Mentor Advice: Bo Diddley

When I first moved to California I got a job in Guitar Center & that was awesome because I met so many extremely talented, famous musicians since it was Hollywood, Guitar Center on Sunset Blvd in the late 80’s. There was a lot going on at that time & I was lucky to get a job there then. Back then it was different - there were no computers, we had deal books & we could smoke behind the counter in the store . Oddly enough Bo Diddley was one of my customers. I had many famous big time customers but Bo Diddley was one of my regular customers.  He would come in pretty regular & just hang out with me. I would be off in the corner playing guitar  usually & he would come in & eventually I would sell him pedals. He was a guy that loved to tinker & build things & mess around with his guitar & he would bring in his guitar like a box & he was buying foot pedals but he didn’t like them on the ground so he would put the pedals in the guitar. It would have 3 or 4 slots & he would slide them in & he could take out different pedals & slide in whatever he wanted to use & he would like to just hit it with his hand. So I would sell him his pedals & we would just talk & hang.

Now what are you saying with all that?”

— Bo Diddley

One day we were hanging & this was one of the most definitive lessons I ever learned it was a really cool moment. At the time, at the store there was a pedal display for Boss & it had every pedal the company made. It had a rows of pedals on like a foot rest, all angled & 2 guitar amps on top so you can come, sit & play & try every single pedal. It was brand new & one day I was hanging out with Bo & this dude comes in & sits down in front of the display & he starts playing, trying the pedals & he was an 80’s shredder guy, playing a zillion notes & I noticed it caught Bo’s attention & he just zoned in on the guy.  I remember looking at Bo & he had that look on his face just like he had in the movie Trading Places, the scene with Dan Ackroyd in the pawn shop. So he is just looking at this guy & I was wondering what is about to happen. So Bo walks right over to him & the guy stops playing & looks up at Bo ( I don't think he knew who Bo was ) & Bo looked right at him & said “ Now what are you saying with all that?” & I just thought , Wow , what a great way to put it. As a guitar player myself already playing for over a decade at that time or longer I never thought of it like that. I never thought - what are you saying? So to have him say that right in front of me to this guy - that's just stayed with me ever since & in fact its a huge part at looking at my own insecurities with myself and my playing and so I asked myself, what am I saying? & if I don’t know what I'm saying then how will anybody else know what I'm saying? And If I'm not saying anything - then why am I yapping anyways? That was a big moment for me.  I always felt as though if you don’t have anything to say then get off the stage. That was big thing for me to actually correlate words, meaning with notes. And that is my favorite Bo Diddley story.

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