Bo Diddley was a pioneer of Rock ‘n’ Roll in more ways than one. He would be more inclusive of women talent in his act than many of his contemporaries, playing with the likes of Norma-Jean “The Duchess” Wofford, Gloria Jolivet, Peggy “Lady Bo” Jones, and Cornelia “Cookie V” Redmond. Peggy Jones, also known as Lady Bo, played with Bo Diddley’s band in the late 1950s and early 1960s as lead guitarist becoming one of, if not the first, female guitarists of a prominent band.
Before a show at the Apollo theater, Bo and Peggy struck up a conversation which would Bo to play with and teach Lady Bo his signature moves and unusual techniques. She would take up the stage name “Lady Bo” where she would play alongside Bo Diddley skillfully switching between lead and rhythm parts within a single verse. Her guitar can be heard on Hey Bo Diddley, Say Man, Say Man Back Again, and Road Runner. Contrary to a popular belief at the time, she and Bo were of no relation; in fact- Lady Bo would go on to marry Bo Diddley’s bass guitarist.
“The Duchess,” Norm-Jean, would join Bo’s band from 1962 to 1966 after Lady Bo would go on to her own R&B career and would grace the cover of several of Diddley’s albums including Bo Diddley & Company, Bo Diddley’s Beach Party, Hey! Good Lookin’, 500% More Man, and The Originator. The pair were as close as family with Bo telling everyone she was his sister even though they were not related. She would eventually get married and go off to raise a family of her own.
Cornelia “Cookie V” Redmond would go on tour with Bo for over 25 years- even playing with him at the Woodstock pop festival. She was anything but shy, endlessly working the crowds with her jokes, dances, and skits. Behind the scenes she brought a similar intrigue from her band mates and onlookers for her pet monkey.