Guitarist George Thorogood, a Diddley disciple, put it more bluntly.
"[Chuck Berry's] 'Maybellene' is a country song sped up," Thorogood told Rolling Stone in 2005. " 'Johnny B. Goode' is blues sped up. But you listen to 'Bo Diddley,' and you say, 'What in the Jesus is that?' "
Among the artists who made use of the Bo Diddley beat were Buddy Holly ("Not Fade Away," later covered by the Rolling Stones), Johnny Otis ("Willie and the Hand Jive"), the Yardbirds (covering Diddley's "I'm a Man" and adding their own guitar stylings to the closing bars, which were later incorporated into the Count Five's "Psychotic Reaction"), the Strangeloves ("I Want Candy"), Bruce Springsteen ("She's the One"), U2 ("Desire") and George Michael ("Faith"). Hundreds of artists have covered Diddley songs.
His debut single was his self-titled 1955 classic, with "I'm a Man" as its B-side. The songs were released on Chicago's Chess-Checker Records label, also the home of Chuck Berry and Willie Dixon.
"It was the first in a string of groundbreaking sides that walked the fine line between rhythm & blues and rock 'n' roll," his Hall of Fame biography says.
Diddley was also a pioneer of the electric guitar, tweaking his instruments and adding a variety of effects to his recordings