|Bo Diddley, The Originator
Real Name: Ellas McDaniels
When Bo was a small boy his family moved to Chicago. It was while in grammar school that he got the nickname Bo Diddley, which he began using as an amateur boxer. At the age of ten, he got a guitar as a Christmas present and began playing it daily. He was influenced to play the guitar by John Lee Hooker when he heard the song "Boogie Children". In 1951, Bo started playing at the 708 Club in Chicago. In 1955, he auditioned for Phil and Leonard Chess of Chess records with a song he wrote called "Uncle John". The brothers liked what they heard so they signed Bo to an exclusive contract and decided to record the song. They felt the title of the song should he changed, so Bo named it after himself, "Bo Diddley". Bo used maracas in the song to emphasize the beat and the sound he was trying to create. It took thirty-five takes in the recording studio, but they finally had the sound and song they wanted. It became his biggest hit in 1955 and established his guitar sound. Four years later, in 1959, while at a recording session, Bo came up with another classic hit.
It was during a coffee break that Bo and his maracas player Jerome Green started to kid each other while they were playing their guitars. Ron Maylow of Chess records was in the control room at the time and he turned on the recorder to capture the spontaneous humor. After about ten minutes of the kidding he turned off the recorder and told Bo he had recorded their conversation. Bo, somewhat surprised, could not figure out why Ron would want to record what they had just been doing. After much editing, the song was released that fall and "Say Man" became a hit. In the mid-fifties, when Bo played the Apollo theater in Harlem, a young man named Elvis Presley would come to watch him work whenever he was in town.
Now in his early 70s, one of the founding fathers of rock music and the popularizer of the world-famous "Bo Diddley beat", singer and guitarist Bo Diddley is still very much active in the recording studio and in the clubs and the concert halls around the world. He performed a rousing version of his classic song "Who Do You Love" with George Thorogood & The Destroyers in front of a TV audience of millions at the Live Aid Concert in Philadelphia in 1985. A couple of years later he was deservedly an early inductee into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. In 1996 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm 'n' Blues Foundation and in 1998 received another Lifetime Achievement Award this time from The Recording Academy at that year's annual Grammy Awards Ceremony. More recently, yet further honors were justifiably awarded to him when he was inducted into The Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, The North Florida Music Association Hall of Fame and on March 8th of this year he was awarded the prestigious Pioneer In Entertainment Award by The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB).