This year’s death toll just keeps a risin’. Eddie Bo (Edwin Joseph Bocage) died last Wednesday (March 18th) , felled by a massive heart attack. A pianist, singer and songwriter, Eddie Bo, was born in New Orleans 9th Ward and had a career that spanned over half a century. He came from a large, musical family (Sidney Bechet was his great uncle). You could trace the history of New Orleans R&B through Bo’s career, he must have made at least a hundred singles spread out over dozens of labels including Apollo, Chess, Ace, Ric, Swan, Cinderella, Scram and others. A discography can be found here. If you are unfamiliar with his work you can learn more by checking out the Eddie Bo archives here. His career is too long and detailed to get into it in much depth here, but he’s probably best known for writing and recording the original version of Little Richard’s Slippin’ & Slidin’, which he called I’m Wise when he recorded it for the Apollo label in ’54.
Some of my favorite Eddie Bo sides are Hey Bo (Apollo), Walk That Walk, Oh Oh (both on Chess), We Like Mambo, I Love To Rock & Roll (both on Ace). I also thought I’d throw in these two funk classics since he’s extremely popular with soul and funk collectors and dj’s, mostly through these two numbers– Hook and Sling (Scram) and Check Your Bucket (Bo-Sound).
He played the Circle Bar once, at the first Mau Mau Ball, and he was great. I don’t remember a lot about his set since he was playing on the same bill as Howard Tate, R.L. Burnside, Tousaint McCall, Jody Williams, and a dozen other greats (in a bar the size of a postage stamp, a small postage stamp at that), but I do remember him doing Check Your Bucket. If you like what I’ve posted here, keep in mind that it’s the tip of a musical iceberg, Eddie Bo’s career is an archaeologist (and record collector’s) dream, there’s enough good Eddie Bo stuff out there to fill your entire Ipod.