“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
McComb in Pike County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)

Bo Diddley

December 30, 1938 - June 2, 2008

Bo Diddley Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cajun Scrambler, July 2, 2022
1. Bo Diddley Marker
Inscription.  In the 1950s, as a founder of rock 'n' roll, Bo Diddley helped to reshape the sound of popular music worldwide. His original style of rhythm and blues influenced generations of musicians. He was one of rock's most influential artists because he had something nobody else could claim, his own beat: chink-a-chink-chink, ca-chink-chink; a syncopated beat (also known as "hambone" or "shave-and-a-haircut-two-bits"). It can be found in Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away," Johnny Otis's "Willie and the Hand Jive," among hundreds of other songs.

Bo was born Otha Ellas Bates in McComb, MS. He was reared primarily by Gussie McDaniel, a first cousin of his mother, Esther Wilson. After the death of her husband, Ms. McDaniel, who had three children of her own, took the family to Chicago, where young Otha's name was legally changed to Ellas B. McDaniel. He was 6 when the family resettled on Chicago's South Side. He described his youth as one of school, church, trouble with street toughs and playing the violin for both band and orchestra. Ellas studied classical violin from 7 to 15 and started on guitar at 12.

He began performing in a duo
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with his friend Roosevelt Jackson, who played the washtub bass. They became a trio when another guitarist, Jody Williams was added, then a quartet when a harmonica player, Billy Boy Arnold, was added. The band, first called the Hipsters and then the Langley Avenue Jive Cats, started playing at the Maxwell Street open-air market. They were sometimes joined by another friend, Samuel Daniel, known as Sandman because of the shuffling rhythms he made with his feet on a wooden board sprinkled with sand.

Bo could not make a living playing with the Jive Cats in the early days, so he found jobs where he could: at a grocery store, a picture-frame factory, and a blacktop company. He worked as an elevator operator and a meat packer. He also started boxing, hoping to turn professional. In 1954, Bo made a demo recording with his band, which now included Jerome Green on maracas. Chess Records liked the demo, especially Mr. Diddley's tremolo on the guitar, a sound that seemed to slosh around like water. They saw it as a promising novelty and encouraged the group to return. Otha Ellas McDaniel had a new name and the title of a new song, whose lyrics began, "Bo Diddley bought his babe a diamond ring." "Bo Diddley" became the A side of his first single, in 1955, on the Checker label, a subsidiary of Chess. It reached No. 2 on the Billboard singles chart. From 1958 and 1963, Checker
Bo Diddley Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cajun Scrambler, July 2, 2022
2. Bo Diddley Marker
released 11 full-length albums by Bo Diddley.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, MusicEntertainment.
Location. 31° 14.7′ N, 90° 27.087′ W. Marker is in McComb, Mississippi, in Pike County. Marker is on North Railroad Avenue north of Main Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: McComb MS 39648, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Bo Diddley (within shouting distance of this marker); Steam Locomotive #2542 (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Aluminum Refrigerator Car #51000 (about 500 feet away); 1883 "Club Car Dixie" Office Car (about 500 feet away); Railway Post Office Car (about 600 feet away); Caboose #9384 (about 600 feet away); McComb (approx. 0.2 miles away); Summit Street (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in McComb.
Credits. This page was last revised on July 3, 2022. It was originally submitted on July 3, 2022, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana. This page has been viewed 117 times since then and 49 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 3, 2022, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana.

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Nov. 29, 2023