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What Bo knows

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 26, 2002
Rich in purpose
The rock pioneer laments an industry that cheated him out of millions. But Bo Diddley, now 73, continues to tour, write songs and enjoy his North Florida home.

Bo Diddley is nothing if not outspoken. Here are his thoughts on some of the big names who caught his attention during his career -- from the Rolling Stones (for whom he opened in 1963) to Bo Jackson (whose "Bo Knows" Nike campaign in the '90s gave the old rocker a visibility boost).

THE ROLLING STONES: "They're the greatest. They always treated me good. Ever since 1962, we been friends. I know them all. They're my buddies."

THE BEATLES: "Didn't know 'em. They weren't rock 'n' roll. I don't know what they were. I been trying to figure it out."

ELVIS PRESLEY: "I'm very upset about the lies told on this last anniversary (of his death), saying he changed the music. I'm the first."

CHUCK BERRY: "That's my friend. He and James Brown. Chuck wrote some great songs and did a lot of innovating, too. We were the first. James is right behind us. Please Please Please."

BO JACKSON: "I know Bo. He's like a big kid, a beautiful dude. He helped me. For anybody who didn't know me that well, all of a sudden they knew me. That woke me up to how much America sleeps. They didn't know me."

BUDDY GUY: "Know him well. Hell of a person. Hell of a musician."

BUDDY HOLLY: "Didn't know him. He appealed to a certain crowd of kids, which during those days, maybe they didn't let them listen to my records because it was classified as black music. But he did, and they turned the radio on. And every time they played him, they heard me. So it was helpful to me."

LITTLE RICHARD: "Great person. And he had more guts than I did. Because he came out and said, 'Pat Boone ripped me off.' Pat Boone didn't really rip him off, he just happened to sing his songs. But the people handling Pat Boone is where the money went. I was a little nervous mentioning names, because they might find your a- in the Hudson River, and I wasn't ready to be there, because I can't swim. Dig?"

GEORGE THOROGOOD: "George is sick. He calls me up at 3 in the morning and says, 'Is Bo home?' I go, 'Yeah, who is this?' And he says, 'It's George, man. What are you doing?' Hey, are you out of your mind -- I'm trying to get some sleep!"

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