Bo Diddley – Bo Diddley

You know you have confidence when you name a song after yourself. Bo Diddley was born Ellas Bates. He had his name changed to Ellas McDaniels when he was adopted. He took his stage name from a one-stringed Deep South instrument, the Diddley Bow.

Diddley was trained on the violin as a child, but switched to guitar (to emulate John Lee Hooker) when his sister gave him one for a Christmas present.

Originally titled “Uncle John,” the song was rejected by the owners of Chess Records because the original lyrics were “too dirty” for the white American record-buying public. In response, Diddley re-wrote the lyrics and named the song after himself. From this point forward, Diddley often put his name in his songs.

 Its lyrics are based on the traditional lullaby titled “Hush Little Baby”, and it prominently features the Bo Diddley beat that the singer made famous.

The single was a double A side if there ever was one. Bo Diddley on one side and I’m A Man on the other. It peaked at #1 on the R&B Charts in 1955. 

From Songfacts

Diddley took his longtime partner Jerome Green to play the maracas on the recording. Green’s efforts were fed through an echo chamber to get the desired effect.

The Bo Diddley riff was incorporated into many rock’n’roll songs. Examples include “Not Fade Away” (Buddy Holly), “Willie and the Hand Jive” (Johnny Otis Show), “Cannonball” (Duane Eddy), “Hey Little Girl” (Dee Clark), “I Want Candy” (Strangeloves), “Bad Blood” (Neil Sedaka), and “Faith” (George Michael).

Contrary to popular belief, this did not make the Billboard Top Singles chart, but it did hit #1 on the Rhythm and Blues chart.

Diddley’s sole Top 40 his was recorded four years later – “Say Man” – a tape of Diddley and Green swapping insults in a bar. Instruments were added in the studio, and a #20 hit was born.

Bo Diddley performed this on his Ed Sullivan Show appearance November 20, 1955. Sullivan wanted Diddley to sing “Sixteen Tons,” but Diddley played this song anyway, which didn’t go over well with the host. Diddley was never asked back.

Bo Diddley

Bo diddley bought his babe a diamond ring
If that diamond ring don’t shine
He gonna take it to a private eye
If that private eye can’t see
He’d better not take the ring from me

Bo diddley caught a nanny goat
To make his pretty baby a Sunday coat
Bo diddley caught a bear cat
To make his pretty baby a Sunday hat

Mojo come to my house, ya black cat bone
Take my baby away from home
Ugly ole mojo, where ya bin
Up your house, and gone again

Bo diddley, bo diddley have you heard?
My pretty baby said she wasn’t for it


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

36 thoughts on “Bo Diddley – Bo Diddley”

    1. He did…and I like his interviews in Hail Hail Rock and Roll about Chuck Berry. That lick he gave on guitar…I could play all day and never get tired of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Milestone: Bo Diddley changed rock’n’roll with his Diddley beat. Many British beat groups in the sixties like The Who, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, The Pretty Things and The Rolling Stones played the hypnotic Diddley staccato.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I envy you on that one…If he would have just come up with that rhythm and guitar lick…that would have been enough but he was so much more.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting story about a rock pioneer. Wouldn’t have ever known where he took his name from (actually I would have guessed Diddley was his real name and Bo probably short for something like Beauregard ). Also wouldn’t have guessed Ed Sullivan would have had him on back in the 50s!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Ed Sullivan thing surprised me also.

      The bad thing about writing these so far in advanced now…sometimes I forget which one is scheduled! I wrote this a month ago. I had to re-read it this morning lol.


    1. That rhythm is great. When I play guitar…there is not a time when I don’t go to E E E – A – E and do that rhythm…it never gets old.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Am I right that these lyrics were taken and used in Mockingbird by James Taylor and Carly Simon? Bo Diddly makes good music. I can’t help but giggle to think of a musical act not bending to the will of the likes of Ed Sullivan. I saw Lawrence Welk the same way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think they used the traditional lyrics didn’t they?
      I have mixed emotions about Sullivan. He had too much power and was way too temperamental….he did help acts…of course those same acts made him.

      Liked by 1 person

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