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 Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, and Bruce Springsteen.
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.