Monday, June 2, 2008

Bo Diddley, the legend of rock'n'roll, dies of heart failure aged 79

Blues legend Bo Diddley

Bo Diddley, the idiosyncratic blues guitarist who became one of the fathers of rock'n'roll, died yesterday at his home in Florida. He was 79. The cause was heart failure, his talent agency said in a statement. Diddley had a heart attack last August, months after suffering a stroke while touring in Iowa. “One of the founding fathers of rock'n'roll has left the building he helped construct,” the statement added.

In the 1950s Diddley was one of a handful of performers — Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry were others — who tranformed popular music by taking blues, gospel and rhythym and blues and creating rock'n'roll.
Born Otha Ellas Bates, he invented his own name, just as he developed his own rectangular guitar and his own unmistakable style: the “Bo Diddley Beat”. Diddley's best-known records include Mona, Crackin' Up, Bo Diddley and I'm A Man, while his wild live performances — balancing on his toes, shaking his knees and playing his guitar above his head — influenced Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix.
The Beatles and the Rolling Stones revered him, but Diddley felt that his standing and influence had not been sufficiently recognised. “I opened the door for a lot of people, and they just ran through and left me holding the knob,” he told The New York Times in 2003. Two years later he made the point more forcefully. “I tell musicians, ‘Don't trust nobody but your mama,' ” he said in an interview. “And even then, look at her real good.”

Bo Diddley - Road Runner

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