He invented his name, his guitar
& a beat that changed music forever.
LET THERE BE ROCK'N'ROLL
THE MAN THAT CREATED A GENRE, with THE MUSIC that INSPIRED GENERATIONS
Bo Diddley “The Originator” (December 30, 1928 - June 2, 2008), born Ellas Otha Bates, was an original and influential American rock & roll singer, guitarist and songwriter. He was known as "The Originator" because of the key role in the transition from blues music to rock & roll, influencing a host of legendary acts including Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones to name a few. He introduced more insistent, driving rhythms and hard-edged guitar sound on a wide-ranging catalog of songs. Diddley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and a Grammy Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. He was also an influential guitar player who invented many special effects and other innovations in tone and attack. Diddley's trademark instrument was the rectangular-bodied Gretsch guitar, nicknamed "The Twang Machine," a guitar that he developed himself around 1958 and wielded in thousands of concerts over the years. He later had other similar-shaped guitars custom-made for him by other manufacturers. He also played the violin, which is featured on his mournful instrumental "The Clock Strikes Twelve," a 12-bar blues.
Diddley started playing the guitar after hearing bluesman John Lee Hooker in Chicago. In 1951, he landed a regular spot at the 708 Club on Chicago's South Side, with a repertoire influenced by John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and band leader Louis Jordan.
In late 1954, he teamed up with harmonica player Billy Boy Arnold, drummer Clifton James, and bass player Roosevelt Jackson to record demos of “I'm A Man" and "Bo Diddley" with a backing ensemble comprised by Otis Spann (piano), Lester Davenport (harmonica), Frank Kirkland (drums), and Jerome Green (maracas). They then re-recorded the songs at Chess Studios. The record was released in March of 1955, the a-side, "Bo Diddley," becoming an R&B number-one hit. Following the hit, The Ed Sullivan Show booked Diddley to play live. Sullivan asked him to sing Tennessee Ernie Ford’s country smash “Sixteen Tons”; instead, the young star unleashed the guitar maelstrom that introduced him to the world, and whose title bore his name: “Bo Diddley.”
He invented his name, his guitar & a beat that changed music forever. - Rolling Stone
Throughout the 1950s and 1960, Diddley became a musical force with albums like Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger and Have Guitar, Will Travel. Bo Diddley is best known for the "Bo Diddley beat," a driving, rumba-like beat. Although the beat conjures feelings of Africa and the Caribbean, Diddley reportedly invented it while trying to play Gene Autry's "(I've Got Spurs That) Jingle, Jangle, Jingle." The Bo Diddley beat was used by many other artists in the 1950s and 1960s, notably Buddy Holly ("Not Fade Away"); Johnny Otis ("Willie and the Hand Jive"); Elvis Presley ("His Latest Flame"); Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders ("The Game of Love"); Jefferson Airplane ("She Has Funny Cars"); George Michael ("Faith"); and others. The early The Rolling Stones sound featured several uses of the Bo-Diddley beat on songs such as "Not Fade Away" and "I Need You Baby (Mona)." Buddy Holly's own cover version of "Bo Diddley" provided him with a top-ten posthumous hit in the UK in 1963. Diddley had several additional hits through the late 1950s and the 1960s, including "Pretty Thing" (1956), "Say Man" (1959), and "You Can't Judge a Book By the Cover" (1962). He released a string of albums whose titles—including Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger and Have Guitar, Will Travel—that bolstered his self-invented legend. Between 1958 and 1963, Checker Records released 11 full-length albums by Bo Diddley.
Diddley was a breakthrough crossover artist with white audiences, appearing on the Alan Freed concerts and popular television shows. However, he rarely tailored his compositions or performances to teenage concerns. His live shows—unlike those of Chuck Berry, for example—were oriented toward adult black night clubs until his later career of playing oldies shows. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
In his later years, Diddley continued to perform, conducting a world tour in 2005 to celebrate 50 years in music. In 2005, Bo Diddley celebrated his fiftieth anniversary in music with successful tours of Australia and Europe, and with coast-to-coast shows across North America. He performed his song "Bo Diddley" with Eric Clapton and Robbie Robertson at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's twentieth annual induction ceremony and in the UK, Uncut magazine included his 1958 debut album "Bo Diddley" in its listing of the "100 Music, Movie & TV Moments That Have Changed The World."