The Most Bad-Ass Riff
Rock and roll has some killer riffs, mostly played on the electric guitar, and there is no riff more bad-ass than the da-dum-da-DUM riff from songs like Bo Diddley’s “I’m A Man.”
Bo had some killer riffs in some of his songs, but the original source seems to be “(I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man,” by Muddy Waters from 1954. Written by Willie Dixon, it seems to be the first use of this motif that has shown up in blues and rock music ever since. Bo Diddley, a Chess Records label mate of Muddy Waters, cut his “I’m A Man” in 1955 and Muddy actually answered that record with his own “Mannish Boy.”
Remember Muddy singing “Mannish Boy” in The Band/Martin Scorsese film The Last Waltz? That was actually Muddy’s own remake, modeled after his version on the 1977 album Hard Again. The Rolling Stones copped that same song and riff the same year, for their album Love You Live.
Many others have used the same riff, either covering the blues classics of Bo and Muddy, or doing their own originals. “Bad To The Bone” by George Thorogood to the very recent “Early Roman Kings” by Bob Dylan have used this riff.
It’s lasted this long, and shows no sign of ever going away. That is because it’s bad-ass.
YouTube: “Early Roman Kings” by Bob Dylan