Monday, December 28, 2009

Music Monday ~ Bo Diddley & Del Shannon

Two musicians from past decades had birthdays this week, and on the same day, 30 December: Bo Diddley (1928) and Del Shannon (1934).....Ah yes! I remember them! They're not alike in style or personality though; their natal charts contain very different configurations, linked only by a common Sun and Mercury in Capricorn. I'm taking a quick drive-by look at these two musicians, and their natal charts.

Bo Diddley: his signature beat is often heard but nowadays not often associated with its originator. Rolling Stone describes the beat as "bonk-de-bonk-bonk, de-bonk-bonk", but that doesn't do it for me. I have to think of Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" before I can get a fix on that Diddley beat.

Bo Diddley is a legend among fellow-musicians and fans alike, yet listening to his music now, or watching a few videos of his performances at YouTube, it can seem tame compared with what has come after. Bo was one of the first rock 'n-rollers, back in the 1950s. He was part of the musical avant garde then, he and a handful of others: Little Richard, Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, they set the ball rolling, and it hasn't stopped since.
From Rolling Stone:
At age seventy-six, reeling from diabetes, back problems and a pending divorce, Diddley still brims with life and enthusiasm, displaying the maverick spirit that made him one of the inventors of rock & roll, as well as the square guitar he used to play, to say nothing of the beat that bears his name. Much ink has been spilled in an attempt to figure out just where the oft-imitated Bo Diddley beat came from. But to meet Diddley, who's in Manhattan to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of his first single, "Bo Diddley," is to understand the answer: The man is simply inventive.

Bo Diddley died of heart failure on June 2, 2008.

Born 30 December 1928 in McComb, Mississippi. No birth time available, so a 12 noon chart is shown, but the rising sign and exact Moon degree will not be accurate.

Sun and Mercury in steady Capricorn, flanked by a sextile between Venus (the musical planet) in inventive Aquarius and his Sun's ruler, Saturn, in happy-go-lucky Sagittarius. Now that's a nice configuration, providing stability, but with a lighter and brighter feel. There's a harmonious Airy trine aspect between Venus in Aquarius and Mars in Gemini, which I suspect links to his inventive trait, with Mars in Gemini "giving it legs", as they say - the ability to get it out there. This same feel is repeated in another trine, this one between Neptune, the planet of creativity and Jupiter, planet of publication in the Earth signs of Virgo and Taurus, bringing his creativity to the public, and matching his Earthy Sun/Mercury. Without a birth time we can't know which sign was rising, but I'd not be surprised to find his natal Uranus in Aries near the ascendant angle, where planets are at their most powerful, for this would combine his avant garde inventiveness and Aries rising: strong initiative and bountiful energy.

Del Shannon's real name was Charles Westover; his musical style comes under the general "pop" label rather than rock 'n roll proper. His roots were in country music, but his most popular songs were mainstream pop ballads, tear-jerkers reflecting his battles with depression and feelings of vulnerability and rejection.
In high school, he was too small to play football, and if you couldn’t play football in Coopersville, you didn’t amount to much. Westover was the waterboy, who brought his guitar to the games to entertain. Young Charles was never quite popular with the girls in school. One day he asked a girl named Karen if she would go to the senior prom with him. She said yes. Two weeks later, as the prom drew nearer, she dumped Westover for another boy, one of Charles’ rivals. This put Westover in a huge depression he seemingly never recovered from, for many of the songs he would write later in his adult life would result from his feelings of early loss, hurt, and betrayal.(See here.)
In the liner notes from the CD This Is Del Shannon, Dawn Eden wrote:

"When I met Del Shannon, nine months before his death, he had a childlike innocence unlike anyone I`d ever seen. It was backstage at an oldies show. While his contemporaries on the bill were all jaded to various degrees, Del`s eyes sparkled brightly. When he took the stage, his whole body was infused with the youthful brio of one for whom rock was a genuine means of expression. He wasn`t just going through the motions. Del was sensitive, but not just in the sensitive artist sense. He reached out to friends and strangers alike, taking a genuine interest in their well being. But the flip side of sensitivity is vulnerability, something he knew only too well. The feelings of loneliness and isolation in his songs were real. However, as he noted to me, he didn`t compose them through a veil of tears. He said, "When I wrote `I Go To Pieces` I was in a great place. I usually write when I`m in a great place. When I`m depressed, I don`t usually write. So I take all of when I`m depressed and throw it into when I`m feeling good. Weird, I guess." (Here)

He died of a gunshot wound to the head, February 8th, 1990, ruled as suicide.

Born 30 December 1934 in Grand Rapids Michigan, at 3:30 AM (Astrodatabank).

Del, like Bo, had Sun and Mercury in Capricorn but with an additional dose of serious Capricorn from Venus. Venus is in harmonious sextile to Jupiter the publication planet, helpful for bringing his music to the public. Venus is also in a second harmonious trine to planet of creativity, Neptune. However, Sun and Mercury are in challenging square to Mars, and this square isn't the only challenge in Del's natal chart. There's Grand Cross configuration made up of square and opposition aspects between Moon/Pluto/Uranus/Venus, which tells of constant inner conflict. A more helpful, Airy, aspect between his Sun's ruler Saturn in Aquarius and Moon in easy-going Libra provided some balance to his inner challenges.

On the day his took his own life, by shooting himself in the head, this was how transiting planets lined up around his natal Sun, Mercury and Venus. (Outer segment = transits, inner segment = natal positions). Transiting Mars (relates to explosions) conjunct Uranus (the unexpected) at the exact degree of his natal Sun/Mercury. Transiting Saturn, planet of limitation conjunct transiting Venus were close to the degree of his natal Venus, planet of music - symbolising the end (limitation) of his art.


Laura said...

This really is so interesting to read as you are correct when you say that their personalities could not be more different.

anthonynorth said...

Two very different musicians, but both good. Hope you're looking forward to the New Year.

Twilight said...

Laura ~~ Thanks - yes, and a good example of why it's important to look well beyond our Sun signs.

Twilight said...

anthonynorth ~ Well, AN, it'll come whether we look forward to it or not, so we might as well welcome it, then bash it into the shape we'd most like to see. ;-)