Bo Diddley is about the coolest dude I ever booked or worked with. The first time he played the FBF he was a last minute add-on. In the area and interested in picking up a few bucks. I believe we paid Bo 1K and the agent 1k. Bo never advanced the show at all. We had been told by the agent that he was “cranky”, would only play 45 minutes with no encore, would not sign anything unless paid, and that we had better get a real good band to back him up.
He was a delight. Got to the stage himself. Had heard of Tim Kihatsu, whose Rat Band backed him up. Bo played over 75 minutes. During the encore he went back and edged the drummer out of his chair, and took over the drums for another 30 minutes. Brilliant thing was that the songs were really, really old Chicago classics, that I had never heard before, the crowd had never heard before, and Tim’s band had definitely never heard before. Bo signed everything, no hassles, got the Rat Band’s number, shook hands around, and disappeared with his cash.
The second time he graced our stage, he got paid a lot more money, but was every bit as cool. He brought along the brilliant Jon Paris, a great blues/rock guitarist from NYC. Bo played all his own s**t though. His lady manager was the keyboard player, and she and the bandleader/bassist had something they wanted to do in San Francisco (I think). Their roadie approached me just before the third act started, asking if Bo could go before Tommy Castro, because the show was “moving so slow”. That was a FIRST for me! No one had ever dared to try to change the order of one of my shows in over 30 years doin’ this. I told him the order would stay exactly the same and if we had any problems, I’d put Tommy on for two sets, pay Tommy Bo’s money, and try to sue to get my money back from Bo’s deposit (admittedly hard to do in New York state). Never heard any more about it. Bo had a special rider, in that he asked for 25 festival t-shirts, in varying sizes, to be in his dressing room, when he arrived. That was also completely new to me, and, of course, I had ‘em when I welcomed him to his dressing area. I had to ask, though, “Why 25 of these, Mr. Diddley? I mean they are pretty good but…”. He looked at me from a long way off, and said “I’ve got 19 grandchildren, man.” Nuff said. Coolest dude you ever met. Really friendly. Went out and sat on the bench by the bag check and pat down site, and signed, and shook hands, and laughed, and signed. Benny Mendez (RIP) said that he was dead certain at one point that Bo was gonna search a few backpacks and ice-chests. Did I mention that he was the coolest of guys?