On this day in 1928, the rock legend Bo Diddley was born. It’s a little strange though. He is literally a household word. But people don’t so much know his music. This is partly due to the fact that he never had a song that charted high on regular pop radio. His biggest hit was the confusingly titled “Bo Diddley” — which made it to number one on the R&B charts but didn’t make it on the pop charts at all.
I know that when I was younger, I was confused as to whether Bo Diddley was an actual person or not. Of course, he isn’t really. That’s just the stage name of Ellas Otha Bates. But even at that time he was an important artist. And he was hugely influential with musicians I would go on to love like The Velvet Underground.
What most defines his work is his use of really compelling, driving rhythms. You hear this on his first and biggest hit, “Bo Diddley” where there isn’t really much more than the rhythm. Additionally, the vocal to it has the sound of a field song. It’s all very simple but fascinating:
Happy birthday Bo Diddley!