[Bo Diddley interview 3/16/06, tape 1]

Interview with blues musician Bo Diddley.

0:45Copy video clip URL Off-camera interviewer Phil Ranstrom asks Diddley about Maxwell Street. Diddley says he was last there “six or seven years ago,” and that it was then that he noticed a dramatic change. He says that, during its heyday, he would go as much for the hot dogs available at the stands as for the opportunity to play. He laments the disappearance of the Maxwell Street scene, and hopes that Mayor Daley would designate another spot in the city for a similar purpose. He recalls that the area was known as “Jewtown,” due to the frequent practice of bargaining with the various peddlers. He hopes for a return of the “old school” of music, and claims that much of modern music is rooted in the sounds of Maxwell Street.

7:30Copy video clip URL Diddley rhapsodizes over the quality of Maxwell Street hot dogs. He recalls his time as a musician there, along with Roosevelt Jackson and Clifton James; he details how they would use Maxwell Street as a ‘drawing board’ to figure out how to draw an audience to club gigs. He mentions the 708 Club, which would also feature musicians such as Memphis Minnie and Peg Leg Bates. He compares this to modern music, admitting to liking some rap but objecting to its vulgarity. He says that Maxwell Street was free of drug use, but not drunkenness. 

14:15Copy video clip URL Ranstrom asks Diddley what brought him to Maxwell Street. Diddley says that he’d simply heard there was money to be made playing there. Asked about the transition from acoustic to electric blues, Diddley says that acoustic players were able to be heard on the street if they could play well. He laments that Roosevelt Jackson, his bass player, never went on the road with him.

16:15Copy video clip URL Ranstrom asks Diddley to describe the scene. Diddley says that he used his instrument in innovative ways, and owes his inspiration to his lifelong habit of tinkering. He claims to have invented the tremolo, only to later find it mass-produced by a company in Toledo. Ranstrom asks about Little Walter’s use of distortion on his harmonica, and Diddley insists that was merely due to inadequate speakers.

21:10Copy video clip URL Asked about Muddy Waters, Diddley says he initially tried to imitate his style but eventually gave up. He declines to name a single favorite Maxwell musician, and insists that they were all good. He says that Chicago has long been a magnet for blues musicians from all over the Unites States. He compares his experiences with the different regional blues scenes, telling specifically about playing in Denver and Dallas. He still insists that he learned everything he knows in Chicago.

28:30Copy video clip URL Ranstrom begins to ask a question, but is cut off by the technician stopping the tape.



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