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Who Taught the Blues to Rock & Roll?
Bo Diddley

Black History Month Dispersed Gallery


The 20th century had its share of legendary guitarists, but few can compare to Bo Diddley. For Black History Month 2024, we’re celebrating the extraordinary legacy of this American musical icon, recognized as a core influence on the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Clash, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, and countless others, as well as a key driver of the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.

Our curatorial team has dug into MoPOP’s permanent collection to bring together a vintage Bo Diddley performance poster from Portland’s Crystal Ballroom, a custom Gretsch electric guitar played by Bo Diddley c. 1960, and an exclusive oral history for an intimate look at where modern American music really started and the artist who taught it to rock.

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Bo Diddley Guitar

Bo Diddley Guitar

Who Taught the Blues to Rock & Roll?
Bo Diddley

Black History Month Dispersed Gallery


The 20th century had its share of legendary guitarists, but few can compare to Bo Diddley. For Black History Month 2024, we’re celebrating the extraordinary legacy of this American musical icon, recognized as a core influence on the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Clash, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, and countless others, as well as a key driver of the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.

Our curatorial team has dug into MoPOP’s permanent collection to bring together a vintage Bo Diddley performance poster from Portland’s Crystal Ballroom, a custom Gretsch electric guitar played by Bo Diddley c. 1960, and an exclusive oral history for an intimate look at where modern American music really started and the artist who taught it to rock.

GET TICKETS ▸

Artifact Feature


Bo Diddley and His Orchestra

Bo Diddley and his Orchestra, the Soulful Deacons and their Orchestra, at the Crystal Ballroom, Portland, Oregon, July 2, 1967

Diddley’s songs regularly charted on the US R&B and Pop charts for a decade after his first record debuted in 1955. By the mid-1960s his prominence on the charts had waned, but his influence and legacy continued to grow due to his iconic sound, enduring hits, and incessant touring schedule, including this stop in Portland in 1967. He continued to regularly record and tour until he suffered from a heart attack in 2007.

MoPOP Permanent Collection

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