Bo Diddley

R.I.P. Bo Diddley.

The Mississippi man who was known as Ellas Otha Bates in his infancy passed away from heart failure Monday.

But the man left a legacy of songs and rhythms that are imbedded in music today. From blues and jazz to country, punk and rock 'n' roll, Diddley's influences can be heard through that familiar syncopated Bo Diddley beat — "bop bop BOP bop BOP BOP" — that finds its way into all sorts of songs.

One of the most enduring is "Not Fade Away," written by Buddy Holly, but covered by everyone from the Grateful Dead to James Taylor to the Rolling Stones, to name a few.

The beat lives on in songs such as "Desire" (U2), "Screwdriver" (White Stripes), "Faith" (George Michael), "Deathwish" (the Police), "Cuban Slide" (the Pretenders), "His Latest Flame" (Elvis) and "When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes" (the Supremes), to name a few.

In keeping with the beat — George Thorogood, the Doors, Golden Earring, the Jesus & Mary Chain, the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, Patti Smith, the New York Dolls and Cross Canadian Ragweed are only a handful of groups and artists who have remade the Bo Diddley hit "Who Do You Love?"

And Thorogood did one better and actually had Diddley appear in his 1982 video for "Bad to the Bone." However, that straightforward blues song didn't feature the Bo Diddley beat. The song, though, is a reworking of Diddley's blues tune "I'm a Man."

At any rate, Diddley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. In 1997, Diddley's song, "Bo Diddley," was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The next year, the man was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

He will be missed.


E-mail: scott@desnews.com