500 Greatest Songs of All Time

Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

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Bo Diddley, 'Bo Diddley'

62. 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) 


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