“I used to get mad about people recording my things; now I got a new thing going … I don’t get mad about them recording my material because they keep me alive.”
– Bo Diddley, in a 1969 interview
He created his own beat. So why not title the song that contained it after himself too? Ellas McDaniel, better known as Bo Diddley, used a simple five accent rhythm to establish what became his mythical, signature pattern, known simply as The Bo Diddley Beat. His eponymous 1955 song ‘Bo Diddley’ first demonstrated it to the music world, and it’s been lovingly appropriated for over six decades and counting since by artists like Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Bruce Springsteen, and David Bowie. In addition to The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers, The Byrds, U2, and The Grateful Dead. There were also The Clash, The Pretenders, Elton John, and George Michael. Not to mention Guns N’ Roses, The Doors, and Bow Wow Wow. As well as The Stooges and The Supremes. Plus Dick Dale and Duane Eddy. Oh, and don’t forget George Thorogood (who also memorably conquers Bo in a billiards showdown in his video for ‘Bad To The Bone’). And, of course, The Animals, who recorded a song entitled ‘The Story of Bo Diddley’ (incredibly, as the 6-minute-long, opening track on their debut album). Maybe it would’ve just been easier to list the artists who haven’t made use of the legendary Bo Diddley Beat. Really, if you don’t know Bo – as the man himself aptly said in the original 1989 “Bo Knows” Nike commercial – you don’t know Diddley.
The Bo Diddley Beat Playlist
Bo & Bo
Bo & George
Bo & Dan (he could act, too)