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Bo Diddley (Ellas Otha Bates) played on street corners with a band, the Hipsters, while working as a carpenter and mechanic. His determination to ‘make it’ as a musician included playing for tips and performing solo guitar with a backup player on washtub bass. Steeped in the rhythm & blues of the 1930’s and 40’s, he became one of the major pioneers for the rock & roll transition of the 1940’s and 50’s. His early band repertoire included influences from Louis Jordan, John Lee Hooker, and Muddy Waters.
Born in McComb, MS, he was sent at an early age to live with a cousin, Gussie McDaniel, in Chicago, IL. After being adopted, he changed his name to Ellas McDaniel. He attended school and took violin lessons, but after hearing blues legend John Lee Hooker, he switched to the guitar. He became known as ‘The Originator’ for his driving rhythms and hard-edged guitar sounds. Diddley played a key role in early rock ‘n roll, influencing a host of legendary acts including Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.
He recorded demos of "I'm A Man" and "Bo Diddley" first in 1954 and then re-recorded them in 1955, for release by Chess Studios. The A-side, "Bo Diddley," became a #1 R&B hit. Several stories exist describing how he took the stage name ‘Bo Diddley,’ but McDaniel claimed that his peers gave him the label. His trademark rectangle-shaped guitar, dark glasses and black hat were not the only things that set him apart from his peers. The distinctive ‘Bo Diddley’ sound became a model for fast-paced, driving beat that is identified with Rock & Roll. Bo Diddley was not schooled in the music business and thus, did not reap long term financial benefits from his vast, innovative music contributions. He continually had to work with failing health.
Bo Diddley’s influence continued into the 1960’s with a new generation of British rock singers such as Mick Jagger and Phil May of the Pretty Things (who took their name from a Diddley song). His own songs became standards, most notably his self-glorifying anthems 'I'm a Man' and 'Who Do You Love' while his use of maracas became a mainstay for 60’s. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and NARAS (National Academy of Recording Artists and Sciences, the Grammy® organization).
A flamboyant singer, pianist and self-proclaimed 'architect of rock and roll' whose hit songs of the mid-1950s were defining moments in the development of rock and roll genre.
The Beatles John Lennon said “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’.” Rolling Stone's Dave Marsh: "Chuck Berry is to rock what Louis Armstrong was to jazz."
Songwriter, singer and brilliant guitar player entered music wrapped up in the Blues, then was captivated by R&B and took Rock & Roll by the nape of his guitar and catapulted it forward.
Their continued openness to world culture music influences resonated with new generations. Their music is a classic example of music recognized and emulated globally.
He crafted his own niche in Rock & Roll with an R&B and Soul blend. His spontaneous, aching voice had a drive and rhythmic focus that was simultaneously vulnerable and raw.
Richards’s idol, Chuck Berry, provided basic musical compass points for the guitarist. Newsweek later called Richards’s signature "Satisfaction" guitar riff "five notes that shook the world."
Along with his trademark rectangle-shaped guitar, dark glasses and black hat, the distinctive ‘Bo Diddley’ sound became a model for fast-paced, driving beat that is identified with Rock & Roll.
This member of the first group of inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and pioneer of rock and roll experienced success that lasted only a year and a half.
Lenny Kravitz is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, actor and arranger whose sound pulls from elements of rock, soul, R&B, funk, reggae, hard rock, psychedelic, folk and ballads.
National Museum of African American Music
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The National Museum of African American Music will stand as an international iconic cultural museum dedicated to the vast contributions African Americans have made in music.