(First published April 2016)
In 1950s and 60s, women were more likely to be found in the titles of songs than actually in the band, but two women in particular stand out and they both did their time with R&B and Blues man Bo Diddley, The Originator. You might not of heard of either of them, but both women were key players in the birth and development of Rock n Roll.
Peggy Jones – Lady Bo – 1940-2015
Innovative guitar player Peggy Jones, played and recording during the 50s, before meeting Bo Diddly and joining his band, where she become known as Lady Bo. She and Diddley shared rhythm and lead roles so seamlessly it was difficult to know who was doing what, and together they created the iconic guitar sound of the time. She experimented with synthesizers and new guitar technologies, developing the sound that made Bo Diddley. But that was just the start of her musical career. She left the band in 1961 to pursue a solo career with her own band The Family Jewel, recording hit records as well as playing with countless other bands and being a sought after session musician.
She and her band joined up with Bo Diddly again in 1970 and performed with him for the next 20 years, as well as with her solo act.
Sorry about the quality of this video, but the sound quality is much better than on others I could find.
Norma-Jean Wofford – The Duchess – 1942 – 2005
Wofford was taught to play guitar by Bo Diddley during the 1950s, and when his guitarist Peggy Jones left the band in 1961, he invited Norma-Jean to join. He nicknamed her The Duchess and told his band and crew she was his sister “to protect her when we were on the road”. She played lead and rhythm guitar, on both studio recordings and on stage.
With her custom Gretsch and her gold lame frocks, she was visually stunning, but she could also play, pumping out that Bo Diddley sound, playing on albums Bo Diddley & Company The Originator and more.