How To Play the Bo Diddley Beat
The Bo Diddley Beat came from the artist himself, blues legend Bo Diddley (Ellas McDaniel). A good number of his songs incorporated this jungle-like rhythm and helped distinguish his sound through the years. Numerous artists crossing many genres have since patterned their songs after this man and his beat. Though some credit Bo for originating the rhythm, it actually stems from early forms of latin and afro-cuban rhythms (clave) derived from their respective countries. It’s important to note that this rhythm was also used for years as the playful music knock, “Shave and a Haircut”,…”Two Bits”.
How to Play It
Play singles from hand to hand on the floor tom accentuating the clave (top line) below. Bass drum can match the clave or play “4 on the floor” (bottom line). Guitarist and/or bass player will play simultaneous lines so it is important to keep a steady tempo to be in sync with them. Use the afro-cuban son clave below as your foundation. For those that don’t read, it is: 1 (2) and (3) 4 – (1) 2 3 (4). Remember, it’s important to make it swing. In other words, it must feel good!
The 3/2 Son Clave
Magic Carpet Ride – Steppenwolf
She’s the One – Bruce Springsteen
Women are Smarter – Grateful Dead
Gotta Have Faith – George Michael
Willie & the Hand Jive – Johnny Otis Show Grease Soundtrack
Not Fade Away – Buddy Holly, Rolling Stones
I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow, Strangeloves