Monday, June 2, 2008

Bo Diddley 1928-2008

Bo Diddley whose "Bo Diddley Beat" influenced musicians from Buddy Holly to the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead and Bruce Springsteen, has died at the age of 79 of heart failure at his home in Archer, Florida.

Bo Diddley was born Ellas Bates. He had his name changed to Ellas McDaniels when he was adoptedbut took his stage name from a one-stringed Deep South instrument, the Diddley Bow.

In a career spanning more than fifty years, Diddley's R&B compositions became standards of Rock and Roll;"Who Do You Love," "Bo Diddley," "Bo Diddley's a Gunslinger," "Before You Accuse Me," "I'm a Man " "Pretty Thing " and "Mona" .

He cranked them out his rectangular guitar, setting many of them to the rumba-like rhythm of his "Bo Diddley beat". He and his contemporaries Chuck Berry and Little Richard where among a pioneering group of black recording artists who crossed the American racial divide with music that was emulated by white performers. He found fame in the mid-1950s with his signature song "Bo Diddley" with its tremolo guitar, maracas and unique beat.
Although Diddley recorded relatively few hits, his importance in the early years of rock and roll was acknowledged by his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 .

Diddley frequently complained about not being paid royalties during his peak years, telling the New York Times, "Have I been ripped off? ... You bet I've been ripped off."