07 Oct 1986
While in the Air Force during the 1940s, he joined the Tennessee Haymakers, a country band comprised of service personnel, who played off-duty gigs around Washington. Dean continued to play in the area after his discharge in 1948. Impresario Connie B Gay hired Dean and his band the Texas Wildcats to play on radio station WARL, Arlington, which led to a very popular country music TV show on WMAL, concert appearances, and ultimately to his own CBS Network show. In 1961 Dean was the writer and performer of “Big Bad John,” a two million-selling disc. Dean had a run of top 20 hits on CBS Records such as PT109, Dear Ivan, Cajun Queen. Dean switched to RCA Records in 1966 and continued his string of country-pop hit records.
By any yardstick, Bo Diddley ranks as one of the giants of rock ‘n’ roll. He wrote and performed some of the standards of rock’s gestation period. In the mid-1950s, Diddley had the first of his many hits using a take-off of his name for the lyric. “Bo Diddley” became one of the major hits of 1955 in both R&B; and rock and established him as a major star. His recordings were strongly plugged by the king of rock disc jockeys, Alan Freed, and Bo soon had a national following. Diddley was among the first to explore the potential of a purely electric sound, and he experimented with a variety of custom-made guitars, his favorites being distinctively square or oblong. His music was always powerfully charged, with a hypnotic and pounding rhythm. He introduced one of the most basic and famous riffs in rock music. His appearances and recordings had a marked effect on many English pop musicians, as seen from their tributes to him. The Yardbirds, for example, revived his “I’m a Man” and made it once again a best seller; the Rolling Stones did the same with “Mona;” and Eric Burdon and the Animals recorded “The Story of Bo Diddley.”
Content courtesy of Washington Area Music Association.
Featured image photo credit: Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer