A Popular African-Derived Rhythm Used In Rock and Pop Music Is Called The?
Answer: Bo Diddley Beat
If you’ve listened to pop music or rock at any time in the last half century, there’s a very good chance that you’ve heard—whether you realize it or not—a percussive beat pattern known as the “Bo Diddley Beat”. The beat first appeared on rhythm and blues musician Bo Diddley’s self-titled 1955 debut single Bo Diddley. We’d encourage you to listen to it here, because musical trivia is best understood when experiencing the music in question.
The song is notable for a variety of reasons including the way it fused African rhythms with guitar chords. The beat, a rhythm that is very similar to a 3-2 clave beat, was named in honor of Bo Diddley for his contribution to American music via the song in question. It is very similar to an African folk tradition called “hambone” where the body is used as a percussion tool and shares characteristics with African, Caribbean, and Cuban Rumba music.
When asked where he came up with the beat, Bo Diddley explained that it was a result of listening to gospel music in the African-American churches he attended while growing up in the South. Since its introduction and popularization in American music in the 1950s, the beat has been used in numerous songs throughout the ensuing decades including Faith (George Michael), Mr. Brownstone (Guns N’ Roses), Magic Bus (The Who), Panic in Detroit (David Bowie), Desire (U2), and Please Go Home (The Rolling Stones).