Bo Diddley’s ‘Before You Accuse Me’ influential as the master

Bo Diddley

Written by John Kessler

Bo Diddley may not have had the commercial success of some other performers, but his contributions to American musical culture are huge.

Besides his trademark “Bo Diddley beat,” he had a brash sense of style, dressing in outlandish outfits, playing custom-made square guitars and generally having a lot of fun on stage. In fact, he was a key player in the transition from blues to rock and roll, using a hard-edged guitar sound that would influence Buddy Holly, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix.

Bo Diddley recorded “Before You Accuse Me” in 1957.

In his band at the time was Peggy Jones, one of the first female lead guitarists in history. Here’s a great time-travel clip (complete with Go-Go dancers) of Bo Diddley performing his theme song (with Peggy Jones) from a 1965 television show Hollywood A Go-Go :


Creedence Clearwater Revival had a swampy, country-rock sound, singing about heartland America and the South in particular, even though they were from San Francisco. They also had a knack for remaking earlier r&b and blues songs, like “Suzie Q” and “Heard it Through the Grapevine.” They covered “Before You Accuse Me” in 1970.

Delbert McClinton brings elements of blues, country soul and rock to everything he sings. He started as a harmonica player in the ’60s, and played the prominent harp part in Bruce Channel’s 1962 hit “Hey Baby.” On a tour to England that same year he apparently gave John Lennon harmonica lessons – right about the time the Beatles were recording “Love Me Do,” a song with an important harmonica part.

In 1991 he won a Grammy singing on Bonnie Raitt’s album Nick of Time. Delbert McClinton recorded “Before You Accuse Me” for his 1976 record Genuine Cowhide.

Besides being one of the best guitarists of his generation, Eric Clapton has been a champion of blues music, and the man largely responsible for making Robert Johnson a household name with Cream’s 1969 cover of Johnson’s “Crossroads.” (Interestingly, Clapton achieved a similar accomplishment with his 1974 version of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff,” bringing reggae music to the mainstream.)

Eric Clapton has made several recordings of “Before You Accuse Me.” The one we feature is an unreleased track from the mid-1970’s that was later issued in 1999 on his album Blues.

This is a live clip of Clapton performing “Before You Accuse Me” in 1990:


Here are the complete versions of “Before You Accuse Me,” tracked through time:


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