Otha Ellas Bates (later known as Ellas McDaniel), 28 December
1928, McComb, Mississippi, USA. After beginning his career
as a boxer, where he received the sobriquet "Bo Diddley",
the singer worked the blues clubs of Chicago with a repertoire
influenced by Louis Jordan, John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters.
In late 1954, he teamed up with Billy Boy Arnold and recorded
demos of "I'm A Man" and "Bo Diddley".
Re-recorded at Chess Studios with a backing ensemble comprising
Otis Spann (piano), Lester Davenport (harmonica), Frank Kirkland
(drums) and Jerome Green (maracas), the a-side, "Bo Diddley",
became an R&B hit in 1955. Before long, Diddley's distorted,
amplified, custom-made guitar, with its rectangular shape
and pumping rhythm style became a familiar, much-imitated
trademark, as did his self-referential songs with such titles
as "Bo Diddley's A Gunslinger", "Diddley Daddy"
and "Bo's A Lumberjack". His jive-talking routine
with "Say Man" (a US Top 20 hit in 1959) continued
on "Pretty Thing" and "Hey Good Lookin'",
which reached the lower regions of the UK charts in 1963.
By then, Diddley was regarded as something of an R&B legend
and found a new lease of life courtesy of the UK beat boom.
The Pretty Things named themselves after one of his songs,
while his work was covered by such artists as the Rolling
Stones, the Animals, Manfred Mann, the Kinks, the Yardbirds,
Downliners Sect and the Zephyrs. Diddley subsequently jammed
on albums by Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters and appeared infrequently
at rock festivals. His classic version of "Who Do You
Love" became a staple cover for a new generation of US
acts ranging from Quicksilver Messenger Service to the Doors,
Tom Rush and Bob Seger, while the UK's Juicy Lucy took the
song into the UK Top 20.