Bo Diddley gets rocking sendoff

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 'n' 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 clapped in time and shouted, “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.