His legacy is a host of seminal numbers that now make up the canon of any self-respecting R&B musician's repertoire. Sad to see him go, but I've got some CDs to enjoy. His trademark riff was the shuffling strum in Who Do You Love but heard in many of his songs:
I walked 47 miles o' barbed wire... DA-dit-DA-dit-DA-dit-dit-DA-DA
Used a cobra snake for a necktie... DA-dit-DA-dit-DA-dit-dit-DA-DA
Got a brand new house on the roadside DA-dit-DA-dit-DA-dit-dit-DA-DA
Made out of rattle snake hide DA-dit-DA-dit-DA-dit-dit-DA-DA
I got a brand new chimney made on top DA-dit-DA-dit-DA-dit-dit-DA-DA
Made out of human skulls DA-dit-DA-dit-DA-dit-dit-DA-DA
Now come on darling let's take a little walk, tell me DA-dit-DA-dit-DA-dit-dit-DA-DA
Who do you love DA-dit-DA-dit-DA-dit-dit-DA-DA
Randy Bachman, on his CBC Radio One show "Vinyl Tap", once talked about how a musicologist studying African regional rhythms introduced Bo Diddley's trademark riff to a group there who recognized the rhythm as one of their own ancestral, tribal rhythms. The people felt that Bo Diddley was probably a descendent of their own tribe who might have learned that rhythm from his own slave-sharecropper ancestors. I don't know if Bo Diddley ever commented on that.
Originally Posted by CNN Obituary
The world-renowned guitarist's signature beat -- usually played on an equally distinctive rectangular-bodied guitar -- laid the foundation for rock 'n' roll, and became so identified with him that it became known as the "Bo Diddley" beat. It was unlike anything else heard in pop music.
"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.
Terrific video featuring Bo and "Lady Bo" to the far right:
Great clip..there are some other ones on youtube worth your time as well.
I was talking 5 or 6 years ago to some blues musicians in Chicago who were around during the glory days of the Maxwell St. Market (http://maxwellblues.com/). Many of them remember Bo as a tough hombre with a rhythmic feel from heaven.
Keith Richards of the Stones said he could never figure out how guys like Bo and Chuck Berry got their chords to sound so big..then when he met them, he realized their hands were enormous..lol..I shook Bo's hand once and can testify that's true. Massive things.