Riswold made up for his not using me for a Miles Davis commercial by letting me do Bo Jackson and Bo Diddley. Jim was brilliant at matching icons from different eras, Lou Reed, Miles Davis, Bugs Bunny, and Michael Jordan. That’s why Jim was named as one of the most influential Americans by Newsweek Magazine a while back.
When I was a kid, Bo Diddley by Bo Diddley was my favorite R & B song. We used to play the Hambone on street corners and Bo Diddley used the Hambone Strum in his music. The Hambone was a rhythm that you beat on your thighs and chest with the palms of your hands. I first saw my Father’s friends do a version of this in the various Polish clubs when I was a small boy. The older Polish men also used their feet. Of course, the rhythms were of the Polka and the black versions were more connected to the Blues. Anyway, it was a thrill to work with an icon that connected to my youth. I could care less about Bo Jackson (just kidding). The heartbreak is that Bo Diddley could barely play by that time and worse, he wasn’t allowed to legally play his classic, Bo Diddley, having given up the rights years earlier, when he needed money — a classic story.
He was hysterically funny in the commercial and I couldn’t stop shooting. His energy affected everyone, including Bo Jackson. We had other musicians off camera doing the actual playing and to this day Bo Jackson thinks he played.
People don’t have a clue what the Hambone is and sometimes I just do it. They think I’m weird.