might as well go pack up, 'cause you 'bout to take a trip. Women ain't safe walking the streets. Schools ain't safe. Kids are just doing a lot of uncalled for crap, man, and they need to be taught. It needs to start in the home.

D: Don't you think that stuff has always existed, though?

B: Yeah. But it was kinda scattered. Now it's right in your face. Ya know, man, when the teacher said, "Ellas, bring your mother up to school with you in the morning," that was bad news. Today, kids don't give a shit. "My momma ain't coming up here!" You know, "You can tell my momma! She ain't gonna do nothing!" And they're telling the truth.

D: Besides playing kick-ass blues music, what do you do?

B: Well, I sit around and fiddle and faddle with old cars. I got myself a '69 Cadillac hearse that's purple and beautiful, a '50 Cadillac, a '58 Mercury, and a '57 Lincoln. The Mercury and the Lincoln are both stretched. The Mercury's got eight doors. People ain't never seen nothing look like it. They say, "What the hell is that?"

D: What in your life has changed for the better?

B: I'm happy. I'm okay. I've got a nice family. My wife's okay. Being happy, man. Ya' know, for a while I was a miserable son of a bitch. Then I married Sylvia; she's alright and keeps me smiling.

D: When you refer to Bo Diddley in songs, do you feel as if you are making an icon or hero out of your own persona?

B: Naw. Just the way I write. Bo Diddley is the secular thing, the Lone Ranger. It's easy for me to say in my songs. Very easy to say, you know. Bo Diddley is a mighty legend.

D: Who do you look up to in music or otherwise?

B: Nobody.

D: Do dogs have lips?

B: I think a dog's got lips. Got teeth just like anybody else. And a rooster got teeth, too. (laughs)

D: Mike Tyson or Muhammad Ali?

B: I like both of them. Both of them are awesome people. Ali is a good friend of mine. I don't know Mike. I've never met him, but Mike's an awesome dude. He's just got a few little jive problems that everybody's got.

D: Do groupies still come around askin' for Bo's Diddley?

B: I ain't into that shit no more. I got a wife at home. I got this line: "I know you think you got me hooked, but you'll never get your name on my checkbook." See, 'cause I don't get involved in that shit.

D: What did you have for dinner tonight?

B: Pork chops.

D: Were they good?

B: Damn right they was good. I'm about to go get the rest of 'em.

PURCHASE ITEMS BY BO DIDDLEY


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