Originally Posted by CNN.com
Bo Diddley, the musical pioneer whose songs, such as "Who Do You Love?" and "Bo Diddley," melded rhythm and blues and rock 'n' roll through a distinctive thumping beat, has died. He was 79.
Diddley died Monday, surrounded by family and loved ones at his home in Archer, Florida, a family spokeswoman said.
The cause was heart failure, his family said.
The world-renowned guitarist's signature beat -- usually played on an equally distinctive rectangular-bodied guitar -- laid the foundation for rock 'n' roll for decades, and became so identified with him that it became known as the "Bo Diddley" beat. iReport.com: Share your memories of the bluesman
"This distinctive, African-based 5/4 rhythm pattern (which goes bomp-bomp-bomp bomp-bomp) was picked up by other artists and has been a distinctive and recurring element in rock 'n' roll through the decades," according to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.
Among the artists who made use of the Bo Diddley beat were Buddy Holly ("Not Fade Away," later covered by the Rolling Stones), Johnny Otis ("Willie and the Hand Jive"), the Strangeloves ("I Want Candy"), U2 ("Desire") and George Michael ("Faith"). Hundreds of artists have covered Diddley songs.
His debut single was his self-titled classic, with "I'm a Man" as its B-side.
"It was the first in a string of groundbreaking sides that walked the fine line between rhythm & blues and rock 'n' roll," his Hall of Fame biography says.
Diddley was a contemporary of Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and Elvis Presley. Diddley's first records were with the Checker label, which also represented Berry.
Diddley was born Ellas Otha Bates in McComb, Mississippi, later taking the name McDaniel after being adopted by his mother's cousin. Diddley's family moved to Chicago when he was 7, according to his Hall of Fame biography.
He played violin as a child, but said he was inspired to pick up the guitar after hearing John Lee Hooker's 1949 rhythm and blues hit, "Boogie Chillen."
He continued to tour well into 2007, but suffered a stroke last May and a heart attack in August.
He was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in January 1987.