Diddley, Bo


Diddley, Bo
▪ 2009
Otha Ellas Bates; Ellas McDaniel 
      American singer, songwriter, and guitarist

born Dec. 30, 1928, McComb, Miss.

died June 2, 2008, Archer, Fla.
was one of the most influential performers of rock music's early period. Raised mostly in Chicago by his adoptive family, from whom he took the surname McDaniel, he recorded for the legendary blues label Chess Records as Bo Diddley (a name most likely derived from the diddley bow, a one-stringed African guitar popular in the Mississippi Delta region). Despite scoring few major hits, he was nevertheless one of rock's most innovative artists because he had developed his own beat: chink-a-chink-chink, ca-chink-chink. That syncopated beat (also known as “hambone” or “shave-and-a-haircut-two-bits”) had surfaced in a few big-band rhythm-and-blues charts of the 1940s, but Diddley stripped it down and beefed it up. He made it, with its obvious African roots, one of the irresistible dance sounds in rock and roll. It was appropriated by fellow 1950s rockers (Johnny Otis's “Willie and the Hand Jive” [1958]), 1960s garage bands (the Strangeloves' “I Want Candy” [1965]), and budding superstars (the Rolling Stones' version of Buddy Holly's Diddley-influenced “Not Fade Away” [1964]). Diddley's own songs hit the pop charts just five times and the Top 20 only once (even though his 1955 debut single, “Bo Diddley,” backed with “I'm a Man,” was number one on the rhythm-and-blues charts). In 1987 Diddley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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▪ American musician
Introduction
original name  Ellas Bates , later  Ellas McDaniel 
born Dec. 30, 1928, McComb, Miss., U.S.
died June 2, 2008, Archer, Fla.
 American singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the most influential performers of rock music's early period.

      Raised mostly in Chicago by his adoptive family, from whom he took the surname McDaniel, he recorded for the legendary blues record company Chess as Bo Diddley (a name most likely derived from the diddley bow, a one-stringed African guitar popular in the Mississippi Delta region). Diddley scored few hit records but was one of rock's most influential artists nonetheless, because he had something nobody else could claim, his own beat: chink-a-chink-chink, ca-chink-chink. That syncopated beat (also known as “hambone” or “shave-and-a-haircut—two-bits”) had surfaced in a few big-band rhythm-and-blues (rhythm and blues) charts of the 1940s, but Diddley stripped it down and beefed it up. He made it, with its obvious African roots, one of the irresistible dance sounds in rock and roll. It was appropriated by fellow 1950s rockers (Johnny Otis (Otis, Johnny)'s “Willie and the Hand Jive” [1958]), 1960s garage bands (the Strangeloves' “I Want Candy” [1965]), and budding superstars (the Rolling Stones (Rolling Stones, the)' version of Buddy Holly (Holly, Buddy)'s Diddley-influenced “Not Fade Away” [1964]). For all that, Diddley hit the pop charts just five times and the Top 20 only once (even though his 1955 debut single, “Bo Diddley,” backed with “I'm a Man,” was number one on the rhythm-and-blues charts).

      After playing for several years on Chicago's legendary Maxwell Street, Diddley signed with Chess subsidiary Checker in 1955. The lyrics to his songs were rife with African-American street talk, bluesy imagery, and raunchy humour (e.g., “Who Do You Love” [1957]). He used tremolo, fuzz, and feedback effects to create a guitar sound on which only Jimi Hendrix (Hendrix, Jimi) has expanded (consider sonic outbursts like “Bo Diddley”). His stage shows—featuring his half sister the Duchess on vocals and rhythm guitar and Jerome Green on bass and maracas—made an art out of bad taste. Commonly dressed in a huge black Stetson and loud shirts, Diddley no doubt influenced the dress of British Invasion groups such as the Rolling Stones. The odd-shaped guitars that he played reinforced his arresting look.

      In the 1960s he recorded everything from surf (surf music) music to straight-ahead blues with equal aplomb. But his last conquest was the sublime “You Can't Judge a Book by the Cover” (1962), until the British Invasion put him back on the map long enough for a minor 1967 hit, “Ooh Baby.” Always outspoken about how black musicians have been underpaid, he toured only sporadically after the 1970s, appeared in a few movies, and made occasional albums. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

John Morthland

Representative Works

Go Bo Diddley (1958)
Bo Diddley (1962)
Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger (1963)
Bo Diddley's Beach Party (1963)

Additional Reading
George R. White, Bo Diddley, Living Legend (1995), provides a good biographical overview and is complemented by his The Complete Bo Diddley Sessions (1993). Michael Lydon, “Bo Diddley,” in his Boogie Lightning (1974, reprinted 1980), pp. 51–78, offers a fan's enthusiasm, a historian's thoroughness, and a critic's insight. Andy McKaie, Robert Palmer, and Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley: The Chess Box (1990), the booklet that accompanies this box set, is a collaboration between compiler McKaie, blues scholar Palmer, and Diddley.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Diddley — Bo Diddley (* 30. Dezember 1928 in McComb, Mississippi; † 2. Juni 2008 in Archer, Florida) war ein US amerikanischer Rock n Roll und Bluesmusiker. Diddley gilt wegen der Erfindung seines synkopischen 4/4 Beats [1] als ein Pionier des Rock n Roll …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Diddley — n. family name; Bo Diddley (born 1928 as Elias McDaniel), African American guitar player and singer who influenced later rock musicians …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Diddley — /did lee/, n. Bo /boh/, (Elias McDaniel), born 1928, U.S. rock n roll singer, guitarist, and composer. * * * …   Universalium

  • Diddley — /ˈdɪdli/ (say didlee) noun Bo (born Otha Ellis Bates, later Ellas McDaniel), 1928–2008, US rhythm and blues guitarist, singer and composer; influential rock n roll musician …   Australian English dictionary

  • diddley — noun a small worthless amount you don t know jack • Syn: ↑jack, ↑doodly squat, ↑diddly squat, ↑diddlysquat, ↑diddly shit, ↑diddlyshit, ↑diddly, ↑squat, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Diddley Daddy — Single by Bo Diddley B side She s Fine, She s Mine Released June 195 …   Wikipedia

  • Diddley bow — The diddley bow is a string instrument of African origin made popular in America, probably developed from instruments found on the Ghana coast of west Africa. The diddley bow is rarely heard outside the rural south. Other nicknames for this… …   Wikipedia

  • Bo Diddley — ➡ Diddley * * * …   Universalium

  • Bo Diddley — à Prague en 2005. Nom Ellas Otha Bates McDaniel Naissance …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Bo Diddley — This article is about the singer. For the album, see Bo Diddley (album). For the song, see Bo Diddley (song). Bo Diddley Background information Birth name …   Wikipedia


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