He was born Otha Ellas Bates McDaniels…but you know him as Bo Diddley. Still can’t picture the man? Well, have ya ever heard this sound before? Call that the Bo Diddley beat. Once he came out with it, everybody followed suit.
Sure, he popularized one of the most recognizable rhythms in the music biz, but more than that, Bo Diddley was an innovator in every way. When an electric guitar was too expensive, he built his own. Out of an old neck and a cigar box. Covered it in leather and fur. Made an effects pedal for it too. He used effects like reverb and tremolo way before anyone else.
And while he was vamping on a single distorted chord, he had his “Duchess” tearing up the strings. Duchess is what he called his lead guitarist. See, Bo was one of the first to hire a female as primary shredder.
And listen, Bo Diddley was a killer performer. His hands were nearly a foot long from his wrist to his fingertips. So big it actually made it hard to play guitar. But that didn’t matter. He took his longtime musicianship—he was classically trained on the violin—and made that guitar mumble, made it talk, made it howl. All while leaping around on stage, playin’ that custom box between his legs, behind his head and everywhere in between. Tom Petty once said “Elvis is King, but Diddley is Daddy.” Here he is, Rock n’ Roll Daddy Bo Diddley with “Who do you Love.”