Bo Diddley

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Bo Diddley's emphasis on rhythm largely influenced popular music, especially that of rock and roll in the 1960s.

Bo Diddley (born December 30, 1928), "The Originator", is an influential American blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He is often cited as a key figure in the transion of blues into rock and roll, by intoducing more insistent, driving rhythms and a harder-edged guitar sound.

He was born Ellas Bates and later took the name Ellas McDaniel, after his adoptive mother, Gussie McDaniel. He adopted the stage name Bo Diddley, which is probably a southern black slang phrase meaning "nothing at all", as in "he ain't bo diddley". Another source says it was his nickname as a Golden Gloves boxer.

He was given a guitar by his sister as a youth, but also took violin lessons. He was inspired to become a blues artist by seeing John Lee Hooker.

He is best known for the "Bo Diddley beat", a rhumba-based beat (see clave) also influenced by what is known as "hambone", a style used by street performers who play out the beat by slapping and patting their arms, legs, chest, and cheeks while chanting rhymes. The Bo Diddley beat is often illustrated with the phrase: "shave 'n' a haircut - two bits".

The beat has been used by many other artists, notable Johnny Otis on "Willie and the Hand Jive", which is more about hambone than it is a direct copy of Bo Diddley, U2's "Desire", and Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" as well as more obscure numbers such as "Callin' All Cows" by the Blues Rockers.

Bo Diddley used a variety of rhythms, however, from straight back beat to pop ballad style, frequently with maracas by Jerome Green. He was also an influential guitar player, with many special effects and other innovations in tone and attack. He also plays the violin, which is featured on his mournful instrumental "The Clock Strikes Twelve".

Rhythm is so important in Bo Diddley's music that harmony is often reduced to a bare minimum. His songs (for example "Hey Bo Diddley" and "Who Do You Love?") often have no chord changes; that is, they are not written in a musical key, and the musicians play and sing in the same chord throughout the piece.

His own songs have been frequently covered. The Animals recorded "The Story of Bo Diddley", The Yardbirds covered "I'm a Man", and both the Woolies and George Thorogood had hits with "Who Do You Love", also a concert favorite of The Doors. His "Road Runner" was also frequently covered. ("Say Man" was his only Top 40 hit.) The Jesus and Mary chain also recorded a tribute song "Bo Diddley is Jesus".

Although Bo Diddley was a breakthrough crossover artist with white audiences, appearing on the Alan Freed concerts, for instance, he rarely tailored his compositions to teenaged concerns. The most notable exception is probably his album Surfin' With Bo Diddley, which featured "Surfer's Love Call", and while Bo may never have hung ten in his baggies to catch the big wave, he was definitely an influence on surf guitar players.

His lyrics are often witty and humorous adaptations of folk music themes. His first hit, "Bo Diddley" was based on the lullaby "Hush Little Baby". Likewise, "Hey Bo Diddley" is based on the folk song, "Old Macdonald". The rap-style boasting of "Who Do You Love", a wordplay on hoodoo, used many striking lyrics from the African-American tradition of toasts and boasts. His "Say Man" and "Say Man, Back Again" have been connected with rap, but actually feature the insults known as the Dirty Dozens: "You look like you been in a hatchet fight and everybody had a hatchet except you."

In addition to the many songs identified with him, he wrote the pioneering pop tune "Love Is Strange" for Mickey and Sylvia under a pseudonym.

External links

His trademark instrument was the square-bodied guitar that he developed and wielded in thousands of concerts over the years--from sweaty Chicago clubs to rock and roll oldies tours and even as an opening act for The Clash and a guest for the Rolling Stones.

de:Bo Diddley pl:Bo Diddley sv:Bo Diddley


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