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 Green.
Bo was married four times with four children and numerous grandchildren & great-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


BO1.jpg (46385 bytes)      BO7.jpg (20860 bytes)      BO2.jpg (69906 bytes)

BO3.jpg (54969 bytes)      Bo4.jpg (52759 bytes)

Bo5.jpg (47549 bytes)      BO8.jpg (17594 bytes)      Bo6.jpg (54919 bytes)

Back to "Bo Diddley" on Musician Directory Page

  Back to "Ellas Bates-McDaniel" on Musician Directory Page

    Copyright 1998-2017 MojoRat LLC. All rights reserved.