Tuesday, June 03, 2008


For a couple of years, at the end of the sixties, I made my living as a poet. A variety of gigs — readings, the sale of chapbooks — underscored by royalties from a book on painting & the money from a poetry prize . Mind you, living was cheaper then; bread & milk probably less than 10 cents each, cigarettes less than 50c, books weren’t that expensive. Plus I shared a low-rent house close to everything, & my regime then was to walk everywhere.

For some months, one of the gigs was a regular Sunday night spot working with the house band — the Claude Papesch trio, comprised of some of the best jazz/rock musicians in New Zealand (Bruno Lawrence on drums, Doug Jerebine (later known as Jesse Harper) or Dave Russell on guitar, the leader on electronic piano) who would otherwise have been “between gigs”) at a local nightclub. Some of the numbers we did were quite intricate & rehearsed, others kept simple — a medium tempo blues in B♭, or “just do it with a Bo Diddley beat.”

The Bo Diddley beat is a kind of rhumba rhythm — One & two & three & four & one & two & three & four & ..... — often pared to its rhythmic essentials rather than relying on chord changes. Probably the best known example of it is the Rolling Stones’ version of the Buddy Holly song Not Fade Away.

Ah, it’s amazing what the mind retains. Hadn’t thought of any of the above for years, until I read today of the death of Bo Diddley.

Vale Bo Diddley, oh Bo Diddley.


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