Heart Failure Claims Rock Pioneer Bo Diddley

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

Bo Diddley was a rock pioneer and a trend setter. Hall of Famer Bo Diddley, who penned such songs as "I'm a Man" and "Who Do You Love?" died Monday of heart failure at his Florida home after months of health problems. He was 79.

Born in McComb, Miss., as Ellas Otha Bates. The family moved to Chicago when he was seven. He took violin lessons as a boy, but was inspired to become a guitarist after seeing John Lee Hooker.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour released a statement on Diddley's passing:
"Bo Diddley was born a Mississippian and grew up in a world where natural talent earned him fame and respect. He was a rock-and-roll icon, a true pioneer whose style generated a lot of copies that were not nearly as good as the original. Marsha and I mourn his loss and extend our deepest sympathies to his family."

Diddley always said he was given the name 'Bo Diddley' by kids he grew up with in Chicago. He gained national attention on the power of his first hit single, "Bo Diddley," which cracked the charts in 1955, and featured his trademark staccato rhythm. He was also known for his familiar homemade square-bodied guitar, shades and black hat.

Bo Diddley had a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, picked up a lifetime achievement award at the 1999 Grammy Awards, and played for presidents and royalty. None of the accolades left him impressed, since he said they didn't end up in his checkbook.

He joked, "If you ain't got no money, ain't nobody calls you honey."

Over the past year, Diddley had suffered a stroke while on tour in Iowa, followed by a heart attack in August 2007.

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