Any Good Stories/Personal Experiences Meeting a Blues Guitar Hero

archetype

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Dunno if you count him as a "blues guitar hero", but I met Bo Diddley once. It turned out to be one of the greatest performances I've ever seen, although I'm probably the only person who saw it who thinks so.

It was at a 40th anniversary party in Aspen for some rich guy who booked out a fancy hotel and three bands- Bo Diddley, the Spinners, and a regional function band who also did a set as Bo's backing band. At noon, they brought in a lunch buffet for the crew and we sat down to eat. Before long Bo walked in, alone, wearing the hat and carrying a square guitar case. He looked around, and said "I'm playing here tonight, mind if I grab a sandwich?" I told him there was a green room down the hall for the bands that had better food, but he shook his head and said "naw, I don't want that bull***t, I'd rather just eat with y'all if that's OK".

So, I had lunch with Bo Diddley. We just kind of made small talk, but he said "man, I hate these corporate gigs. But the money's too good to pass up, you know?" I said, "why do you think I'm here?" and he laughed. Later at soundcheck, he tried to get the pickup band to learn some new songs he'd written. He even provided lead sheets, but they were NOT into it. I worked with this band about a dozen times, and they always sucked. They were very polished and professional though, so they got a lot of high dollar function band work. Finally Bo just gave up. At showtime, Bo tried his level best to put over some kind of spirited performance for the monied elite of Aspen, none of whom gave a single crap about him or his music. The pickup band just kind of thudded along unenthusiastically behind him.

Then, it happened. Bo broke a string. No big deal, it happens. But Bo didn't turn down his amp. Even though the FOH guy took him out of the mix, Bo managed to blast that beautiful ballroom with the sounds of a man repeatedly throwing his guitar in and out of tune- it soon became obvious he was doing it on purpose. The pickup band shot each other nervous glances like "WTF is he doing?" Finally, guitar still out of tune, Bo approached the mic. He began wailing on the guitar like a madman and screaming. Not vocalizing, screaming. Like a banshee. Sonic Youth would have been impressed with the noise spewing from Bo's amp. It was madness. It instantly threw the room into chaos. People ran for the doors, others clapped their hands over their ears and glared at the stage. They were finally paying attention to him, all right.

The pickup band looked terrified like deer in headlights, until the drummer kicked into the Bo Diddley beat. The band then fell behind Bo, trying to make order from the chaos, which just made it crazier. It was beautiful. It was the most rock 'n' roll thing I have ever seen. Bo grabbed the mic stand and started playing wild, out of tune slide with it. At this point, the room was empty except for the band and crew. As a finale, Bo leaned his guitar on the rented JC120, raked his hand across the knobs to crank them all wide open, and walked away. It wailed for a good minute before the pickup band guitarist gingerly switched off the amp. The silence afterwards was deafening.

I saw him arguing with the meeting planner in the corner of the room, until she grudgingly handed him a check. Bo grabbed his stuff, and in seconds had disappeared out the side door into the night. The other guys in the crew snickered about it later, but I knew we'd seen a performance for the ages.

That's fabulous! Thanks for retelling.
 

sax4blues

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Blues hero is on the right we grew up in the same neighborhood
DA4E74BE-22C0-4E7C-B0D1-0D0008143306.jpeg
 

redhouse_ca

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I ran into Jerry Garcia once.... literally. I was walking out of the studio and he was walking in.... both carrying guitars, lookin down, lost in thought and bonk... bumped heads. a bit of small talk and on our ways (1970)

I sat in on a jam with about 10 guitar players taking turns with the remnants of Jerry Hahn Brotherhood. Carlos Santana and Neil Schon played.... Neil was like 16 and really looked like a kid, the were recording Abraxis at the time (1970), they both had LPs and Princeton amps that had been hot rodded... rumored to be the beginnings of Mesa Boogie amps

Elvin Bishop made jambiya over at my house once. a guy from my old band was part of Elvin's tour band & when they came through we connected. I have pictures of him on one of my motorcycles.

actually.... there are several more but it was mostly just being in the same room & little to no interaction
That’s cool. I was in the security line behind Bob Weir. He had a carry on guitar with him and they sent him to secondary screening. I was really tempted to take a photo which I would label “shakedown street”, since they looked to be shaking him down pretty well, but I didn’t want to be “that guy” and instead wanted to give him a little privacy. Later I found him in the AMEX lounge and did that “hey man, I’m a big fan” thing and everyone around him who heard that pulled out their phones and scrambled to try and figure out who he was so I guess I failed at giving him his privacy.
 

Old Deaf Roadie

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I've met more than a few as I worked for a soundco that did a ton of festivals & fairs. BB King, Memphis Slim, most of the Alligator Records lineup. The best one? I carried John Lee Hooker's guitar from the courtesy van to the area his band was staging at. This was when I was young, before they let me near the mixers and I was a "lowly systems tech", but that position offered plenty of down time to socialize backstage.
 

nvilletele

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As has been reported elsewhere, I met and chatted with Jackson Browne and Darryl Hannah in an Indian restaurant in Tokyo.

But he’s not a blues guitarist so I won’t mention it.
 

StrangerNY

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I was a staff writer for an entertainment paper in Philly in the mid-seventies, and my editor knew I played guitar and she ended up giving me some pretty cool assignments. And one of them was with Rory Gallagher on the tour for the Against the Grain album in 1975.

The way it usually worked was I'd report to whatever hotel the artist was staying at and meet up in the coffee shop and do the interview there. But when I got to Rory's hotel, his road manager came down and told me that Rory wasn't feeling well and he wanted to do the interview in his room. No problem, to the room I went.

Rory was a really good interview, despite being under the weather. We talked at length about his solo career, his time with Taste, the 'troubles' in Northern Ireland, and his audience in the States (he seemed a little discouraged that he couldn't break through here). All in all we talked for over an hour, which was extremely generous for an artist. Most of them did so many interviews on tour that they'd usually answer the minimum number of questions, pick up the tab for the coffee and head back to the room.

When I walked into the room I took note that his Strat was lying on the bed. Once we'd wrapped the interview, I asked him for a favor and he said 'What do you need?'

I asked, 'Do you mind if I try your guitar?'

He walked over to the bed, grabbed the Strat and handed it to me. I played some chords and a couple of lead lines, and we ended up talking for another 10 minutes or so about guitars and guitarists. Looking back on all the interviews I got to do, I have to say that Rory Gallagher was the most gracious of the bunch.

- D
 

Killing Floor

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I met Bon Jovi’s whole band a few times and Sambora was a DB but after a year JBJ remembered my name. He’s one of the coolest celebs I’ve met. Very humble and genuinely nice.
I met Tom Scholz and he was not pleasant. I’ve heard he’s a lot nicer so maybe I caught him on a bad day.
 

ChazFromCali

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Blues guy? Only one I can remember is Buddy Whittington. I was in Guitar Showcase in San Jose (probably mid 90's) It was basically deserted. Midweek maybe. I was walking around in the back of the store where all the vintage stuff was behind the glass, when I hear a guy playing some fiery blues licks. I come upon a chubby guy standing there playing a vintage strat. I guess they had got it out for him. I walked up to him, he nodded at me, I nodded back and listened to him play for a few minutes. He was really giving it a workout. He seemed pretty intent on what he was doing so I didn't chat him up. I vaguely knew who he was at the time. My only blues guy story, lol.
 

saleake

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I was 18 in 1968 and went to Houston to visit a friend. We went down to a club there called Love Street Light Circus and Feelgood Machine. We asked who was playing and were told Lightning Hopkins. Well, we thought it must be a name for a psychedelic band, so we went in. It was Lightning, a harmonica player, and a drummer. They were all extremely inebriated. I remember the drummer had a floor tom, but he never played it. He had an ash tray and a ham sandwich sitting on it. We listen to about two songs and left. We had no idea we were in the presence of greatness.
 

Killing Floor

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I had pizza with Johnny Ramone once. Nice guy.

I met the Beastie Boys after one of their shows and a while later they came to a club in Atlanta that I happened to be at. They were in a night off opening for Madonna and Mike D asked if I’d seen them in NY. So we hung out for a little while again.

I drove all of the Red Hot Chili Peppers in my crappy Pontiac from their show at an Atlanta club to another club so they could see Dead Kennedys show afterwards. That was when Hillel was alive. They were a riot.

I met Eric Johnson a handful of times. He was cool to talk to. I didn’t talk about gear. It’s better that way.
 

StrangerNY

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I met Tom Scholz and he was not pleasant. I’ve heard he’s a lot nicer so maybe I caught him on a bad day.

Scholz was another one I got to interview - a phoner from Miami, where he was on tour with Queen. He seemed really nice, even inviting me to call him at the next tour stop in Atlanta and giving me the contact information to do so.

I think I scored big points with him when I pointed out that the end of the guitar solo in 'More Than a Feeling' was very similar to the melody in The Tornados' 'Telstar' - he even admitted that was where he nicked it from and congratulated me on being the first interviewer to bring it up!

And I got a scoop from him - the day I interviewed him was the day that Tommy Bolin was found dead in his hotel room. Boston was staying in the same hotel, and I think I was the first guy in Philly to hear about his death. I called a friend who worked at radio station WMMR and tipped him off, and they went public with it shortly afterwards.

Scholz invited me to come out and visit when the tour hit Philly, but by the time they got to Philly Queen had decided to not let anyone backstage at the Spectrum, so I missed my chance to actually meet him.

- D
 

blueruins

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BB King used to have his L5 amps repaired at the shop I worked at in Las Vegas. BB would come in occasionally.
I never did have the good fortune to be there when he was but my co-workers said he was as nice and gracious as everyone else says he was.
My buddy (who’s a hell of a guitar player) asked BB to show him a few licks and he said the King tried to oblige but said you could tell that’s not really the way he played guitar.
The closest I ever got to BB King was following his tour bus home after seeing his concert in Laughlin, NV. I can tell you that the Kings bus was doing 100 easy on the I-15.
 




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