The death of rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Bo Diddley in June of 2008 struck a chord close to home.
Members of local band The Blue Voodoo formed the musical backbone for Diddley during one of his last ever performances, in March 2007 at Mission’s Clarke Theatre.
Two months later, Diddley suffered a stroke during a concert in Iowa. He later had a heart attack that ultimately led to his death of heart failure at his home in Archer, Florida. He was 79.
For the gig in Mission, White Rock-based concert promoter Rob Warwick, who runs Rock.It Boy Entertainment, hired members of the Blue Voodoo — Rick Dalgarno on guitar, Ted Tosoff on bass and their part-time bandmate Bryon Tosoff on keyboards — to back Diddley with the help of his touring drummer.
It was an unexpected but welcome opportunity for the local musicians.
“We actually went and bought his greatest-hits CD (in the days) prior to the show,” Bryon Tosoff recalled at the time, “(and) we learned his most familiar songs.
“(We) worked with Sandy Gennaro, Bo’s drummer, for about 45 minutes learning the format of what would happen during the show and what to expect. Basically it was a crash-course in Bo’s show. We did not do any practice with Bo at all.“
The band opened the show playing the familiar riff of “Bo Diddley” — the song that became his trademark in the 1950s — for a couple of minutes before the star walked on stage.
(SCROLL DOWN TO SEE VIDEO OF DIDDLEY PERFORMING THE SONG FOR ‘LEGENDS OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL DVD)
“The crowd went wild and it made your hair stand up on end,” Tosoff said at the time. “It was a magical time for them and all of us indeed.“
After the gig, the band members, along with Warwick, local guitar ace Jason Buie and others, enjoyed time talking with Diddley backstage and posing for photos.
“The man was very relaxed and easy to talk to,” Tosoff said at the time, “just a man who knew how to connect with people with no airs whatsoever.“
On stage, Diddley sat on a chair while playing guitar and singing. Backstage and around town, a lack of mobility forced him to use a wheelchair that Warwick had rented for him.
“It was pretty cool to work with a legend like that,” Warwick said in 2008.
“It was a phenomenal show.“