I had the opportunity to catch Bo Diddley’s show at the Belly Up back in June of 2005. I have been collecting guitars since the early ’80s. I got the bug from watching the Who movie The Kids Are Alright. There is a scene where John Entwistle is walking in his mansion and you see all these really cool guitars! As a kid watching this, it left an impression.

At some point I picked up a Gretsch “Bo Diddley” model guitar…yep, the rectangular one that he is famous for playing. So I figured, “Hell, I’ll bring it to the show and maybe I’ll get him to autograph it.” After the show, I brought my guitar in to get it signed. People were, like, “Where did you get that thing?” Other people had brought along Epiphones, Les Pauls, an acoustic guitar, pick guards, and records.

As I waited, the other guitar player in Bo’s band saw me and inquired about the guitar and mentioned that Bo Diddley no longer signs guitars that are not his (referring to the Bo Diddley signature models). He said, “Bo has to see this” and took me backstage to meet him. I went backstage and there he was! I shook his hand and introduced myself and said what an honor it was to meet a true pioneer of rock ’n’ roll and I thanked him.

When I shook his hand, I noticed he had long, thick, callused blues-playing fingers, which reminded me of the time I met Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top at the Casbah…the same fingers and hands. Anyway, Bo said, “Let me see that guitar,” and he signed it “from Bo Diddley.” That guitar will always remind me of the true meaning of rock ’n’ roll.

– Rex Navarro, Thee Corsairs

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