Ellas Otha Bates, R.I.P.

Bo Diddley Rock & Roll lost one of it’s brightest and most penetrating stars yesterday, even if one of the least well known. The founder of the jungle beat heard in too many songs to count over the last 50 years succumbed to heart failure at his home in Archer, FL, at the age of 79.

Bo Diddley was a musical innovator who helped forge the sound and contributed to the style of rock ‘n’ roll. He sported a trademark fedora, played an iconic square-shaped guitar and from it he extracted a deep, rusty reverb and a peculiar playing style that influenced generations of players.


“He was by far the most underrated of any ’50s star,” says producer Phil Spector. “You listen to those (reissued box sets) and the rhythmic invention, the consistent high quality of imagination and performance, the excellence of the writing, the power of the vocals – nobody else ever did it better or had a deeper, more penetrating influence.”

Perhaps no guitarist was more influenced by Diddley’s sound and style than ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, who carries on Diddley’s tradition of strange-looking instruments and full-bodied guitar riffs with prickly solos.

Gibbons called Diddley “the ‘artiste.’

“He was the man who constructed the sound we all grew to revolve around,” he said. “And a vision of simplicity delivered through effortless expression and sense of humor. Many times, Bo made a point to say, ‘I’ll always be around,’ and we know he will.”

In other words, when it comes to rock music, if you don’t know Bo you don’t know Diddley. Eric Burden and the Animals offered the best testament to Bo’s prophetic words:

R.I.P. Ellas Otha “Bo Diddley” Bates.

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2 Responses to “Ellas Otha Bates, R.I.P.”

  1. on 03 Jun 2008 at 5:55 pm Lance

    Thanks Michael. Bo was a hero of mine.

  2. on 20 Sep 2008 at 7:14 am Autoversicherung

    Very interested comments and Pictures. Thank you and best regards from Germany. Autoversicherung

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