59 Facts About Bo Diddley


Ellas Otha Bates McDaniel, known professionally as Bo Diddley, was an American guitarist and singer who played a key role in the transition from the blues to rock and roll.


Bo Diddley influenced many artists, including Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, George Thorogood, Syd Barrett, and The Clash.


Bo Diddley's use of African rhythms and a signature beat, a simple five-accent hambone rhythm, is a cornerstone of hip hop, rock, and pop music.


Bo Diddley received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.


Bo Diddley was born in McComb, Mississippi, as Ellas Otha Bates.


Bo Diddley was the only child of Ethel Wilson, a sharecropper's teenaged daughter, and Eugene Bates, whom he never knew.


Bo Diddley denied ever having the name "Otha" in a 2001 interview, saying "I don't know where they got that 'Otha' from", but his web site, maintained by his estate, confirms it as his middle name.


Bo Diddley was an active member of Chicago's Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, where he studied the trombone and the violin, becoming so proficient on the violin that the musical director invited him to join the orchestra, in which he played until he was 18.


Bo Diddley said he thought that the trance-like rhythm he used in his rhythm and blues music came from the Sanctified churches he had attended as a youth in his Chicago neighborhood.


Bo Diddley said that the name first belonged to a singer his adoptive mother knew.


On November 20,1955, Bo Diddley appeared on the popular television program The Ed Sullivan Show.


Chess Records included Diddley's cover of "Sixteen Tons" on the 1963 album Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger.


Bo Diddley released numerous albums, including Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger and Have Guitar, Will Travel.


The cover of Surfin' with Bo Diddley had a photograph of two surfers riding a big wave.


In 1963, Bo Diddley starred in a UK concert tour with the Everly Brothers and Little Richard along with the Rolling Stones.


Bo Diddley wrote "Mama ", which was a minor hit for the pioneering rockabilly singer Jo Ann Campbell, who performed the song in the 1959 rock and roll film Go Johnny Go.


Bo Diddley produced and recorded several up-and-coming groups from the Washington, DC area.


The Marquees appeared in talent shows at the Lincoln Theatre, and Bo Diddley, impressed by their smooth vocal delivery, let them rehearse in his studio.


Bo Diddley got the Marquees signed to Columbia subsidiary label OKeh Records after unsuccessfully attempting to get them a contract with his own label, Chess.


On September 25,1957, Bo Diddley drove the group to New York City to record "Wyatt Earp", a novelty song written by Reese Palmer, lead singer of the Marquees.


Bo Diddley produced the session, with the group backed by his own band.


Bo Diddley persuaded Moonglows founder and backing vocalist Harvey Fuqua to hire Gaye.


Bo Diddley spent some years in New Mexico, living in Los Lunas from 1971 to 1978, while continuing his musical career.


Bo Diddley served for two and a half years as a deputy sheriff in the Valencia County Citizens' Patrol; during that time he purchased and donated three highway-patrol pursuit cars.


Bo Diddley appeared in George Thorogood's music video for the song "Bad to the Bone," portraying a guitar-slinging pool shark.


Bo Diddley felt that Nike should not continue to use the slogan or his likeness and fought Nike over the copyright infringement.


Bo Diddley played a blues and rock musician named Axman in the 1990 comedy film Rockula, directed by Luca Bercovici and starring Dean Cameron.


Bo Diddley performed a number of shows around the country in 2005 and 2006, with fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Johnnie Johnson and his band, consisting of Johnson on keyboards, Richard Hunt on drums and Gus Thornton on bass.


Bo Diddley sold the rights to his songs early on, and until 1989 he received no royalties from the most successful part of his career.


Bo Diddley contributed guitar work to the song "Seventeen", which was included as a bonus track on the limited-edition version of the disc.


In May 2007, Bo Diddley suffered a stroke after a concert the previous day in Council Bluffs, Iowa.


Bo Diddley married his second wife Ethel Mae Smith in 1949; they had two children.


Bo Diddley met his third wife, Kay Reynolds, when she was 15, while performing in Birmingham, Alabama.


Bo Diddley married his fourth wife, Sylvia Paiz, in 1992; they were divorced at the time of his death.


On May 13,2007, Bo Diddley was admitted to intensive care in Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, following a stroke after a concert the previous day in Council Bluffs, Iowa.


Bo Diddley referred to smoke from the wildfires that were ravaging south Georgia and blowing south to the area near his home in Archer, Florida.


Bo Diddley had a history of hypertension and diabetes, and the stroke affected the left side of his brain, causing receptive and expressive aphasia.


Bo Diddley died on June 2,2008, of heart failure at his home in Archer, Florida at the age of 79.


Bo Diddley was survived by his children, Evelyn Kelly, Ellas A McDaniel, Pamela Jacobs, Steven Jones, Terri Lynn McDaniel-Hines, and Tammi D McDaniel; a brother, the Rev Kenneth Haynes; and eighteen grandchildren, fifteen great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.


Bo Diddley remembered Diddley at the concerts, performing his namesake tune.


In 2019, members of Bo Diddley's family sued to regain control of the music catalog held in trust by attorney Charles Littell.


Bo Diddley was posthumously awarded a Doctor of Fine Arts degree by the University of Florida for his influence on American popular music.


Bo Diddley achieved numerous accolades in recognition of his significant role as one of the founding fathers of rock and roll.


Also in 2004, Bo Diddley was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Blues Hall of Fame and was ranked number 20 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.


In 2005, Bo Diddley celebrated his 50th anniversary in music with successful tours of Australia and Europe and with coast-to-coast shows across North America.


Bo Diddley performed his song "Bo Diddley" with Eric Clapton and Robbie Robertson at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 20th annual induction ceremony.


Bo Diddley was honored by the Mississippi Blues Commission with a Mississippi Blues Trail historic marker placed in McComb, his birthplace, in recognition of his enormous contribution to the development of the blues in Mississippi.


The plaza was the site of a benefit concert at which Bo Diddley performed to raise awareness about the plight of the homeless in Alachua County and to raise money for local charities, including the Red Cross.


The "Bo Diddley beat" is essentially the clave rhythm, one of the most common bell patterns found in sub-Saharan African music traditions.


Bo Diddley gave different accounts of how he began to use this rhythm.


Somewhat resembling the "shave and a haircut, two bits" rhythm, Bo Diddley came across it while trying to play Gene Autry's " Jingle, Jangle, Jingle".


In 1944, "Rum and Coca Cola", containing the Bo Diddley beat, was recorded by the Andrews Sisters.


An influential guitar player, Bo Diddley developed many special effects and other innovations in tone and attack, particularly the "shimmering" tremolo sound, and amp reverb.


Bo Diddley had other uniquely shaped guitars custom-made for him by other manufacturers throughout the years, most notably the "Cadillac" and the rectangular "Turbo 5-speed" designs, made by Tom Holmes.


Bo Diddley then went about designing a smaller, less-restrictive guitar that allowed him to keep jumping around on stage while still playing his guitar.


Bo Diddley played the violin, which is featured on his mournful instrumental "The Clock Strikes Twelve", a twelve-bar blues.


Bo Diddley often created lyrics as witty and humorous adaptations of folk music themes.


Bo Diddley's first hit, "Bo Diddley", was based on hambone rhymes.


The first line of his song "Hey Bo Diddley" is derived from the nursery rhyme "Old MacDonald".