Rock 'n roll legend Bo Diddley dies in Florida

Mon Jun 2, 2008 2:49pm EDT
 
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By Jim Loney

MIAMI (Reuters) - Rock 'n' roll pioneer Bo Diddley, who banged out hit songs powered by the relentless "Bo Diddley beat" that influenced rockers from Buddy Holly to U2, died on Monday at the age of 79.

Diddley died of heart failure at his home in Archer, Florida, his management agency, Talent Consultants International, said in a statement.

"One of the founding fathers of rock 'n' roll has left the building he helped construct," the statement said.

Diddley suffered a stroke during a concert in Iowa in May 2007 and was hospitalized in Omaha, Nebraska. In August 2007 he had a heart attack in Florida.

Garry Mitchell, a grandson of Diddley and one of more than 35 family members at the musician's home when he died at about 1:45 a.m. EDT (0545 GMT), said his death was not unexpected.

"There was a gospel song that was sang and he said 'wow' with a thumbs up," Mitchell told Reuters, when asked to describe the scene at Diddley's deathbed.

"The song was 'Walk Around Heaven' and in his last words he stated that he was going to heaven."

In a career spanning more than five decades, Diddley composed a substantial body of rock classics, including "Who Do You Love," "Bo Diddley," "Bo Diddley's a Gunslinger," "Before You Accuse Me," "Mona," "I'm a Man" and "Pretty Thing."   Continued...

 
<p>Legendary blues guitarist Bo Diddley performs at the 35th annual Bumbershoot Seattle Arts Festival in Seattle September 4, 2005. REUTERS/Anthony P. Bolante</p>