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Bo Diddley

Bo Diddley is recognized as one of the first and most influential rock guitarist and musicians. He was born in Pike County, Mississippi, on December 20, 1928. His birth name was Otha Ellas Bates. In 1934 his mother sent him to live with his cousin, Guisse McDaniel in Chicago. Later Otha changed his name to Ellas McDaniel Diddley. At the age of ten he became very interested in music. He began studying the violin and guitar at Foster High School . Bo was very active as a teenager and even took boxing lessons. He played violin for the Ebenezer Baptist Church Orchestra. Diddley played songs on street corners with his friend Jerome Green, and Diddley worked construction for extra money.

By October, 1954, Bo had a group. He had bought himself an electric guitar, and Bo's career had begun. He hooked up with Jerome Green t o record two of what became Diddley hits The two hits were put out on Checker and sky rocketed all the way to number two on national R and B charts. Bo Diddley also appeared on Ed Sullivan television shows. Bo's first records showed him to be far ahead of his time in guitar playing. After he hooked up with Billy "Boy" Arnold and was released from Chess Records, Bo changed his entire playing method. Bo Diddley had a string of hits through the early 1960's. After losing favor in the U.S., he became popular in England. Years later, his influence on the British rock scene continued as he was invited to perform with Clash.

Bo Diddley had many honors as a musician. In 1987 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Diddley's success heralded the beginning of the rock 'n roll craze. Not just blacks, but whites also found enjoyment in his music. Diddley was both a powerful singer and innovator who lived in Southern California for many years. .I'm an ordinary fellow," he has said. "But I have to be different in what I do...Because that's what keeps me in the music business." Today, according to Cort Chilldon of Gainesville, Florida, Bo Diddley lives in Archer, Florida. He says, " You [are] right about him being a normal guy. He is very down to earth and hates special treatment. I think that is why he live where he does."

Source: Carl Wilson


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"Bo Diddley is so cool, he's permafrost..." —Paul Gambaccini, BBC TV, 1998
Mike Felten
voice / vocals

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