Monday, June 2, 2008

Heaven Just Got More Rhythm : Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer Bo Diddley Dies At 79

The distorted shuffle beat he created on guitar in the mid-1950s is the taproot of rhythm and blues and rock music. Mr. Bo Diddley, who died Monday of heart failure at 79, strongly influenced British guitarists Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones as well as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page during their days in the Yardbirds.

In 1965, The Animals composed a tribute to Mr. Diddley called The Story of Bo Diddley, which traced the early days of R&B and gave Mr. Diddley his due as a pioneer of the music.

The essence of his art can be found on the rock ’n’ roll records he made between 1955 and 1962, before the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, who worshiped him, commercially buried him. He was a 45-r.p.m. singles artist, and “The Chess Box,” a two-disc, 45-track collection released in 1990, demonstrates his genius pretty well, from his canonical boasts and schoolyard chants (“Bo Diddley,” “I’m a Man,” “Hey Bo Diddley,” “Who Do You Love”) to his more mysterious masterpieces (“Mona,” “Dearest Darling” and the slow instrumental violin-blues shuffle “The Clock Strikes Twelve”). His early black-and-white television appearances, which you can see on YouTube, are essential too.

In 1987 Diddley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 1998 he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

But it's as one of the founding fathers of rock and roll that Bo Diddley will be most remembered.

The spokeswoman says Diddley died of heart failure Monday.

He had suffered a heart attack in August, 2007, three months after suffering a stroke while touring in Iowa.

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