May 28, 2010


Today Bo Week goes super live with Bo and The Duchess pumping out a ruckus versions of Hey Bo Diddley. Check out the camera work around 1:30. Bo is the man! The Duchess and the gals then start a groovy dance as the band goes into Bo Diddley. The hypnotic rhythm and monotone costuming from the stage is a cool counterpoint to the crazy dynamics in the audience. Like those familiar scenes from Beatles concerts, you will see 60s teens wrapped in a chaos of fashions and liberated by the music. I love seeing this band at work. The dual Space Age guitars and slick choreography are only the tip of a very deep, primal, and rowdy iceberg.


Amazon is running a Father's Day spotlight sale on film/TV discs and box sets. In the Classic Television section, you'll find Spy Vibe faves (Honey West, Mission Impossible, Wild Wild West, Mannix, Hawaii Five-O, The Baron, etc), as well as other retro fun (Twilight Zone, Doctor Who, Combat, Have Gun Will Travel, Rawhide, Hogan's Heroes, Ba Ba Black Sheep, etc). The Blu-ray list offers many cool titles for fans who like their retro-style adventure in Hi-def (The African Queen, Robin Hood, Magnificent Seven, 2001, V For Vendetta, and the Mid-Century Modern Mad Men).

May 27, 2010


Earlier this week you met Bo Diddley and The Duchess as they ripped it up for Hollywood A Go Go in 1965 with their Space Age guitars. Bo Week continues today with the dynamic duo strumming out their contagious rhythm for a live audience with the classic cartoon-inspired hit, Road Runner!

May 26, 2010


Bo Week continues with another performance on Hollywood A Go Go from 1965. In this clip, Bo and The Duchess run us through a hot (lip synced) version of Let Me Pass. In the spirit of the Space Age, Bo designed a trilogy of futuristic guitars. I've read that he worked with a Gretsch production man named Giulliano in White Plains, NY. They used Gretsch necks, hence the company logo on the head stocks, but the bodies were custom made for Bo. His famous "Box" version has been called minimalist modern art. Bo also played the "Jupiter Thunderbird" and a "Cadillac" Fin-inspired axe that we see in many promotional photographs and performances. Bo's Space Age guitar trilogy continues to influence various production models and they are a special passion for contemporary designer, Ed Roman. Gretsch now produces signature editions of both the Box and Jupiter guitars, including a short-scale Box called the "Mini Diddley!" Images below of the three designs (Box, Jupiter, Cadillac), followed by Bo and The Duchess ripping it up for 1965 TV.

May 25, 2010


Elias McDaniel (1928-2008) moved from Mississippi up to Chicago as a young boy, where childhood pals gave him the nickname "Bo Diddley." The name stuck as a moniker through some early years as a fighter and onto the stage as a musician. Bo dreamed about pounding out traditional drum patterns and, inspired by John Lee Hooker, soon took to the guitar as a percussive instrument. This was the era in Chicago when Chess and VeeJay were pumping the airwaves with the sounds of John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Jimmy Reed, and newcomer Chuck Berry. Bo knew that he couldn't do what they did on the guitar, so he went back into his corner (as he puts it in interviews) and figured out his own trade-mark approach to playing. That drummer instinct came through strong and we have what is now commonly called "The Bo Diddley Beat" - a Rumba-style rhythm that added the Hambone playfulness of banging out beats and rhymes.

Bo's side-guitar player left for the service in 1956 and was replaced by a female musician named Peggy Jones ("Lady Bo"). She established a swinging stage vibe with Bo Diddley and is known as one of the first female lead guitarists. The uncommon site of their male/female act, accentuated by the two rectangular guitars, was quite sizzling (and even erotic). Lady Bo was replaced in 1962 by Norma-Jean Wofford ("The Duchess"), who continued to boogie with Diddley as a rocking lady strummer. Together they made quite a few television appearances between 1962-1966 that captured their contagious, throbbing beat and cool moves- not to mention the stage-side Go Go dancers and teen audience! Join Spy Vibe for a week of hot shows by Bo Diddley & The Duchess!

To hear the seminal recordings by Bo Diddley (with Lady Bo, The Duchess, Billy Boy Arnold, and others), check out the three-volume box set series by Hip O Select. See the Official Bo website here for more information about the Bo's career. Today's clip: Bo Diddley from Hollywood A Go Go 1965. (Photos: Getty Images)

May 23, 2010


Jeannie and the Big Guys I Want You (1964) is cool for this Op Art and Mod-influenced video of 1960s graphics. ModCentric quotes the All Music Guide: "Jeannie and the Big Guys were a Chester quintet, originally called Four Hits & A Miss, the "Miss" being teenaged lead singer Rita Hughes, the daughter of a Chester pub owner, who fronted the group as lead singer for a year or so. As Four Hits and A Miss, their repertory included songs like "Lullaby of Birdland." They became the hottest group in Chester and were signed to Pye in 1963, when Hughes was 17, changing their name to Jeannie and the Big Guys in the process. They cut "Boys" by the Shirelles, which they'd likely heard the Beatles perform, and "Sticks and Stones," an old Ray Charles number, but saw no chart action." Despite their somewhat forgettable sound, it is fun to hear a lesser-known band of the era, check out the graphics, and to set us up for some hotter acts.

May 19, 2010


Two sales going on that Spy Vibers may be interested in. Liam Gallahger (Oasis) was recently in our news regarding a new Beatles-related film project. He's made a further statement that his new band will be doing the soundtrack as well! Liam's 1960s Mod-inspired fashion company is currently having a 30% off sale. Visit Pretty Green for more info. And for those of you who like your 60s style with a large dose of counter-culture, Amazon has the Blu-ray Ultimate Collector's Edition of the Woodstock concerts in their Gold Box today for $26.99 (SALE ENDED).

May 12, 2010


My experimental film and remix for Yoko Ono, The Sun is Down, is an Official Selection for the Park City Film Music Festival. The film's big screen debut will be held at the Egyptian Theatre in Park City Utah on May 22 at 6PM (my birthday- great timing!). "The Sun is Down- very cool!"- Park City Film Music Festival. More information about film and other projects at

May 9, 2010


The style of Swinging London and the spirit of The Beatles has often echoed through the work of Liam Gallagher. During the Oasis years with brother Noel (1991-2009), the band's Fab covers included
I Am the Walrus (The Masterplan/1998), You've Got to Hide Your Love Away (Some Might Say/1995), and Helter Skelter (Familiar to Millions/2000). Liam worked with Yoko Ono to include an excerpt of John Lennon's voice in his haunting song I'm Outta Time on the final Oasis album (Dig Out Your Soul/2009). We've seen Beatles homage throughout the Oasis catalog with many poetic references to song lyrics and titles. Liam has carried the Beatles spirit into his design company, Pretty Green, which sports some great Fab-inspired clothing. Are these guys Beatles fans? When Liam had a son in 1999, he named the boy Lennon.

But before you dismiss Liam as an obsessed fan or Austin Powers for the music/fashion scene, remember that this is a man who can walk the walk. He does mine the 1960s and the Fabs for inspiration, but his output is snarling and honest. Liam is an artist with a powerfully personal voice- the world be damned. This is true in terms of his interpretive work. I was interested to learn that the BBC announced yesterday that Liam's film company, In 1 Productions, will be teaming up with Revolution Films to adapt a Beatles book for the big screen. The book,
The Longest Cocktail Party, was published by Playboy in 1973, and is Richard DiLello's look at the final years of The Beatles and the climate within the Beatles' company Apple. A spokesman for In 1 Productions said: "This will be a film with humour and affection, providing an insider's look at what it meant to be a young man caught up in the wild swirl of the music business, celebrities and the tail end of the swinging 60s in London." As Art imitates life and life imitates Art, perhaps this is Liam's way to creatively process the final unraveling of Oasis last year? Moving away from interpretation into docu-drama will be a new step. If the cameras roll as planned, I hope the film gives us honest, developed characters, as well as a stylish feast for fans of 1960s design.

May 8, 2010


The Complete Get Smart series on sale today in Amazon's Gold Box. Details here.

May 5, 2010


From the typical musician's penthouse studio of early Hollywood films to the dream apartments of 1950s
Playboy magazine to Matt Helm's revolving bed (that tilts him into his pool!), we've seen some swinging pads in our day. Imagine a subterranean lair, like in Danger Diabolik, but with a Playboy Mansion slant. Lots of Ken Adam's curves and a Kubrick futuristic glow. Instead of the tilting bed, how about a tube that you can jump into- ala Thunderbirds- that slides you down into your pool below? You go it! Located in Bowdon, Cheshire UK, Country Life has it listed for a cool 2 million pounds. Check it out here.

May 1, 2010


When it comes to jazzy grooves for spies, it's hard to top the soundtrack music Lalo Schifrin wrote for Mission Impossible. I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds himself humming the theme song when embarking on some new challenge or errand. Years ago I picked up the Mission Impossible Anthology (One Way Records/1994). Schifrin's cues are amazing and immediately evoke memories of various characters and moments from the show. There is something akin to illustration in this music, for it seems to tell a large part of the story aurally. But the track that sticks with me as most groovy is Mission Blues. I don't see it listed on the Best Of CD that is currently available, so I suggest Spy Vibers track down the CD or Vinyl release of the Anthology or the original 1969 More Mission Impossible record to get the full-range experience of the tune. The interplay between the bass and brass is funky and Spy Vibe cool!