08 January 2011

The Jams

In a chain of emails between friends, I had the pleasure of being reminded of a moment of greatness in music history that I hadn't given much thought to in a long while. Lucky me, and now lucky you. I watched it half a dozen times last night, three more just pulling it back up to write this. It's that good.

 Of particular note: the tuxedos; the back up girls, particularly the palms up move at the beginning of this jam; the "slide" and the "quakin' legs" at about 2:20; the black girls in the balcony at 3:10. Sadly, I also noticed that all the black audience members appear to be in the balcony. A blasphemy, really. Those girls should have been front row center. Let's not forget that 1964 wasn't all nice clothes and cocktails.

Sure, it may be a generally accepted fact that Bo Diddley is nothing short of a god in the world of rock n' roll, but when's the last time you thought about that? I've had a life long love of music, and seeing this performance nearly brought me to tears. The guy belts it out like he doesn't even need a mic, the music comes at you hard, like a steam roller, with nothing but some small amps and a drum kit, no high tech gear, just the bare minimum equipment to act as a vehicle for what these guys and girls spill out from their hearts and bellies. Best of all, it's only one chord. Proof positive that guts and raw talent will get you further than needless complexity. A good rule for life, I think.

Since this is a clothing blog,  allow me to point out that this also serves as a further argument for the fact that any man looks good in a suit that fits. Bo ain't a small guy, but his jacket hugs his frame just so, he shows a good half inch of shirt cuff, and how about those pants? Narrow cut and high water, but not tight. Who says big dudes need to wear clothes that fit like drapes? People who don't get it, that's who. The bass player is a skinny guy, who looks equally good in a matching outfit, because his suit fits him equally well. I've said it a million times but it bears repeating: find a good tailor and get to know him. It's hard to tell, but I bet those jackets were tartan with black satin faced lapels. Bo was known for that.

Goddammit, Bo Diddley:

Once again for good measure:

Dr. Jive, honestly.

I played the drums in a lot of bands in the old days, and the styles of music my projects have touched on has varied a bit. But seeing these videos makes me realize that every band I was in, no matter what we played, every time we performed, this is what I imagined, or at least hoped, we were getting at.


Tyrone MacStiophain said...

Hell yes!
I didn't realize he was such a sharp dresser. But his custom guitars tell you that he knew a thing or two about style. I love the shape of that thing. And who was that woman playing the other guitar?

My mom used to see Bo Diddley play in East Texas when she was a girl, and I was jealous that she was there for some of the beginnings of rock and roll. Only thing that I have that comes close was living in Seattle from 1988-now.
Thanks for the blog, and for this post.

Steven said...

I don't know if you'd be willing to give up this secret but since you talk about tailors, and I'm pretty sure we live in the same area, where do you/who do you like to do your tailoring?

michael said...

Love some Bo Diddley. Evidently in that 1955 clip he pissed Ed Sullivan off by not playing the song Ed wanted and by playing "Bo Diddley" instead. Not sure if that is the first instance of someone pissing Ed off in that way, but certainly not the last if you think of the Doors and the Stones Ed Sullivan performances. Kind of a side note, but Elvis seems to be the Ralph Lauren of the early rock and roll world, especially when you see Bo dance around.

Giuseppe said...


God love Elvis, but, yeah, you're right. The dancing, the songs, even to some extent his clothes, were all neisted from the black folks that came before him. Still, Elivs is Elvis and it's to hard o argue with that kind of talent.


Mr. Lee, at Chris Fine tailors, on Broadway in Teele Square. Good, fast and cheap. Perfect.

Jho78 said...

I was reading the paper during my lunch break a few years back when I noticed an article stating that Bo Diddley was performing in a park downtown that evening. I was very excited to go... until I realized I had been reading the previous day's paper. So close, yet so far away.

Thad said...

The current National Portrait Gallery photo exhibit on Elvis actually points out that Elvis purchased his clothing for a store that sold predominately to the African-American community in Memphis.


Theo said...

ah, SO good! banal-ish comment, but Diddley is just so up there I had to express myself!

LLP said...

I appreciated how you respectfully stated the fact that our past includes more than finely tailored clothing. A few too many blogs of the "Trad" -- or whatever one calls tailored clothing -- ilk forget that so-called "golden ages" of the past are largely myths. The arcane language, the images of dress from the 30s,... all have their uses. But you have done a nice job to balance the past & present in style.