Diddley, Bo

Diddley, Bo,

1928–2008, African-American singer, guitarist, and songwriter who was one of the founders of rock and roll, b. near McComb, Miss., as Otha Ellas Bates. He and his cousin, Gussie McDaniel, who raised him and whose last name he adopted, moved to Chicago when he was five. He studied violin, received his first guitar in 1940, and acquired the nickname "Bo Diddley." Within a decade he was performing in South Side clubs, often playing the rectangular electric guitar he designed. Diddley became known for his pounding signature beat (bom ba-bom bom, bom bom; later an essential component of rock music) and for his guitar effects, jive talk, and strutting stage style. He reached a wider audience with the release (1955) of his first record, containing "Bo Diddley" and "I'm a Man." He had a number of other hits, but is perhaps most important for his powerful influence on generations of rockers, e.g., Chuck BerryBerry, Chuck
(Charles Edward Anderson Berry), 1926–2017, American rock music guitarist, singer, and songwriter, b. San Jose, Calif. Berry is widely regarded as one of the leading pioneers of rock music, having blended the blues with country music and added a
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, Little RichardLittle Richard,
1935–2020, American musician and singer, b. Macon, Ga., as Richard Wayne Penniman. One of the first rock musicians in the 1950s, he recorded such tunes as "Tutti Frutti," "Long Tall Sally," "Lucille," and "Good Golly Miss Molly," combining the shouts of
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, Buddy HollyHolly, Buddy,
1936–59, American rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist, b. Lubbock, Tex., as Charles Hardin Holley. He performed country and western music while a teenager, but influenced by black rhythm and blues and by Elvis Presley he switched to the rock 'n' roll in
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, Jimi HendrixHendrix, Jimi
(James Marshall Hendrix), 1942–70, African-American rock guitarist, b. Seattle, Wash. Hendrix, in his short musical career, was known for an innovative and extremely influential guitar style that involved the explosive, yet often sensitively nuanced, use of
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, the Rolling StonesRolling Stones,
English rock music group that rose to prominence in the mid-1960s and continues to exert great influence. Members have included singer Mick Jagger (Michael Phillip Jagger), 1943–; guitarists Brian Jones
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, and Bruce SpringsteenSpringsteen, Bruce Frederick,
1949–, American singer, guitarist, and songwriter, nicknamed "The Boss," b. Long Branch, N.J. Springsteen established himself as a singer and songwriter, as well as a stage showman, while playing in bands in cities along the shore of the NE
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See G. R. White, Bo Diddley: Living Legend (1998).

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Diddley, Bo (b. Otha Ellas McDaniel)

(1928–  ) musician; born in McComb, Miss. A guitarist, he was a street-corner gospel and blues singer before beginning his recording career in 1955 for Chess Records. He became one of the earliest black stars of rock 'n' roll, making numerous television appearances and touring widely through the mid-1960s. Although his popularity as a recording artist dipped thereafter, he remained a celebrated rock pioneer and concert artist and was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
In a career spanning more than five decades, Diddley composed a substantial body of rock classics, including Who Do You Love, Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley's a Gunslinger, Before You Accuse Me, Mona, I'm a Man and Pretty Thing.