Gainesville is the home of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Bo Diddley. Also known as The Originator, he laid the foundation for Rock and Roll by creating his signature Shave-and-a-hair-cut beat, a distinctive syncopated rhythm he stumbled on while trying to play Gene Autry's I Got Spurs That Jingle, Jangle, Jingle.

Diddley was born Ellas Bates Dec. 30, 2005 in McComb, Mississippi. He moved to Chicago and grew up with gospel music and the delta blues players of Chicago's southside. It was John Lee Hooker's Boogie Chillen that inspired him to play guitar. He started a street-corner band that gained enough attention to grant him an audition with Chess records in 1954. It was 1955 when Diddley and his friends Chuck Berry and Little Richard introduced their rhythms to American music.

The 76-year-old man has influenced thousands of musicians including U2, Jesus and Mary Chain (who wrote Bo Diddley is Jesus), George Thorogood, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, and The Yardbirds. He appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show 50 years ago and played his self-titled hit to Ed's dismay.

He (Sullivan) was angry at me because he wanted me to play the song Sixteen Tons, and I played the song Bo Diddley instead, Diddley said in an interview by The Sarasota Herald-Tribune. After the show, he told me I wouldn't last six months. The self-titled song reached number two in the rhythm and blues chart, and the 1959 single Hey Man reached the top 20 in the US pop chart, according to Grove Music Online.

With almost no credit given to The Originator himself, Diddley almost slipped through the cracks of the white mainstream world. Elvis Presley earned the name, The King, and Diddley ate beans. There is no doubt that Diddley felt mistreated by the music industry.

We got this thing called the Statute of Limitations, and I guess it means that if a guy can stay out of your way long enough, he don't have to pay you. Diddley said.

Hospitalized with diabetes last year, Diddley still manages to rock on his own time. In November, he played his rectangular guitar at Gainesville's: Downtown Plaza


LexisNexis Academic

Grove Music Online

Bo Diddley plays at Downtown Plaza Nov. 9, 2005. Photo by: Adrienne Harris