500 Greatest Songs of All Time
Bo Diddley, 'Bo Diddley'
Writer: Ellas McDaniel
Producers: Phil and Leonard Chess
Released: June '55, Checker
Did not chart
Didley's first single went to Number One on the R&B charts and immortalized the bedrock beat that would power everything from Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" to the Smiths' "How Soon Is Now." The song originated as a sexually suggestive ditty titled "Uncle John," but the Chess brothers asked Diddley to clean up its lyrics and give it a more memorable title to match its otherworldly sound. Diddley, who studied violin as a child and built his own instruments, wrote songs that were deceptively simple, driven by interplay between the bass, drums and his tremolo guitar. But you can't copyright a beat, and Diddley never reaped the rewards for his greatest innovation.
Appears on: His Best: The Chess 50th Anniversary Collection (Chess)