Bo Diddley - Ellas Bates - Ellas McDaniel
You may come across several variations of the names above
attributed to Bo Diddley, however David Blakey, Webmaster for Bo provided on
11-16-2004 the spelling of the names shown above. Thanks David.
Ellas Bates was adopted by Gussie McDaniel shortly after his birth. Gussie
was a cousin of Bo's mother. They moved to Chicago in the mid 1930's,
where Bo studied classical violin for the next several years under O.W.
Frederick. Bo received his first guitar when he was twelve as a Christmas
present from his sister Lucille. It was in high school that he acquired
the nickname Bo Diddley. After graduation, Bo worked as a truck driver,
boxer, a laborer and became a part-time musician. Bo played on street
corners and on Maxwell Street with his neighborhood friends, Billy Boy Arnold
and Jody Williams (Joseph Leon Williams). He took the professional name of
"Bo Diddley" in 1955 when told by Leonard Chess that he needed a new
name other than Ellas McDaniel. Billy Boy Arnold suggested he use the name
Bo Diddley of the colorful street character from their Chicago neighborhood. Two
original songs were recorded
for Checker Records and released on May 4, 1955 titled "Bo Diddley"
and "I'm a Man." This 45 rpm recording went to the top of
the charts and everyone knew of Bo Diddley.
Bo was also a song writer and you're probably familiar with the tune "Love
is Strange" made famous by Mickey (Baker) and Sylvia (Vanderpool) which is
credited to Ethel Smith in 1957. Ethel Smith was Bo's wife at the
time! Bernard Pretty Purdie was the drummer and Bo's neighborhood buddy,
Jody Williams played guitar on this, so listen close for that Bo Diddley
sound. What do you think?
Bo was covered by the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, the Doors,
the Grateful Dead, and others. Even rap group De La Soul liked Bo.
Bo said he started the Rap Thing anyway with his 1959 hit "Say Man",
which includes jive talking Bo signifying (dissin') with maraca player Jerome
Bo was married four times with four children and numerous grandchildren &
b December 30, 1928 - McComb, MS
d June 2, 2008 - Archer, FL
Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award - 1998
Grammy Song Award-Bo Diddley (Checker 1955) - 1998
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - 1987
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