GWEN IFILL: Musician Bo Diddley also died today. The guitarist’s career spanned more than five decades. Early on, his music caught the ear of the Chess Brothers, who owned a Chicago-based recording label.
Bo Diddley’s story was told as part of a 1995 PBS series, “Rock & Roll.” Here is an excerpt.
NARRATOR: In March 1955, the Chess’s heard a different sound, electric guitar played in a new way by an eccentric black man who called himself Bo Diddley.
BO DIDDLEY, Musician: I taught myself. I was just kind of a weird fellow with music. I wanted to do my thing; I didn’t want to do something I heard somebody else do.
I mainly played chords and stuff like that and rhythm. I’m a rhythm fanatic. I played the guitar as if I were playing drums. That’s the thing that makes my music so different. I do licks on the guitar that the drummer would do.
MUSICIAN: Bo Diddley was an original guy. He had women in his band. He had the Duchess.
MUSICIAN: Duchess. Then he had Cookie.
MUSICIAN: Then he had cookie. He had different instruments. He had an electric violin in his band. He had maracas in his band. He wasn’t afraid to experiment.
NARRATOR: Bo Diddley brought his percussive sound to an audience of millions in November 1955 on the country’s top-rated variety program, “The Ed Sullivan Show,” as primetime television was gradually beginning to acknowledge the growing popularity of black music.
His rhythms would soon become rock-and-roll main stays, propelling hits by everybody from Buddy Holly and Johnny Otis in the late ’50s, to punk and heavy metal bands of more recent decades.
GWEN IFILL: Bo Diddley was 79 years old.