R.I.P. Bo Diddley

June 2, 2008


The 79-year old progenitor of blues-based rock, Bo Diddley, is dead in his Florida home from heart failure today.

Bo Diddley carved what is now known as the Bo Diddley Beat into the pages of rock and roll for the likes of Chuck Berry, Elvis, and everybody that followed them to read and replay in their own style.  He is the patriarch of most of what you hear on the radio today.

From Neil Strauss’s Rolling Stone article:

To use the word "influenced" is an understatement to describe the effect of Diddley's first half-dozen singles and careening performances on rock music. In 1956, the Harlem newspaper the Amsterdam News, on first seeing Elvis Presley perform, claimed he had "copied Bo Diddley's style to the letter"; Buddy Holly borrowed Diddley's music for his biggest hit, "Not Fade Away" (some say Holly copped his horn-rimmed glasses from Diddley as well); the Stones, influenced as much by Diddley's guitar tremolo and tuning as his beat, recorded versions of "Not Fade Away" and Diddley's "Mona" for their early albums; the Grateful Dead covered Diddley and eventually played with him; De La Soul sampled his Seventies funk recordings; and everything from the Who's "Magic Bus" to U2's "Desire" to Bruce Springsteen's "She's the One" to George Michael's "Faith" is based on the ubiquitous Diddley beat.