Bo DiddleyOn 30/12/1928: Bo Diddley was born in McComb, Mississippi. His birth name was Ellas Otha Bates. He was adopted by his mother's cousin Gussie McDaniel.
In 1934, he and his family moved to Chicago, there he changed his name to Ellas McDaniel. He was an active member of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Chicago, where he learned the trombone and the violin. After hearing rhythmic music at a Pentecostal church he took up the guitar.
After being inspired by John Lee Hooker, he started playing on street corners with friends. He was in a band with Jerome Green called the Hipsters band, which was later renamed the Langley Avenue Jive Cats. Green would stay to be part of his backing band. The two of them would joke together on stage.
In 1943 and 1944, he played at the Maxwell Street market with Earl Hooker.
By 1951, he was playing on the street with Roosevelt Jackson on washtub bass and Jody Williams. He taught Williams how to play the guitar. In 1951, he got a regular spot at the 708 club in Chicago.
In 1954, He joined harmonica player Billy Boy Arnold, drummer Clifton James and bassist Roosevelt Jackson. Together they recorded demos of "I'm a Man" and "Bo Diddley". It was then re-recorded at Chess Studios, with Otis Spann, Lester Davenport, Frank Kirkland and Jerome Green. It was released in 1955 and became a number one R&B hit.
Where the stage name Bo Diddley came from is unclear. McDaniel would claim it was given him to by his peers and that the name first belonged to a singer his adopted mother knew.
In 1955, Diddley appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show". Staff overheard him playing "Sixteen Tons" in the dressing room and asked him to perform it on the show. On the cue card, it still said the song "Bo Diddley". Sullivan was furious and banned him from the show in future.
In 1956, Diddley and Jody Williams co-wrote "Love is Strange" which became a hit for Mickey & Sylvia the next year.
In 1959, Jo Ann Campbell had a hit with Bo Diddley's composition "Mama (Can I Go Out)".
In the 1950s and 1960s, Diddley had several hits including "Pretty Thing", "Say Man", and "You Can't Judge a Book by the Cover". He released several albums including "Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger" and "Have Guitar, Will Travel".
In the 1960s, he came through as a crossover artist with white audiences.
Bo Diddley's band would include several women over the years. Norma-Jean Wofford, also known as The Duchess; Gloria Jolivet; Peggy Jones, also known as Lady Bo; and Cornelia Redmond, also known as Cookie V.
Diddley set up his own recording studio in the basement of 2614 Rhode Island, NE. He recorded the album "Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger" in the studio.
In the early 1970s, Diddley and his wife Kay helped his daughters with their musical career. They were billed as The Diddley Darlings. They were later called Offspring.
In 1971, Diddley moved to Los Lunas, New Mexico, after the California earthquake. Whilst there he served two years as a deputy sheriff in addition to his music career.
In 1972, Bo Diddley performed with the Grateful Dead at the Academy of Music in New York City.
By the mid-1970s, Diddley could not afford to maintain a full-time band so he started to use pickup bands of musicians.
In 1978, he moved to Hawthorne, Florida. For the rest of his life, he lived between Albuquerque, New Mexico and Florida, before spending the last 13 years in Archer, Florida.
In 1979, Diddley was the opening act for the Clash on their US tour and in Legends of Guitar.
In the early 1980s, Diddley signed a non-exclusive deal with booking agency Talent Consultants. They ensured Diddley had a permanent band and enlisted The Jim Satten Band. Jim Satten, the leader of the band left and bassist Debby Hastings took his position of band leader and changed the name to The Debby Hastings Band.
In 1986, Diddley was inducted into the Washington Area Music Association's Hall of Fame.
In 1987, Diddley joined former Bo Diddley & Offspring guitarist Scott "Skyntyte" Free to form Bad Dad Productions. Bad Dad Productions released mostly home recordings and produced several of Diddley's albums including "Living Legend". Also that year, Diddley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
In 1992, Diddley performed on NBC's "Today Show" with Stone Phillips.
In 1994, Diddley joined the Rolling Stones for their concert broadcast of "Voodoo Lounge".
In 1998, Diddley was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame and the North Florida Music Association's Hall of Fame.
In 2002, Diddley was awarded a Pioneer in Entertainment Award from the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters. He was also honored as one of the first BMI Icons at the 50th annual BMI Pop Awards.
In 2004, Diddley was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Blues Hall of Fame.
In 2005 and 2006. Diddley performed a number of US dates with a non-permanent line-up. His band included Johnnie Johnson, Richard Hunt and Gus Thornton.
In 2006, Diddley was the headliner for a concert to benefit Ocean Springs, Mississippi, which had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina. In the same year, Diddley made his final guitar performance on a studio album for the New York Doll's album "One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This".
In 2007, Diddley suffered a stroke in Omaha, Nebraska the day after a concert in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Later in the year, he suffered a heart attack. Diddley came back to his hometown McComb, Mississippi for the unveiling of his plaque on the Mississippi Blues Trail. Diddley sang at the ceremony, it would be the only time he performed publicly after his stroke.
On 02/06/2008, Diddley died of heart failure in Archer, Florida.
In 2008, Diddley was posthumously awarded a Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Florida.
In 2010, Diddley was posthumously induced into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.