Happy Birthday Bo Diddley: Playing With The Grateful Dead In 1972

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Today marks what would have been legendary rock ‘n’ roller Bo Diddley’s 92nd birthday. Born Ellas Otha Bates in McComb, Mississippi on December 30, 1928, Diddley would later move to Chicago with his family and go on to become one of the most influential figures in early rock ‘n’ roll and thus modern popular music. Bo Diddley died on June 2, 2008. A number of Diddley’s signature songs feature the syncopated rhythm that carries his name, the “Bo Diddley Beat.” One of those he influenced, Buddy Holly, would use the “Bo Diddley Beat” on his song “Not Fade Away.”

Another band influenced by Holly and Diddley, the Grateful Dead, began playing “Not Fade Away” as early as 1968. A few years later on March 25, 1972, the Dead were in the midst of a seven show residency at the Academy Of Music in New York City. During the run, the band played a semi-private party booked by the Hells Angels and billed as “Jerry Garcia & Friends.” One of those friends was none other than Bo Diddley.

Perhaps a more apt bill would have been “Bo Diddley & Friends” as the first section of the concert featured GD — guitarists Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, keyboardists Keith Godchaux and Ron “Pigpen” McKernan and drummer Bill Kreutzmann — backing up Bo on a number of his songs including “Hey Bo Diddley,” “I’m a Man (Mannish Boy),” “Mona” and more. The show is also notable as the first official appearance of vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux, as per Jerry Garcia.com, as well as containing the only Grateful Dead versions of “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” (A JGB staple) and Freddie Scott’s “Are You Lonely for Me.” The concert was captured for posterity and later released as part of Dick’s Picks Volume 30 in October 2003.

To celebrate Bo Diddley’s birthday, listen to the Grateful Dead backing up the rock ‘n’ roll legend and more in a variety of streaming formats below:

Setlist (via Jerry Garcia.com)

Set One: Hey Bo Diddley > Mannish Boy (I’m A Man) > I’ve Seen Them All > Jam, Take It Off, Mona, You Know I Love You So, Unknown Blues, Pollution, Say Boss Man, Jam, Jam

Set Two: How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), Are You Lonely For Me, Baby?, Next Time You See Me, Brown Eyed Women, Smokestack Lightning, Sitting On Top Of The World, Sugaree, Looks Like Rain, Bertha, Mr. Charlie, Black Throated Wind, Deal, Playing In The Band, Good Lovin’, Turn On Your Lovelight, Casey Jones

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