Bo Diddley - photo by Gary Miller - Contributing Photographer
The legendary Bo Diddley died today in Archer, Florida, of heart failure. After suffering a stroke while on tour last spring, he then had a heart attack last August. He never fully recovered from either. From NPR:
Bo Diddley was born Ellas Bates in Mississippi and grew up in Chicago, where he played guitar on street corners before being discovered by Chess Records. He leaves behind a sound that helped build a musical movement.
Diddley's signature rhythm, among the most distinctive beats in rock 'n' roll, can be heard on songs like "I'm a Man" and "Bo Diddley." Scholars trace the pattern to church tambourines, West African drumming, and a hand-patting rhythm called Hambone that goes back to slavery. But Diddley told the public radio show American Routes that he found it someplace else.
"I was trying to play 'I Got Spurs That Jingle Jangle Jingle' by Gene Autrey, and stumbled upon that beat," Diddley said.
The beat may have come from a television cowboy, but later, Diddley described it as "basically an Indian chant."
"Just picture dancing around a daggone big fire, dancing around with their spears," he told Morning Edition in an interview.
Regardless of the beat's source, music historian Peter Guralnick says that Diddley made it big enough for everyone.
"That was just an invitation for people to step into," Guralnick says. "Lots of people imitated it; lots of people carried it on."
These people included Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Bruce Springsteen.
Full obituary here, and see the great man in action under the jump...