Ladies first. Lady Bo, one of rock ‘n’ rolls first female guitar heroes died in September aged 75.
Born Peggy Jones into a musical family she became famous playing for Bo Diddley on “Hey Bo Diddley”, “Road Runner” and “Mona“, among others. Previously only Sister Rosetta Thorpe and Memphis Minnie had achieved fame as female guitarists.
Sometimes called “the Queen Mother of the Electric Guitar” she was also a singer (who had a four octave range by the age of 9), songwriter, band leader and session musician. She joined Bo Diddley when she was 16 after meeting him at the Apollo theatre in Harlem. She said “I ran into him outside when he was on a break. He probably never saw a girl carrying a guitar down the street before and wanted to know if I played it. I said Yeah, why? Who are you?”
He asked her backstage for an impromptu audition after which she joined his band. (Jody Williams, Diddley’s previous guitarist had been drafted). She knew everything he did. “Every move I make” Diddley said. She left him in 1962 to lead her own band The Jewels (she had previously been a member of a doo-wop band the Bop Chords) who had a hit single in 1966 called “We got togetherness“.
She rejoined Diddley in 1970 with other members of her band who were then called the Family Jewel. It was at their first reunion concert at the Fillimore West concert inSan Francisco that the fans started calling her Lady Bo.
She stayed with Diddley, alongside her husband Wally Malone who played bass, until 1993. She recorded with Eric Burdon on “San Francisco Nights” and also played with James Brown and Sam & Dave. She continued playing with her band Lady Bo and the BC Horns alongside her husband on bass into her seventies.
Here’s a YouTube of her playing (a guitar synthesiser no less) with Bo Diddley on “You’re Crackin’ Up”
Next up: Allen Toussaint also died last year in November aged 77.