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Bo Diddley laid to rest

June 7, 2008 5:42:04 PM PDT
Bo Diddley's funeral Saturday rocked and rolled with as much energy as his music. For four hours, friends and relatives sang, danced and celebrated the life of the man who helped give birth to rock and roll with a signature beat that influenced Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones and many others.

As family members passed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's casket, a gospel band played his namesake song. Within moments, the crowd of several hundred began clapping in time and shouting, "Hey, Bo Diddley!"

Diddley died of heart failure Monday at his home in nearby Archer.

"In 1955 he used to keep the crowds rocking and rolling way before Elvis Presley," Diddley's grandson, Garry Mitchell, said before kicking his legs sideways, high up in the air the way Diddley did onstage. Mourners cheered.

"I'm just telling it the way it is," Mitchell said.

Diddley, who was born Ellas Bates and became Ellas McDaniel when he took the last name of a cousin who raised him, was remembered for much more than his songs. Friends recounted his generosity, manifested in concerts for the homeless and work with youth groups and other charities; and the way he loved to talk to just about anybody he met.

Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan referred to one of his most famous hits as she told the crowd, "When the question is asked, 'Who do you love?', it's you, Bo."

Eric Burdon, leader of the rock group The Animals, attended the service, and flowers were sent from musicians including Jerry Lee Lewis, Tom Petty, George Thorogood and others.

 

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