Peggy Jones (1940-2015), known as Lady Bo on stage, helped originate the archetype of the female rock guitar player. Born in Harlem, New York City, Peggy grew up performing while attending the High School of Performing Arts. In school she was completely engrossed in music and rhythm, studying ballet, tap, and opera. Outside of the classroom, Jones bought herself her first guitar at age 15 and joined a local doo-wop group for a brief stint. After a chance encounter with Bo Diddley backstage at the Apollo, he invited her to join his band as his guitarist and singer. She began recording with him in 1957 and appeared on many Bo Diddley albums and singles, including the intricate yet catchy song “Aztec” which Peggy wrote and played every guitar part for. Though she went by “Lady Bo” when performing, Jones maintained her independence as an artist after leaving Bo Diddley’s band in 1961. She shifted her attention to her band, The Jewels, and continued to record and perform solo.
In 1968, Peggy married Bo’s bassist, Wally Malone and moved to Boulder Creek a decade later. Despite moving away from the big city, she remained active within the music scene for many years, returning to accompany Bo occasionally and guest-starring on recordings with James Brown and The Animals. Peggy’s visibility as a Black, female, rock guitar player blazed a trail for many popular Artists of Color today and inspired instrumentalists worldwide.