Today is the birthday of Bo Diddley (born Ellas Bates),
born in 1928 in McComb, Mississippi. Bo Diddley is a true legend of rock 'n'
roll, though his own roots are in the blues and R&B of the rural south.
Diddley's biggest contribution to rock 'n' roll is a unique approach to rhytmn
that can be heard on such songs as "Who Do You Love." Adopted by a sharecropping
family, Diddley moved with them to South Chicago where he studied violin; he
won his lifelong name from his classmates. In his early teens he picked up the
guitar, played on Chicago's Maxwell street every chance he got, and learned to
make violins and guitars.
Diddley was signed to Leonard Chess' Checker
label in 1955; he immediately began recording singles, though he received no
royalties for his music and did not complete a full LP until 1962. His
popularity grew through the '60s, when his songs were covered by everyone from
the Rolling Stones, the Doors and the Quicksilver Messenger Service. In the
'60s he recorded with such blues greats as Little Walter and Muddy Waters, as
well as cutting an album with some of the then-popular British musicians who
had grown up on his rock 'n' roll. He opened for the Clash on their 1979 tour,
appeared in George Thoroughgood's "Bad to the Bone" video and made a cameo in
the movie Trading Places. He continues to write, perform, entertain and
inspire to this day. Other birthdays: Jeff Lynne (Electric Light
Orchestra/Traveling Wilburys), The late Del Shannon, Michael Nesmeth and Davy
Jones (Monkees) and Geoff Peacey (Lake). -- Beth Winegarner