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from the dirt poor streets of Mississippi to inspiring the world

HISTORY OF BO DIDDLEY

American singer, songwriter, music producer, and guitarist Bo Diddley was one of the greatest influences in the founding of rock and roll, known as “The Originator”. His influence was reflected in artists like Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton. Mick Jagger called Bo Diddley a big influence on the Rolling Stones, describing him as a "one-of-a-kind musician". Known for his use of African rhythms and a five-accent hambone rhythm, Bo Diddley changed the course of hip hop, pop, and rock music as we know it today. His rectangular guitar is a known icon worldwide.

1 DEcember 30 1928 - A STAR WAS BORN

Bo Diddley was born on December 30, 1928 in McComb, Mississippi. His family moved to the primarily Black area of Chicago’s South Side in 1934, where he learned the violin and trombone and was invited to perform in his church's orchestra. His interest in the guitar came from his captivation with and desire to learn the more rhythmic music he heard at the local Pentecostal church. This mission began the Bo Diddley legacy.

Hard times came easy on the streets of Mississippi.

Barbershop

1928-1940

1940-1950

2AFRICAN RYTHMS RUN DEEP

2 During the day, Bo Diddley spent his time as a carpenter and mechanic, playing at night on street corners with the Langley Avenue Jive Cats, a band with his friends. In the long summer days of 1943 and 1944, he played at the Maxwell Street market with Earl Hooker. He is widely known for his "Bo Diddley beat", a distinctive rhythm of bell patterns typically found in sub-Saharan African music traditions. His beat went on to be used by many artists for years to come, including Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away".  

Bo Diddley pisses off Ed Sullivan

Bo Diddley began to regularly pack Chicago’s South Side 708 Club with fans. In 1954 he formed his first recording band with Billy Boy Arnold (harmonica), Clifton James (drums), and Roosevelt Jackson (bass). In 1955, the group released "I'm a Man" and his #1 R&B hit, "Bo Diddley". Bo Diddley performed on The Ed Sullivan Show, where setlist confusion led him to mistakenly play his hit song for thousands of viewers. Ed Sullivan was furious and banned Bo Diddley from the show, but that performance solidified him as a legend of rock and roll. From there, he went on to release even more hit singles such as "Pretty Thing" and "Say Man".

1950-1960

1960-1970

4 ELVIS STEALS BO DIDDLEY'S SWAGGER

In the 1960s, Bo Diddley began performing at Alan Freed concerts, expanding his influence to white audiences. He rocked performances alongside the Everly Brothers, Little Richard, and the Rolling Stones for a UK tour in 1963. To have more creative freedom, Bo Diddley built his first home recording studio where he produced "Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger" and launched the career of Marvin Gaye. Bo Diddley even inspired the performing style of Elvis Presley, who adopted his sensational dancing after watching a Bo Diddley performance.