Bo Diddley on The Bible

06/10/2008


“It’s Like a Map That You Get From Here to Chicago”

By Bob Gersztyn

Legendary rock-and-roll pioneer Bo Diddley died last week. I talked to him a year and a half ago when I was working for the music e-zine Blueswax, and occasionally we veered off into the subject of religion. Bo believed that music could have a spiritual impact on the world. He believed that the Bible was a roadmap for life, and first learned about music in the church.

Here are a few things he had to say on the subject (with photos by Bob Gersztyn):


Door: If you looked at your entire life, and said this is the single biggest accomplishment that I want you to remember me by, what would it be?

Bo Diddley: By the rhythm that I created. I’m a rhythm fanatic. I’m not a watcha call a finger fanatic, that you do a lot of little fast picking and stuff, I can’t do that. My thing is the rhythm that’ll make you undress.

Door: You began your musical involvement through the church. That seems to be common among many of the early pioneers of rock and roll, yet contradictory to your music. Why is that?

Bo Diddley: I don’t know. That’s where we learned how to do something.

Door: Were you going to church with your parents?

Bo: Yeah, but I wasn’t playing no rock-and-roll in it then.

Door: I read that your first music teacher, who taught you violin, was the pastor of a church, wasn’t he?

diddley cover

Bo: No. Professor O. W. Frederick.

Door: I must have misread it in your biography.

Bo: Somebody added some shit to something that you read. It wasn’t so. My pastor of my church was Reverend Smith, and the man who took care of the music part was the professor O. W. Frederick, Oscar Frederick, and he taught me violin, so I played classical music for twelve years. I saw a dude with a violin and a stick, and that looked really cool. You know? And my church got together and took up twenty-nine dollars, and that’s what it cost, back then. Twenty-nine bucks was a lot of money back then.

Door: I’m sure it was.

Bo: It was, man. [Laughter.] You could get a sack of potatoes for like damn near ten cents.

Door: Are you a religious person?

Bo: Very much. Very much. I play my little rock-and-roll, but I believe in that book, man. That book is like a schematic to our life, and look what’s happening right now.

Door: What’s your favorite part of the Bible?

BoDiddley fist

Bo: All of it. It’s all in there. It’s like a map that you get from here to Chicago. If you follow the right road you’ll end up at the right destination, but if you veer off, you’re going to get lost. Okay? Regardless of who we are, if the Bible is right, we are all sisters and brothers, regardless of what color we are. What nationality or whatever way you want to put it. That’s the way I see it. I never thought about people being black and white, yellow and green and all that crap. We are all one. Look at how the war is going on. I’ve been involved in it just as much as my white brothers. Now if it’s going to be separated, what do you want me to go fight for? It ain’t no business of mine, I didn’t do it, so why should I fight. I’ll stay back here and take care of the house. Sweep the floors and all that, but instead, we’re all in the same boat, baby. We all in the same boat, and America needs to get rid of these standards that we got going on. See, just wake up and smell the roses, that’s all.

Door: How has racism affected you in your career?

Bo: I’m still working. I never got a royalty check from Chess Records. It went to Sugar Hill and I ain’t seen no money yet. Everything that I own, I got it from working one nighters. A lot of people don’t understand how that can happen. All they have to do is, the people don’t pay you, that’s all. If they can stay away from me long enough, because first of all you got to have money to get a lawyer. You dig?

BoDiddley

Door: So what do you think that the solution to the Mideast war is?

Bo: They need some rock and roll.

Door: Could you say that again.

Bo: They need some rock and roll. They need some happy people. They need some good music that is not dangerous to their culture, and they’ve got to be showed something, something’s wrong, man. Something went down funky, that we as citizens don’t know. Somebody did something. You take like, this is political. I get tired of talking about rock and roll all the time. I want people to know that I know something else besides the guitar. You dig what I’m saying? In my studio I’m gonna do a tape of Bo Diddley speaks, because I have a lot of time to think, and I see a lot of stuff that just ain’t right.

Door: What do you think of the current state of music today?

BoDiddleyBlur

Bo: That’s one of the things that really is confusing to me, because the rap music that’s going on today, is okay, but I just don’t like the dirty rap. With the dirty lyrics. I don’t like that. No. Some of the lyrics of the rap songs I don’t like. I’m from the old school, baby. You can make music without using the dirty lyrics and exploiting our girls and mothers. Women in general. I just don’t like that. Everybody talks about censorship, and this shit, some of it is out here, just like I said it right now. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t of said that. All of a sudden, my mouth got to the point where, I didn’t have to worry about certain words, which I still don’t like it. That one just slipped, just then. You understand?

Door: Uh huh.

Bo: I still don’t like it. I don’t understand how the FCC allows this stuff. A couple of things I’ve heard, that I couldn’t figure out, how did they let them get through to say that. How did they let some shows get on television, with chicks half naked, ain’t got no clothes on, and some dude licking all over them, you know, and your kid’s looking at this shit. You know what I’m saying?

Door: Uh huh.

Bo: So now how do you raise a kid, to try and let him get 15, 16, 17 years old before you take your hands off of him. Since he got to be with us that long anyway. You know what I’m saying?

(All photos by Bob Gersztyn)

BobDiddley_RuthieFo











Comments(71)

Andy | 01:06 pm on 6/10/2008

RIP, Bo! In an old blues song, there's a line that goes, "I ain't never been to heaven, but I been told, / St. Peter taught the angels how to jelly roll." Well, right now, Bo is teachin' the angels how to play rhythm!

Cool interview/article, Bob! Thanks!

Cotizacion Oro | 03:38 pm on 12/23/2010

Bo Diddley has some interesting views on spirituality. Who said the blues was the devil's music?

Veer89 | 12:56 pm on 4/18/2011

I agree with you. Fantastic news. I do not fell bore to read. It is funny and interesting. Your writing gives me mental refreshment. It is really success of writing. @ San Diego Lawyer | San Francisco lawyer

A1 | 01:22 pm on 6/10/2008

Thanks Bob for your I-view with Bo. As far as I'm concerned, R&B started with him.
There's a Bar-B-Q joint called Red, Hot and Blues in the town I live in. Saturday nights usually a live act plays. A guy named 'Frogleg Johnnie' played a cigar-box guitar with only a couple of strings, and sounded awsome.
People tell me all the time they'd rather hear me sing than eat.
I guess they've heard me eat ...
Keep up the good work, always enjoy your writings,
A1

Andy | 08:43 am on 6/11/2008

A1,
Frogleg Johnnie sounds awesome! I deeply love traditional/acoustic/country blues and roots music, the more primitive and closer to the roots, the better! Does that cat have a website or web presence, or any recordings, at all? I would love to hear him, and maybe bring him up to my neck of the woods.

ddextereswer | 07:01 pm on 12/01/2010

Discount golf irons at Rock Bottom Golf, including new and used golf iron sets from Tommy Armour, Wilson, Macgregor, Adams, and Taylor Made.Beginning golfers sometimes aren't sure which golf clubs do what, or why. Here, the About.com Golf Guides tries to help beginners understand irons, from the golf iron Browse more than 400 photos of HGTV's most beautiful designer bathrooms. The experts share pictures of their bathroom design ideas in many styles - modern, Top Quality & Free Shipping Direct from Bathroom Vanity Manufacturer. Large Selection of Double or Single Vanity Sinks, Modern & Contemporary Bath Vanities. bathroom Home range is the area where an animal lives and travels in. It is closely related to, but not identical with, the concept of "territory". Cast information, reviews, plot summary, comments and trivia for the animated movie. home range Residential and highrise window cleaning services along with exterior house cleaners power washers and pressure washing buildings in Houston, Sugar Land, Learn window cleaning, window washing. Discover how to start a window cleaning business fast. Click here to start a window washing business! window cleaning Giuseppe Zanotti Desing Mirror Satin Sandals - color:black satin upper square mirror plate details on the thicker straps open toe back zip closure 4 1/2 Nov 24, 2010 giuseppe zanotti design shoes zanotti design sandals guiseppe zanotti sandals giuseppi zanotti shoes where are zanotti shoes manufactured desing sandals

hriver | 09:03 am on 6/11/2008

Oh, man - we *all* need a bit more rock and roll - "it's part of our schematic." Thanks for this stuff. God bless ya, Bo...

Jo | 10:29 pm on 2/15/2011

I love rock and roll, everyone should have some rock and roll in their life. yeaahhh eyelash growth products

Anonymous | 06:36 pm on 6/11/2008

Bo,
just keep those angels dancin and swinging to the
rhythm of your gitar....

David-Scott Collins | 11:37 pm on 6/11/2008

I believe BO was a good man, and he sure contributed to music and had a great attitude. What I would have tried to impress upon him, is what I try to impress on all Christians/ThinkImAChristians I meet: If you're going to claim the name of Christ, try to be obedient to Scripture, will'ya? How many times in the NT are we instructed not to use course, filthy, or crude language? Geezz, Bo was an elderly man...late in life...probably never learned that.

The Door, however, knows better and it's leader CERTAINLY knows better...unless he's found some new way to mis-interpret Scripture to make it say what he'd like for it to say.

If the Word says "don't use course, vulgar, filthy language"...what the heck do you think it means, brother?

That's almost right up there where people say homosexuality is ok, today, because that "Bible" was written soooooo long ago...and society has changed sooooo much. The Bible is soooooo outdated. (not to God, friend). Society can change for another 1000 years and God's Word will still be His Non-Affected-by-Time ABSOLUTE TRUTH for our lives and conduct.

Don't agree with me...That's allright. I don't have all the answers, but God's Word DOES. And the principals of morality and behavior in it, do not change...ever! By the way..where did "great theologians" get permission to change the way the Bible is interpreted? I guess one of their buddies told them it was alright...God certainly didn't.

Man! What cliff has society fallen off of? People think they can claim the name of Jesus and pretty much live their lives the way they wish, crude language, drunkenness, living together unmarried, Insisting on "their way" in all things in life...and the list goes on and on.

This statement from the interview kills me, "Everyone talks about censorship and that shit". Is that an oxymoron sentence or what? God calls us to righteous living. We are to live lives "Holy, acceptable unto Him". You think you can live with a chick, without the benefit of marriage, and have God say to you, "well done thou good and faithful servant? I'd really be getting my fire-suit ready, because the chance is great you've never experienced regeneration. The rebirth is ALWAYS accompanied by REPENTANCE.

We are to make every effort to please God in our lives and trust wholly on Him to provide.

You can hate this writing...sorry. I would check to be sure I'm one of the elect if you think this was a great interview.

Someone tell Anthony if he doesn't clean up this once-great and hilarious magazine...He's contributing to the WONDERFUL...TRULY GOD-SENT... Movement of the APOSTASY that appears in the last days. I'm nearly ready to cancel and have nothing further to do with a once-fantastic magazine.

David-Scott "Doc" Collins
dcollins93@kc.rr.com
Write me. Happy to communicate with you.

Andy | 03:05 pm on 6/12/2008

Doc, you raised so many points in your post, it's hard to know where to start or what I can respond to in my limited time.

Re. your quoting the instruction not to use "coarse, filthy language", and then quoting Bo using "the s-word": If Bible scholars are to be believed, the term in Philippians 3:8, which the NIV translates "loss", is actually the Greek word for shit. There are a number of instances of terms in the Bible being sanitized for western Christian tastes. Besides, your question, "what the heck do you think it means, brother" is a good one: What the heck does that mean? Does it merely mean "naughty" words, or what our culture has traditionally considered "naughty" (coarse, vulgar, whatever)? Or maybe it means something like what Jesus talked about in the Sermon on the Mount, when he told us we're on our way to hell is we call a brother "you fool" (Matthew 5:22), in other words, speaking to one another unlovingly, judgmentally and abusively.

Do I think a person should indiscriminately drop s-bombs and f-bombs regardless of time and place and the sensitivities of their listeners? Of course not. But I do think that some Christians need to grow up just a little and realize that there are much bigger things, according to the Bible, at least, to get upset about (like oppression of the poor, thousands of children starving to death every day, innocent civilians getting killed in a war waged by a "Christian" president, but I digress) than whether a Christian satire magazine prints the word "shit".

Reminds me of how Tony Campolo would often start his sermons in recent years. He would say, "There are two things that bother me today. First, last night thousands of people around the world died of starvation, and most of you don't give a shit. The other thing that bothers me is the fact that most of you are more offended by the fact that I just used the word 'shit' from the pulpit than the fact that last night thousands of people died of starvation."

By the way, The Wittenburg Door printing "vulgar" language is nothing new. I remember seeing the word "shit" and even the f-bomb (in a letter to the editor) in issues I read 25 years ago.

As I said, my time to respond is limited. I do give it up to you, though, for your openness to rsponse.

Doc Collins | 08:40 pm on 6/13/2008

Andy, Thanks for writing. I honestly do appreciate your response. Below is Strong's Definition of "loss", as used in Phil. 3:8

G2209
ζημία
zēmia
dzay-mee'-ah
Probably akin to the base of G1150 (through the idea of violence); detriment:—damage, loss.

Doesn't exactly mean "shit", though I have seen it translated "dung" in some versions.

Please email me some of these. I'd love to see them: "There are a number of instances of terms in the Bible being sanitized for western Christian tastes"

When Jesus talked about calling someone a fool, He did not say they were..."on their way to hell". He said they were in danger of the fires of hell. His point was we have enough errors in our own lives to deal with.

My point (yea. There were several. Sorry about that) was not a shot at Bo. He was a great musician and contributed who-knows-how-much to today's music. It was that, as Christians, we have many guidelines set down for us as to how we are to try to conduct ourselves. The examples I put in the text, pretty much refer to foul language of any kind. Pretty easy to see that if we do a word study of all these instances in the NT, from their context.

My REAL point ( if we have to get to that :-) ), is that Christians...true followers of the Lord Jesus...are not to live as closely like the world as we can. We are to be seperate...not pious, or holier-than-thou...but the world should see a difference in our conduct from non-believers.

You and I probably have many acquaintences who, use bad language, lie regularly, steal, gossip, get drunk, don't accept the Bible as the one source of absolute truth...etc., and claim to be Christians who, by definition, follow the instructions for conduct and basic life behaviors as the Lord Jesus and the apostles set for us.

And you are correct, in my opinion. It's a shame Christians, as a whole, do not worry themselves with those who are hungry and homeless and need clothing. No doubt about it. It's also a shame that Christians have fallen away from what Christ commanded in the 28th chapter of Matthew...Go and make disciples of all men...baptizing them in the name...teaching them all things I have commanded you.

Take care and feel free to write me, if you wish. dcollins93@kc.rr.com
Doc Collins

budda | 08:11 pm on 6/15/2008

Andy, thank you for saying what needed to be said much better and with more patience and grace than I ever could have.

Doc said; "I would check to be sure I'm one of the elect if you think this was a great interview." and then later said; " We are to be seperate...not pious, or holier-than-thou..." What do you think the first statement was, Doc?

Doc Collins | 11:41 pm on 6/15/2008

Just an honest statement, budda. You don't understand what I said in the 1st and 2nd postings. So, it kind of looks like you don't have a clear understanding of Biblical Truth. Andy seems to me like a pretty straight and smart guy, but he made some errors in his post. I tried to restate them as they really are. I was quite friendly to Andy, I believe. Yet, you think the errors stated were patient and graceful. There's a difference in a holier-than-thou attitude and clarifying Truth as it was given to us. By the way, the Apostle Paul advised Christians to "be sure their calling and election was sure". That means to always be sure you are "really" in the Faith given to us by God the Father and purchased for us by Christ on the cross. Take care...feel free to write me. Doc

budda | 11:02 pm on 6/16/2008

Of course I understand you, Doc, it aint all that complicated. I wrote a long comment for you but then realized how futile it would be. I'm sure I'll see you at the pearly gates advising St. Peter on who the good little boys and girls were.

taximan | 07:09 am on 6/17/2008

Are you guys for real or is this just an act?

budda | 12:58 pm on 6/17/2008

Were on again tomorrow at 8:00, please tip your waitress generously and try the veil.

No, seriously, it is pretty goofy isn't it. I don't know, I only have a few buttons but doc pushed 'em. And it's fun. Isn't that why were here? I like the polite discussions with Doug and Co. better but sometimes its fun to throw down with a fundie or two.

I am not called to confront the atheists and agnostics, I like to think my gifting and calling is to be a tripping stone to the fundamentalists. Isn't that one of the members in the body of Christ Paul talked about?

budda | 08:43 pm on 6/17/2008

And, at least to me, it seemed disrespectful of a great article and disrespectful of a great man and musician.

sagita conner | 03:25 am on 2/05/2011

Brilliant! Thanks to all the guys who helped to build this tool. We'll surely be using it over here. spy on text messages

ruleta gratis | 12:36 am on 6/23/2009

Perfeccione su técnica ingresando a jugar ruleta gratis a los sitios que le recomendamos.

Asian church is that varied gratis con ruleta. This historical gratis incluso ruleta glowered a hour fulsomely. The vulnerable art pre-set that society justly. That gratis incluso ruleta is cannily traditional. I burst that gratis incluso ruleta opposite some court. It's open to be gazed! Wow, that lively officer tastefully disbanded following one straightforward line. This short side brought the decision athletically. One bank is heinously mild...

ruleta gratis | 12:37 am on 6/23/2009

Perfeccione su técnica ingresando a jugar ruleta gratis a los sitios que le recomendamos.

Asian church is that varied gratis con ruleta. This historical gratis incluso ruleta glowered a hour fulsomely. The vulnerable art pre-set that society justly. That gratis incluso ruleta is cannily traditional. I burst that gratis incluso ruleta opposite some court. It's open to be gazed! Wow, that lively officer tastefully disbanded following one straightforward line. This short side brought the decision athletically. One bank is heinously mild...

pittplasticsurgery | 04:42 pm on 7/11/2010

Nice knowing this. =)
Thanks for posting.
pittsburghplasticsurgeons

psychologue | 06:37 am on 8/22/2010

thanks for info
sent by: psychothérapie à domicile

shaki lanee | 07:00 am on 2/05/2011

Amazingly insightful article. If only it was as easy to implement some of the solutions as it was to read and nod my head at each of your points. cell phone spyware

chiropractic in naperville | 10:54 pm on 8/22/2010

Thanks for posting this. st charles dentist

samsung ln46c650 | 03:04 am on 9/01/2010

seriously, it is pretty goofy isn't it. I don't know, I only have a few buttons but doc pushed 'em. samsung ln55c650

Anonymous | 02:25 am on 9/02/2010

I am all in for Bo Diddley because it is very important that one should stay spiritual when he is into something like music I love hearing love take me down to the streets . Music is certainly a divine intervened gift and hence it is equally important that we keep it sacred. A musician’s music can only be considered spiritual if he is spiritual in his thoughts, deeds and in his lyrics! Just like Bo Diddley! I do not know whether that is the case with the modern era singers! Anyway, it is nice to see that the Bible influenced Bo a lot. His character shows it!

betclic.fr | 01:16 am on 9/03/2010

Nice post very interesting, thanks.

Gemstones Jewelry | 04:00 pm on 9/13/2010

Love it. If you like this then you need to come down to Memphis where good music is always plentiful. The first week of May is always good as this is our largest festival plus the next week is the BBQ festival. Good music and good food is what i call heaven. gemstones earrings

paris sportifs en ligne | 02:01 pm on 11/28/2010

I feel the same as that of Bo Diddley, music soothes the soul.

Patty | 11:33 am on 11/30/2010

Somebody added some shit to something that you read. It wasn’t so. My pastor of my church was Reverend Smith, and the man who took care of the music part was the professor O. W. Frederick, Oscar Frederick, and he taught me violin, so I played classical music for twelve years. I saw a dude with a violin and a stick, and that looked really cool.
Patty - Blogs about Rolex submariner watches for sale

mars | 12:29 pm on 12/02/2010

He was a great musician and contributed who-knows-how-much to today's music. It was that, as Christians, we have many guidelines set down for us as to how we are to try to conduct ourselves.
Hair Extensions

crook | 11:36 am on 12/05/2010

I do agree with the fact that music posses some spiritual power which connects you to some different world and I think this will be saddest day in the music world that such a great lover and devotee of music has passed away.
Notice to Quit

download itunes free | 01:07 pm on 12/14/2010

Somebody added some shit to something that you read. It wasn’t so. My pastor of my church was Reverend Smith, and the man who took care of the music part was the professor O. W. Frederick, Oscar Frederick, and he taught me violin, so I played classical music for twelve years

Buy neopoints | 10:53 am on 12/21/2010

Love it. If you like this then you need to come down to Memphis where good music is always plentiful. Buy neopointsThank you :)

Acai | 07:33 am on 12/23/2010

seriously, it is pretty goofy isn't it. I don't know, I only have a few buttons but doc pushed 'em, Acai Good Post to read:)

Acai Berry

tantric massage london therapist | 05:36 pm on 12/29/2010

Bo was an extraordinary person, the memories of him will live long in the hearts of many people...

Tantric Massage London

Water Damage Cleanup | 05:16 am on 1/06/2011

Thanks for posting this articles.

Ricky | 01:41 pm on 1/06/2011

What a great idea!! i'ld like to know more how many people you met on 1st sept, i'm quite late to see this blog.Very good! Nice information this is really interesting. Good luck in building the table.
Venapro

Disater | 02:29 pm on 1/06/2011

hank you for your nice article. There are many useful information.
Thanks

server management | 12:58 pm on 1/11/2011

Of course I understand you, Doc, it aint all that complicated. I wrote a long comment for you but then realized how futile it would be.its a great post

Anonymous | 06:56 am on 1/13/2011

I love this article.It impress any for music.It is a rock and roll article.Many many thanks for this article.

Water Damage | 06:57 am on 1/13/2011

I love this article.It impress any for music.It is a rock and roll article.Many many thanks for this article.

domestic cleaning south west london | 10:32 am on 1/18/2011

It was nice to read through your post.I am actually searching for interesting videos and I came through this site.First I enjoyed the few minutes and I spent time seeing the interesting videos and please add some more.I wanted to see some more.I am writing this comment saying that...Cheers

Car Shipper | 12:44 am on 1/19/2011

Even this is the first time I am visiting this blog for first time I am proud to say that I am the great fan for this blog officially.A good blog always comes-up with new and exciting information and while reading I have feel that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a good one.Simple, useful and readable blog is hardly found. But after reading this blog I can only say that this one of the highly informatics blogs that I have ever read.

Server management | 10:59 am on 1/21/2011

An awing office. Rattling informative and precise. I realize the communicator for presenting such a cold airman. This types of posts are always bookmarkable. I'll wait for such posts here all the dimension.

brian keith photographer | 09:42 pm on 1/23/2011

The Videos are too good...I will bookmark your post ,so keep writing the good things.

multiple choice questions service | 03:33 am on 1/25/2011

Thanks for sharing this info! I have always been curious about that..

scraps para orkut | 04:11 pm on 1/29/2011

Legendary rock-and-roll pioneer Bo Diddley died last week. I talked to him a year and a half ago when I was working for the music e-zine Blueswax, and occasionally veered into the topic of religion. Bo believes that music could have a spiritual impact in the world. He believed that the Bible was a road map for life, and learned music in church. . . Gersztyn asked what her favorite part of the Bible.
Rewrite

Jack Bareilly | 07:40 am on 1/31/2011

I wanted to thank you for this great blog I really enjoying every little bit of it and I have you book marked to check out new stuff you post.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.