Lafayette Barbecue Guru’s Past as Hazy as His Smoke Pit

The sketch of semi-mythical East Bay barbecue icon William “Bo” McSwine by CoCo Times reporter James Temple’s whets our appetite for more. The 58-year-old proprietor of Bo’s Barbecue, a Cal grad student in the early 1970s, has a past that mixes social activism, a love for jazz, and smoked Niman Ranch meats. Even McSwine seems hazy about the exact details of his history — no doubt something he shares with others kicking around Telegraph Avenue in the early ’70s.

The only thing Temple doesn’t seem to press McSwine about is also the most obvious: his name, arguably the most implausibly perfect barbecue handle of all time. When did the smiling, bandanna-wearing pit master morph into Bo McSwine?

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