Bo Diddley - The Originator

The Early Years

Using his musical talent, his famous Bo Diddley beat, and his songwriting skills. Bo Diddley will be remembered for his contribution as one of the fathers of Rock and Roll music.

Bo Diddley was born Ellas Otha Bates in McComb, Mississippi on December 30, 1928. He was raised by a cousin Gussie McDaniel. The family moved to Chicago in 1934 when he was very young; it was during this time his name was changed from Ellas Bates to Ellas McDaniel. From early on Ellas McDaniel showed an interest in music; while attend the local Baptist Church, he learned to play the trombone and violin; after learning to play the violin he joined the church orchestra. But McDaniel had something else in mind. Although he played in the church orchestra till he was eighteen, McDaniel became interested in the electric guitar after attending a church service at a local Pentecostal Church. Also, after seeing a performance by John Lee Hooker, young Ellas McDaniel was inspired even more to learn the guitar; thus McDaniel's interest in boxing and the violin begun to be secondary. While he was still in high school, Ellas formed his first band called the "Hipsters"; Also, in 1951 Ellas McDaniel managed to get a regular job playing at a local club on the south side of Chicago. In the latter part of 1954, he and a few friend recorded a demo of "I'm a Man" and "Bo Diddley". Later, at Chess Records the songs were re-recorded and in 1955 "Bo Diddley" was an Rhythm and Blues hit. It was at this time Ellas McDaniiel adopted the stage "Bo Diddley". One other important milestone reached by Bo Diddley in 1955 was his debut on national TV on the Ed Sullivan show. His singing/songwriting career was off to a good start; though out the 1950s and the 60s he continued to have a string of hits including "Pretty Thing" and "Say Man" ( both released in the 50's), In addition, "You Can't Judge a Book By the Cover" was released in in early 1960's; there were other albums released including "Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger" and "Have Guitar, Will Travel".

The Twang Machine

It was at this time in 1958 Bo Diddley's trademark instrument was made with his own hands.The rectangular-bodied "Twang Machine" was fashioned after Bo Diddley had an embarrassing moment during a concert. While jumping around on stage during a concert and holding a Gibson L5, he struck himself in the groan. After this happened he decided to make a guitar that was less restrictive. Although he had other guitars custom made by others he preferred to use the one he fashioned himself.

As the years go by

Later in 1963, and still somewhat unknown, he appeared as a supporting act at a concert with Little Richard, The Rolling Stones and the Everly Brothers; in 1964 "Two Great Guitars" was released it was a jam session between him and Chuck Berry. Around this time he was a regular at the Apollo Theatre and somtimes traveled with the Rock and Roll performers of the day In 1966 the album "The Originator" was released. In 1972 he played a concert with the Grateful Dead. From 1971 to 1978 he lived in New Mexico; during this time he continued to perform, but he also served as a deputy sheriff (on the citizen patrol). He left New Mexico and moved to Florida. He would spend the rest of his life in New Mexico or Florida. In the late 70's he appeared as the opening performance for group called "The Clash"; In 1991 he shared the stage with BB King, Les Paul and, Albert Collins and others during the Legends of Guitar concert. In 1994 he joined the Rolling Stones as a special guess on their Voodoo Lounge tour and in April 1996 " A Man Among Men" is released; his first album in many years. In the late 90's he had a couple of brief parts in two movies Trading places and Blues Brothers 2000.

Bo Diddley received various awards in recognition of his contribution as one of the founding fathers of rock and roll. some awards he received were as follows:

In 2005, Bo Diddley celebrated 50 years in the music business with tours of Australia and Europe; in North America he performed in many major cities with Eric Clapton and Robbie Robertson. In 2006 Bo Diddley participated in a grassroots fundraiser concert to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi.

Health Problems

On May 12, 2007 prior to a concert in Council Bluffs, Iowa Bo Diddley said he didn't feel well. Never-the-less he performed to an enthusiastic audience anyways. The next day, as he was heading home, he seemed confused and disoriented; while he was still in the airport, his manager called 911 and Bo Diddley was taken to Creighton University Medical Center. He was there for several days in Intensive Care Unit while various test were done on him. When the test results came in, it was found he had a stroke. The stroke affected the side of the brain controlling speech. Later in August 2007 Bo Diddley had a heart attack while in Gainsville, Florida. While recovering from the heart attack and stroke he had suffered earlier in the year, Diddley went to his home town of McComb, Mississippi in November 2007, for an unveiling of a plaque honoring him as a founder of Rock and Roll. Although he was not suppose to perform, he did anyways this was the last public performance of Bo Diddley


Death

Bo Diddley passed away on June 2, 2008 at his Florida home; He died with family around him. In his final hours Gospel music was sung to him; the name of the song was "Walk around Heaven" and Bo Diddley's last words were 'I'm going to heaven" In the days after his death he was honored by George W. Bush, The U.S. House of Representatives, BB King, Tom Petty, Bonnie Ratt, Jerry Lee Lewis, Mick Jagger (the Rolling Stones) and many other musicians and friends. Although he is gone, he will always be remembered as one of the founders of Rock and Roll who influenced so many musical artist.

More by this Author


Comments 29 comments

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago

I'd heard of Bo Diddley but I don't remember actually hearing him. Your Hub has made me a fan. Very cool and professional job. Another interesting musician of whom I've belatedly become a fan is Fats Domino.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Ralph Deeds - I understand what you mean. I myself am not old enough to remember this music, but i feel a connection to it. It is singing from the heart. I appreciate it a lot. I enjoy Fats Domino too I have one of his greatest hits CD's I really like his smooth New Orleans style music Thanks for stopping by


tobey100 profile image

tobey100 6 years ago from Whites Creek, Tennessee

Now you're in my territory. Love all the old guys going back to Muddy Waters. Great hub.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@tobey100 - thanks for your feedback


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago

I was more of a country (Hank Williams), folk (Dylan, Baez, Joni Mitchell),and jazz (Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington, Rosemary Clooney) fan than rock. But I did catch a wild Janis Joplin concert once. More recently I've become interested in blues.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

hummmm you sound like my kinda man.. I love Bob Dylan, Lena Horne, Sarah Vaughn and Janis Joplin(have some of their CD's) I love Blues music too; I have a few CD's such as Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, BB King and a 4 CD Robert Johnson set I have yet to listen too completely. I recently got a Ella Fitgerald/Duke Ellington 2cd set; I haven't had time to listen to it yet but i plan to soon. Last I have been known to listen to a little Hank Williams Jr before; I like the song "Texas Women","A Country boy can survive" and "Theres a Tear in my beer". Nice to talk to you again


tobey100 profile image

tobey100 6 years ago from Whites Creek, Tennessee

I think I have the same CD set of Robert Johnson. Nice to find a kindred spirit.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@tobey100 - Hope you get as much enjoyment out of your Robert Johnson CD's as i have out of mine.


amulets profile image

amulets 6 years ago from Singapore

Thanks for sharing. That's really cool songs.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@amulets - Glad you enjoyed looking and listening and thanks for your feedback


Bhawna Sharma profile image

Bhawna Sharma 6 years ago from Mumbai, India

You have got good knowledge of music.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Bhawna Sharma - Thank you for your comments


Truth From Truth profile image

Truth From Truth 6 years ago from Michigan

Great article, he was an extremely talented legend. Thanks.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Truth From Truth - Yes he was talented; Thanks for the feedback


cojaqmarketing profile image

cojaqmarketing 6 years ago from Carmel, Indiana

Mmmm...love me some blues too! Last year, New Years Eve 2008 going into 2009 I got to see BB King in concert and count down the New Year with him. Can't believe that he can still rock at his age...but I digress, this is about Diddley - a true classic. Great to be among so many blues, jazz, 'real music' fans here!

Jeremy


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@cojaqmarketing - Once again thanks for stopping by


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@dali48 - I understand what you mean he was before my time too. I still appreciate his musical contribution; Thank your for your comments


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

indeed, thanks for featuring this MAN, father of Rock and Roll, one of them -- wasnt been born yet but his work I have heard already, thanks and good job Cool, Maita


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@prettydarkhorse - Thanks for your feedback Maita


Leighandrew profile image

Leighandrew 6 years ago from USA

Super interesting-What an influence !


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Leighandrew - Thanks you for your feedback


SwiftlyClean profile image

SwiftlyClean 6 years ago from Texas

great article on BO Diddley he had great music I remember my father always sang his music.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@SwiftlyClean - Thanks for your kind words, and thanks for stopping by.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Bo Diddley was a fantastic entertainer. I didn't know about his "mishap" on stage with the other guitar. Very detailed- thanks!


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Micky Dee - Once again thank you for your feedback :)


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

Coolmon, I love your music hubs, such great artists you present! I skimmed this hub first, knowing that you'd feature a video with Bo Diddley. That way, I could listen to his unique, wonderful music while I was reading.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Dolores Monet - Thank you for the kind words, and thanks for taking the time to comment on this article :)


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

Bo Diddley, now that rang a bell, had to come check it out and will now be a fan of Bo Diddley thanks to your great review.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@katiem2 - Nice to hear from you and thanks for your comments :)

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Additional Information




    Click to Rate This Article
    working