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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Smathers Library to showcase Bo Diddley collection

Researchers, UF students and the public will be able to take a peek into a Gainesville legend and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer’s life.

The George A. Smathers Library opened the Ellas B. McDaniel collection last week. McDaniel is better known by his stage name Bo Diddley.

The collection, which showcases Bo Diddley’s items, will have a grand opening Tuesday. It is one of the library’s largest collections, said James Liversidge, one of the two exhibit creators.

Bo Diddley was known as the “Originator” and influenced many artists such as Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, The Who and The Beatles, Liversidge said. He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

At 2 p.m., the exhibit will open to the public and Marty Jourard will give a talk on Bo Diddley, said Florence Turcotte, the other exhibit curator. Jourard knew Bo Diddley and his family and is also a member of the band The Motels.

“We want to attract people who are interested in performing arts or Bo Diddley’s career,” Turcotte said.

The exhibit has more than 500 items on display on the second floor east wing of the library, Turcotte said. Some items include eight boxes of handbills, 21 costumes, awards, instruments and posters.

Bo Diddley was both an innovator and an inventor, Liversidge said. He built his own home studio and created a form of guitar that doesn’t have strings and functioned as a one-man band instrument.

Bo Diddley died in 2008 and spent the last years of his life in Archer, Liversidge said. Bo Diddley Plaza, at 111 E University Ave., was named after him the year he died, and he also received a key to Gainesville, which is in the exhibit.

Hakeem Abdul Malik, a 22-year-old Santa Fe sophomore who studies computer programming, said although he doesn’t know much about Bo Diddley other than the plaza, he does recognize the significance of the collection.

“It’s important for someone like Bo Diddley to have left behind artifacts of his legacy for other people to know that they can also leave a legacy behind that is as official and as inspiring,” Malik said.

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