The Bo Diddley Interview

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When I was in college I did research on whether the British invasion was caused mainly by the Payola scandal. The scandal was the result of a government investigation into the commonly accepted practice of bribes being paid for playing certain music on the radio which conincidentally at the time was mainly black rock and roll. The theory went that by taking U.S. Rock n’ Roll records off the radio the doors swung wide open for the British rockers to come in because they were well steeped in the music and ready to deliver the goods. Meanwhile the US artists were doing sugarcoated pop versions sung by lightweight artists like Pat Boone.The Animals’ song "The Story of Bo Diddley" woke me up to this dark chapter of the music industry.

"Then in the U.S. music scene there was big changes made due to circumstances beyond our control such as payola, The Rock n’ Roll scene died after two years of solid rock." (Eric Burden)

I went to the library and read microfiche newspaper articles from 1959-60. Alan Freed, the D.J. who coined the phrase Rock and Roll, and others were arrested for allegedly taking bribes to play records on the radio. The records they were allegedly paid to play were then taken off the radio. Bo’s records were taken off the radio. Was it a witch hunt designed to get rid of the Black Rock n’ Roll menace? Penalizing not the perpetrators but the artists? I went and got the answers to these questions and much more from the man himself. As Bo said to me :”If you want to know the truth about something then you’ve got to go directly to the source”.

Bo Diddley was interviewed by *Steve Gabe in Bo’s hotel room at the Hotel Seville, Madison Ave. and 29th St. in 1981.

*Steve Gabe was a journalist for Entertainment Law & Finance and his article "RICO in Entertainment Lawsuits" was cited in the Loyola Entertainment Law Review article "Time to Quit Paying the Payola Piper" (see page 656 - FN 119)

The Bo Diddley Interview:

Steve getting a cab for King Sunny Adé Island Records 1983.
(picture by Kris P.)