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Bo Diddley, with his infectious rhythms and strong guitar work, was one of the early pioneers of rock and roll music.
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Singer, songwriter, musician and rock pioneer. Bo Diddley was born Ellas Bates (some reports say Otha Ellas Bates) on December 30, 1928, in McComb, Mississippi.
Bo Diddley, with his infectious rhythms and strong guitar work, was one of the early pioneers of rock and roll music. At a young age, he was sent to live with one of her cousins, Gussie McDaniel, in Chicago.
McDaniel adopted him and he took her last name. For years, he studied violin. Then after hearing the music of blues legend John Lee Hooker, he switched to the guitar. Diddley attended vocational school for a time, learning how to make violins and guitars. But he eventually dropped out.
After working odd jobs and playing on street corners, Diddley started getting gigs at neighbor bars in Chicago. In 1955, he scored a recording contract with Checker, a subsidiary of the well-known blues label Chess Records. That year he scored his first rhythm and blues (R&B) hit with the self-titled single "Bo Diddley" and its B-side "I'm a Man." Diddley then reached the top 40 charts with "Pretty Things" in 1956. Other famous songs include "Who Do You Love," "Mona," and "Before You Accuse Me."
Appearing on television, touring, and recording new material, Diddley remained popular until the mid-1960s. As rock and roll tastes changed, he started producing few albums, which weren't met with the same enthusiasm as earlier efforts. Still he remained a powerful live performer who toured heavily. A 1979 tour with the punk rock group, The Clash, introduced Diddley to new audiences.
In 1987, Diddley was recognized for his role as a pioneering force in music by being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. More recently, he won a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Awards in 1996. That same year, he released his last studio album, Man Amongst Men, which was warmly received by critics.
Sometimes called "The Originator," Diddley has inspired countless acts that have followed in his musical footsteps, including Buddy Holly, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, the Who, and the Doors.
Diddley died of heart failure June 2, 2008, at his home in Archer, Florida.
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