Our Top 10 Bo Diddley Songs list takes a look at artist who was so ground breaking that a musical groove was actually named after him. The so called Bo Diddley beat which was based on the African hambone beat would become a huge part of Bo Diddley’s signature sound throughout his entire career. As one of rock and roll s founding fathers, Bo Diddley inspired countless rock and roll musicians from Buddy Holly to The Rolling Stones to Bruce Springsteen and thousands of others. Bo Diddley was part of the first class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees in 1987.
Bo Diddley released his first single in 1955 entitled “Bo Diddley.” His first several releases would be all singles until he released his first album in 1958 entitled Bo Diddley The album was released on Chess Records. A year later Bo Diddley would release his follow up album titled Go Bo Diddley. In the late 50s, the music industry was still focused more on singles than albums. Many albums were put together just to serve as a compilation of an artist’s singles. Bo Diddley began to change that with his third album. In 1960, Bo Diddley released the album Have Guitar Will Travel.1960 was Bo Diddley’s year as he released three albums in 1960. Besides Have Guitar Will Travel, he also released the albums Bo Diddley in the Spotlight and Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger in 1960.
Bo Diddley would release eleven more albums in the 1960s making the sixties his most affluent decade. Bo Diddley would continue to release records in the 1970s releasing six more studio albums during that decade. He started to slow down in the 80s. Over the course of his career he would release twenty seven studio albums, six live albums and thirty seven singles. Our top 10 Bo Diddley songs list focuses on mostly his late 1950s and early 1960s materiel as those were the songs that cemented his legacy as a songwriter and groundbreaking artist.
# 10 – Chuck’s Beat
Well we open up our top 10 Bo Diddley songs list with a meeting of the masters. Two of the biggest legends of rock and roll history met together in 1964 to record one spectacular album together. Both of these men Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley turned the world upside down with their original guitar licks that have been copied for generations. The great album Two Great Guitars was a smoking collaboration between the two. Its represented on this Bo Diddley songs list by the great instrumental track “Chuck’s Beat.”
# 9 – You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover
We continue with our top 10 Bo Diddley songs list by turning to the great song, “You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover.” The song was released in 1962 as a single form the album Bo Diddley. The song was written by Willie Dixon who also played bass on the track. Bo Diddley stepped outside of his familiar Bo groove on this one showing the world he could swing just as sweet as he could rock.
# 8 – Gunslinger
One of our favorite Bo Diddley albums was the classic Bo record Bo Diddley Is A Gunslinger. The song grooves along with that famous hambone beat while Bo’s great vocal drives it home. This one was released in 1960.
# 7 – Cops and Robbers
In 1960, Bo Diddley released a great rock and roll record entitled Have Guitar Will Travel. The album landed in the number one spot on our Best Rock Albums of 1960 list. The album’s single was the great track “Cops and Robbers.” A great slow blues shuffle. The song was written by Kent Harris who was know for writing novelty songs which this one borders on.
# 6 – Pretty Thing
Just listen to that killer opening guitar riff and you can hear the sound of The Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen and so many others whose music was inspired by this man. The Bo Diddley song “Pretty Thing,” was released in 1955 and was a big hit in both the UK and the United States. The song was written by Willie Dixon.
# 5 – Roadrunner
The classic Bo Diddley song “Road Runner,” was released in 1960. The song was composed by Bo Diddley. It was released as a stand alone single. The song “Road Runner,” became one of Bo Diddley’s most covered songs. It was covered by The Animals, The Zombies, The Who, Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders and many others.
# 4 – Hey Bo Diddley
Now you know you love this song and at least have screamed out this lyric one time in you life. Bo Diddley’s “Hey Bo Diddley,” was released as a single in 1957. The song would make its way onto many live albums and compilations. This was another classic written by Bo Diddley.
# 3 – Bo Diddley
The song” Bo Diddley,” was released in 1955 as a single. This is a completely different song than “Hey Bo Diddley.” The song “Bo Diddley,” was Bo Diddley first ever recording and his first single release. The song is a national treasure as it introduced the Bo Diddley sound to the world for the first time.
# 1 – Who Do You Love
One of our favorite Bo Diddley songs of all time will always be the classics tune “Who Do You Love.” Out of all the songs that Bo Diddley composed, “Who Do You Love ,”was his most covered one. So many legends covered this song including a great version by George Thorogood in the 1980s.
# 1 – Mona
We close our our Top 10 Bo Diddley songs list with the great track “Mona.” The song was released as the b side to the single “Hey, Bo Diddley,” which was a great song itself, but over time some would argue that “Mona,” became the more important song. The Rolling Stones recorded a killer version of the song for their debut album. Bruce Springsteen played the song every night on his 1978 tour as the opening section of “Shes The One.” It’s a classic rock song that helps to define the importance of the legend of Bo Diddley in the story of classic rock.