Rock 'N' Roll Legend Bo Diddly Dies

3rd Jun 2008 | 08:55

Bo Diddley, one of the founding fathers of rock 'n' roll whose distinctive rhythm and innovative guitar effects inspired legions, has died aged 79.

Bo Diddley, one of the founding fathers of rock 'n' roll whose distinctive rhythm and innovative guitar effects inspired legions, has died aged 79.


The legendary singer and performer, known for his homemade square guitar, dark glasses and black hat, died of heart failure at his Florida home. He had a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, and received a lifetime achievement award in 1999 at the Grammy Awards.


The name Bo Diddley came from other youngsters when he was growing up in Chicago - some say a possible source for the name is a one-string instrument used in traditional blues music called a diddley bow.


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."


Diddley was also one of the pioneers of the electric guitar, adding reverb and tremelo effects. He even rigged some of his guitars himself.


Many other artists, including the Who, Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello copied aspects of Diddley's style.


Diddley was paid a flat fee for his recordings and said he received no royalty payments on record sales. He also said he was never paid for many of his performances.


"I am owed. I've never got paid," he said. "A dude with a pencil is worse than a cat with a machine gun."


Born Ellas Bates on 30th Dec 1928 in Mississippi, Diddley was later adopted by his mother's cousin and took on the name Ellis McDaniel, which his wife always called him. When he was 5, his family moved to Chicago, where he learned guitar at 10 and entertained passers-by on street corners.

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