May 29, 2007 / 11:52 PM / 11 years ago

Bo Diddley showing promising signs after stroke

MIAMI (Reuters) - Rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Bo Diddley is still struggling to communicate after a stroke earlier this month. But he has been humming and listening to country music on the radio in hopeful signs of a recovery, his longtime manager and friend said on Tuesday.

“He loves country and western music so he listens to the country and western station (in his hospital room),” Margo Lewis told Reuters.

She said the 78-year-old singer, songwriter and guitarist was transferred on Thursday from a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, to a facility near his home in Gainesville, Florida, and had been receiving speech and occupational therapy since Friday.

The stroke Diddley suffered on May 13 left no physical disability but continued to impair his speech and speech recognition, Lewis said.

“His problem is only in getting out the words sometimes, and in understanding. I think it happens more when he’s tired or excited,” she said.

Lewis said it was too early to tell how much therapy Diddley would need or whether he would recover enough to perform again. But she said he was expected to stay at Shands Rehab Hospital in Gainsville for about two weeks before being sent home to members of the extended family who share the 60-acre (24-hectare) estate he owns nearby.

In addition to cranking up country and western tunes on the radio, Diddley has recently taken to humming, in an upbeat sign the music legend is on the mend, Lewis said.

“When he gets up in the morning he’ll hum while he’s brushing his teeth. And when he goes to breakfast he’ll start humming along (to) a song,” she said.

“It’ll just come to his head. He’s not saying the words but he’s humming the tunes,” she said.

“He’s a performer,” Lewis added.

Referring to the author of such rock ‘n’ roll classics as “Who Do You Love?”, “Mona,” “Road Runner,” and “Before You Accuse Me,” she called Diddley “an elder statesman of rock ‘n’ roll.”

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