Bo Diddley Biography
DOB: December 30, 1928
Date of Death: June 2, 2008
Diabetes Type: unknown
Bo Diddley was born on December 30, 1928 in McComb, Mississippi but soon after moved with his family to Southern Chicago and became an active member at their local church. It was here, Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he studied both the violin and trombone. He caught on quickly and soon became talented enough to play in the orchestra, where he continued until the age of 18. After performing with the orchestra, Diddley became interested in the guitar. He eventually formed a group with his friends that was originally named “The Hipsters” and later called “The Langley Avenue Jive Cats.” While Diddley loved playing the guitar, his favorite instrument ultimately became The Twang Machine, a cigar-box shaped gretsch that he designed.
During the summer of 1943, Diddley was a well-known regular at the Maxwell Street Market, almost always outside playing for change. By 1951 he was able to land a regular gig at the 708 Club in Chicago. A couple of years later he teamed up with a number of different musicians to record demos at Chess Records. His single titled “Bo Diddley” was then released in March of 1955 and soon became a #1 R&B hit. Later that year Diddley appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” where instead of playing the song they requested, he preformed “Bo Diddley” and was in turn forbade from appearing on the show in the future. Throughout the late 1950’s and 1960’s he released a number of albums titled Have Guitarand Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger. By 1963 he had released 11 full albums through Checker Records and was on a UK concert tour with The Rolling Stones, The Everly Brothers and Little Richard.
In the 1970’s Diddley took a bit of time away from his music career and served for two years as Deputy Sheriff for Valencia County in New Mexico. During the 1970’s and throughout the remainder of his career he played with different musicians and joined them on tour. In 1986 Bo Diddley was inducted into the Washington Area Music Association’s Hall of Fame, and then a year later he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1996 Diddley received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, and two years later followed up with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Diddley began the new millennium by being inducted into both Mississippi and Northern Florida’s Musicians Hall of Fame, and receiving a Pioneer in Entertainment Award from the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters.
Diddley spent the remainder of his days in Archer, Florida with his family. He continued to do everything from attending church to touring the country until May of 2007 when he was admitted into the ICU at Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Diddley had suffered from a stroke, and already fighting hypertension and diabetes, the stroke damaged the left side of his brain and caused him to incur slight speech impairment. Later in the year, on August 28, 2007 Diddley suffered a heart attack, and then on June 2, 2008 he died of heart failure at his home in Archer, Florida surrounded by 35 of his friends and family members. The last words Bo Diddley spoke were, “I’m going to heaven.”
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