We’ve had so many great blues records in the shop this summer! Lately we’ve been listening to a lot of Bo Diddley albums which reminded us of this post from about four years back into the Hymies blog archives…
Often a 45 has a lesser-known song from the same album as the hit as it’s flip side, which is sometimes a reward for 45 collectors like ourselves. For instance, we don’t need to own a copy of Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey because the best cut on the album, “Starting a New Life,” is the B side to one of its singles.
Other times they make choice we don’t understand, like putting “Sweet Black Angel” on the backside of “Tumblin’ Dice.” It really should have been “Hip Shake Thing,” because that song really captures the spirit of Exile on Main Street. Plus it’s kickass awesome. WeI would play it every time we play “Tumblin’ Dice.” It’s a great song! (By the way, you can hear it if you click on that link above) Even though its our favorite song on that classic album, we’ve always thought it was a re-make of “Bring it to Jerome” by Bo Diddley.
Guess we could have listened more closely to Exile all these years, or at least read the label before flipping it to side two. “Hip Shake Thing” is credited to James Moore, aka Slim Harpo on the side one label — And in fact, in the middle of the song Mick Jagger sings, “Say, what do you know / There’s Slim Harpo.”
Turns out Harpo was the one doing the borrowing, whether Mick Jagger knew it or not. We’re guessing as a guy who probably listened to a lot of blues 45s he probably did (the Stones are after all great interpreters of blues records from their earliest singles onward). Harpo’s 1966 hit for Excello Records is the song that was based on “Bring it to Jerome.” Slim Harpo’s awesome songs — not all of them based on equally awesome Bo Diddley songs — were also covered by other major white rock acts in the 60s: The Who, the Kinks, the Doors, the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd…
Slim Harpo ran a trucking business on the side. He died tragically young, only 46, following a heart attack, and was buried near the Louisiana town where he grew up.
Bo Diddley, of course, lived a much longer life, and enjoyed a great deal of success as a performer. He also received recognition for his contributions to the creation of rock and roll music. Bo Diddley is sometimes called “The Originator” for his essential role. He was a technical pioneer as well, creating a home studio years before it was the standard for stars — in fact, his home studio was the first place where Marvin Gaye recorded. His “Bo Diddley beat” — dum dum dum, dum dum — appears throughout the history of pop music, including at least twice on London Calling. This is probably why the Clash asked him to open for them when they toured the US to promote that album in 1979.
Bo Diddley also bought and donated three police cars to Valencia County, New Mexico, where he lived and volunteered. After moving to Florida he lived in a log cabin he helped build. He was just awesome all around. Mick Jagger said he had been “very generous to us in our early years and we learned a lot from him.”