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June 5, 2008
Charlie knew Diddley


Well, more like Charlie McGimsey knew what it was like to play with Bo Diddley, the rock 'n' roll pioneer who passed away Monday. The local drummer played back-up for Diddley at a gig at Folsom's Powerhouse Pub. You see, Diddley didn't usually play with a touring band in his later years. To cut costs while on the road, Diddley would hire local musicians for one-off shows. They tended to feel like "by the seat of your pants" gigs for the musicians, but it was still a doozy to play with a living rock 'n' roll legend like Diddley.

Here's McGimsey's story about playing with Diddley:

"In January 2004 I was playing in the Sunday night jam band, Probable Cause, at the Powerhouse Pub. Bo Diddley was booked to play on Jan. 4, and we were asked to be Bo's backup band for the gig. We didn't have enough time to practice with him, so we decided to learn some of his well-known songs such as "Mona," "Can't Judge a Book by its Cover," and "Who Do You Love." Friday afternoon Bo showed up and opened a guitar case - and there it was - the famous square guitar. We set up and played the first set, then Bo came back at 8 p.m. to start his show. He played from 8 p.m. 'til 10:45 p.m. straight through with no breaks.

He just called out the songs and we had to follow along. Being a drummer, it was much easier than a guitar player. I didn't need to know the chords to the songs, just the beats. The only thing he said to me all night was when he turned around and said, "Four on the floor," which means (in drum language) eighth-notes on the bass drum. It was a wonderful experience for me - he was very nice and I was very tired. It was the longest set I've ever played without a break. It was an honor to play with him. I will never for get that night."

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