YOU DON’T KNOW DIDDLEY Seventy-four-year-old Bo Diddley, whose innovative rhythms have inspired generations of rockers, will be performing December 27 at Gilley’s in Dallas.
What are you doing these days?
I’m working. Doing my good old clean rock and roll. I’m putting together this song now with one of my granddaughters called “Leave.” It’s written for a woman to sing, but I’m gonna do a country version and a rock and roll version, a blues version and a spiritual version.
Sounds like you’re busy.
Oh, yeah. I’m active. I’m trying to do something that kind of turns people around a little bit and gets them back to music. Because, you know, we’ve lost our music touch.
Why do you say that?
Well, because there’s no music in the rap songs, most of ‘em. There’s just a drumbeat and a guy making up his own melody and stuff. It’s just different, which is okay. Every generation’s got its own little tricks, you know, so I can understand it, and I respect the rap artists. The only thing that I have against them is, I don’t like their dirty lyrics. Kids don’t need to listen to that.
That can get old.
At first, I didn’t pay too much attention to it. But after it really got going … You know, we went for years trying to clean everything up. And then all of a sudden a lot of dirty lyrics came back. They should know better if they’ve got children or want to have children—they don’t want their kids listening to four-letter words. I just think that it’s wrong that they’re doing that, because if they’re good, they can make good songs without using dirty lyrics.
Whom do you like to listen to nowadays?
I listen to a lot of old guys, and young ones too—some of the rap players. I like a lot of rap. Because I was the first that did rap, and I can rap a little bit myself, at my age. They think that old folks can’t rap. That’s bull; my mother taught me how to rap. See, but she didn’t use the bad words.
So when you’re at the grocery store or out and about and you hear the Bo Diddley beat, say, on the radio—
I get very upset, because I’m not getting paid for it! And I’m really fixin’ to rattle somebody’s cage, because rap music has a drumbeat, and somebody’s claiming copyrights on that old composition. They said a beat can’t be copyrighted, and that’s a lie, because it can be written. If it can be written, it can be copyrighted.
Do you feel like you should be onstage when you hear it?
No, no. This is a money thing, just like your job.
Have you ever been tempted to throw in the towel?
No, no, no. I got too many fans. I love all my fans all over the world. You know, they love me and I love them. See, it’s a different kind of love, when you say, “I love them.” It’s the love for another human being, you understand.
(See Dallas: Music/Dance)