Alongside Chuck Berry, Diddley is recognized as one of rock's most influential guitarists, expanding the instrument's vocabulary with a crunching, tremolo-laden sound. He played a rectangular "cigar box" guitar of his own design, an instantly recognizable visual counterpart to the distinctive chank-a-chank, a-chank, a-chank-chank
Diddley's most famous songs -- "Who Do You Love," "Mona," "I'm a Man" and "Bo Diddley" -- are the foundation of a huge catalog of songs that have been covered by the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, the Grateful Dead and the Doors and even sampled by rap group De La Soul.
In fact, Diddley is considered by some as a pioneer of rap with his 1959 Top 20 hit "Say Man." On that track, Diddley and his maraca player Jerome Green trade jive-talking insults over a percolating beat, a precursor to rap performers' fondness for dissing one another. "That came out of the black neighborhood way back," Diddley told The Times in 1989. "We used to call it 'signifying.'(read more...)