This just in:
One of the founding fathers of rock ’n’ roll has left the building he
helped construct. Bo Diddley, aged 79, died of heart failure today at
his home in Archer, Fl where he resided for over 20 years.
With Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino and Jerry
Lee Lewis, Diddley (born Ellas Otha Bates) was one of music’s
principal architects in the mid-1950s. The guitarist-singer-songwriter
scored major pop hits with “Bo Diddley” and “I’m a Man” in 1955 and
“Say Man” (1959) and made an almost incalculable impact on rock from
the Fifties onward. His music influenced artists working in such
disparate styles as rockabilly, British Invasion pop, surf,
psychedelic, hip-hop and punk rock.
Diddley is most often cited for his signature “Bo Diddley beat,” a
syncopated 5/4 pattern similar to the West African-derived “hambone”
rhythm or “Shave and a haircut two-bits” couplet. Over the years,
Diddley variously claimed to have adapted the beat from music he heard
in church, from trying to play the Gene Autry song “Jingle Jangle” and
from attempting to play his guitar like a drum. Whatever its origins,
the taut, rumba-like beat has powered literally hundreds of rock and
pop records, everything from Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” and the
Who’s “Magic Bus” to Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” George Michael’s
“Faith” and Bruce Springsteen’s “She’s the One.” A half dozen key
Diddley compositions have held down prized spots in the repertoire of
thousands of performing artists for decades.
Bo Diddley, a founding father of rock ‘n’ roll whose distinctive “shave and a haircut, two bits” rhythm and innovative guitar effects inspired legions of other musicians, died Monday after months of ill health. He was 79.
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Diddley died of heart failure at his home in Archer, Fla., spokeswoman Susan Clary said. He had suffered a heart attack in August, three months after suffering a stroke while touring in Iowa. Doctors said the stroke affected his ability to speak, and he had returned to Florida to continue rehabilitation.
The legendary singer and performer, known for his homemade square guitar, dark glasses and black hat, was an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, had a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, and received a lifetime achievement award in 1999 at the Grammy Awards. In recent years he also played for the elder President Bush and President Clinton.
Diddley appreciated the honors he received, “but it didn’t put no figures in my checkbook.”
“If you ain’t got no money, ain’t nobody calls you honey,” he quipped.