Thursday, May 05, 2005

R.I.P. Duchess

From my e-mail:

Hey BO DIDDLEY fans,

We were very saddened to receive the news today that Norma-Jean Richardson aka Duchess, fondly-remembered member of the BO DIDDLEY band between the years 1962 and 1966, died at 4.00am local time this morning (Saturday) in hospital in Fontana, CA.

Born Norma-Jean Wofford in Pittsburgh, PA, BO DIDDLEY taught her to play and how to emulate his sound on the electric guitar. Contrary to speculation during the time that she was a member of his band, Norma-Jean and BO DIDDLEY were not related.

Given the stage name Duchess by BO DIDDLEY, she joined his band on electric guitar and vocals just prior to the recording of the "Bo Diddley & Company" LP in 1962 and appearing on the front cover of the album sleeve.

The following year she played on the classic live "Bo Diddley's Beach Party" LP, before undertaking BO DIDDLEY's debut UK tour in the fall of 1963, along with the Everly Brothers, Little Richard and the then newly-formed Rolling Stones, followed by a second tour of the UK in the fall of 1965.

Notable TV and movie appearances for BO DIDDLEY and Duchess included the Clay Cole TV show and "The Big TNT Show" movie and two appearances on the popular "Ready Steady Go!" UK TV music show.

Duchess was also immortalised in song at the time by Eric Burdon in the Animals' recording "The Story of Bo Diddley":

He turned around the Duchess And he said, "Hey Duchess...what do you think of these young guys Doin' our material?" She said, "I don't know. I only came across here To see the Changin' of the Guards and all that jazz." (Words and music: Eric Burdon/Ellas McDaniel)

This message from Norma-Jean's long-time friend Ritzy Lee of the singing group The Del-Vikings:

"I am very saddened by this news, because in the 40 or more years that I have known Norma-Jean, I have never seen or heard anything about her or the life she lived that was not GOOD. She not only loved playing the guitar, but loved as well the reception that she experienced from all of the BO DIDDLEY fans around the world. And she expounded on that fact many, many times to me during our various conversations over the years. Norma-Jean Richardson was truly The Duchess of Rock and Roll".

We send our sincere condolences to Norma-Jean's family and friends at this very sad time.

(Maybe the Old Road Hog can post some songs...)


Blogger theoldroadhog said...

I'd like to...I have the Beach Party record on LP. The thing I would say to look out for is any copy you can get of the TNT Show...very hard-to-find movie, features the Duchess in a silver sequin dress. She and Bo play matching weird shaped guitars, and they have those wiggly phone-type coiled cables that bounce to the Bo Diddley beat. Visual spectacle: yes.

10/5/05 12:08 PM  

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