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Rock pioneer Bo Diddley dies at age 79

Rock music pioneer Bo Diddley died Monday of heart failure at his home in Archer, Fla., following an extended period of poor health, according to spokeswoman Susan Clary.

The 79-year-old Mississippi native, who survived a heart attack in August 2007 -- three months after suffering a stroke -- was scheduled to perform at the Richardson Wildflower music festival earlier in 2007, but his health forced him to pull out. His doctors said the stroke affected Diddley's ability to speak, and he had returned to Florida to continue rehabilitation.

In 1987, Texas rock icons ZZ Top inducted Diddley into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, one of several honors the guitarist received throughout his career.

"The artiste, the man who constructed the sound we all grew to revolve around ... and a vision of simplicity delivered through effortless expression and sense of humor," said ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons in a statement. "Many times, Bo made a point to say, 'I'll always be around' and we know he will."

Diddley, armed with his trademark "cigar box" guitar, is widely credited as being one of rock and roll's forefathers, influencing a variety of artists with his signature, rhythmic style. In the early 1950s, Diddley said, disc jockeys called his type of music, "jungle music." It was Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed who is credited with inventing the term "rock 'n' roll."

Diddley said Freed was talking about him when he introduced him, saying, "Here is a man with an original sound, who is going to rock and roll you right out of your seat."

His first single, Bo Diddley, introduced record buyers in 1955 to his signature rhythm: bomp ba-bomp bomp, bomp bomp, often summarized as "shave and a haircut, two bits." The B-side, I'm a Man, also became a rock standard.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.