Rock pioneer Bo Diddley dies at 79

Who Do We Love? Bo Diddley!
Who Do We Love? Bo Diddley!

It is with tremendous sadness that MusicRadar reports the passing of rock 'n' roll pioneer Bo Diddley, who succumbed to heart failure at his home in Archer, Florida.

All too often, the term "legend" is thrown around willy-nilly, but in Diddley's case, the word most definitely applies. With his rectangular guitar, black hat and dark glasses, Diddley (born Ellas Bates on Dec. 30, 1928, in McComb, Missouri) cut an image that would inspire many in the rock world, but it was his unique, minimalist guitar playing, indelible African rhythms and inventive songwriting that would influence artists such as Buddy Holly, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones - even Bruce Springsteen, with his jungle beat-flavored She's The One, owes a debt of gratitude to Diddley.

The larger-than-life singer and performer was an inductee into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, had a star on Hollywood's Walk Of Fame, and received a lifetime achievement award in 1999 at the Grammy Awards.

Diddley appreciated the honors he received, "but it didn't put no figures in my checkbook," he quipped. "If you ain't got no money, ain't nobody calls you honey," he quipped.

His first single, Bo Diddley, introduced record buyers in 1955 to his signature rhythm: bomp ba-bomp bomp, bomp bomp, often summarized as "shave and a haircut, two bits." The B side, I'm A Man, with its slightly humorous take on macho pride, also became a rock standard. Many more hits, such as Who Do You Love? followed, and were covered by numerous rock and R&B artists.

Throughout the years, Diddley remained a touring presence, and turned in dozens of cameo appearances in videos that needed a touch of authentic cool (such as George Thorogood's Diddley homage, Bad To The Bone). that needed a touch of Diddley cool.

Despite his visibility, one question remained unanswered: the origins of Diddley's name. The guitarist said that the moniker came from other youngsters when he was growing up in Chicago. "I don't know where the kids got it, but the kids in grammar school gave me that name," he said. Other times, he gave somewhat differing stories. Some experts believe a possible source for the name is a one-string instrument used in traditional blues music called a diddley bow.

Whatever the case, he was the real deal, and he will be missed.

By Joe Bosso


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