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Otis Rush Jr. (April 29, 1935 – September 29, 2018)[1] was an American blues guitarist and singer-songwriter. His distinctive guitar style featured a slow-burning sound and long bent notes. With qualities similar to the styles of other 1950s artists Magic Sam and Buddy Guy, his sound became known as West Side Chicago blues and was an influence on many musicians, including Michael Bloomfield, Peter Green and Eric Clapton.

Otis Rush
Otis Rush at Notodden bluesfestival.jpg
Rush at the Notodden Blues Festival, Norway, 1997
Background information
Birth name Otis Rush Jr.
Born (1935-04-29)April 29, 1935
Philadelphia, Mississippi, U.S.
Origin Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died September 29, 2018(2018-09-29) (aged 83)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Genres Blues, Chicago blues, R&B
Occupation(s) Musician, singer, songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1956–2003
Labels Cobra, Chess, Duke, Vanguard, Cotillion, Bullfrog, Black & Blue, P-Vine Records Delmark, Sonet, Blind Pig
Website Otisrush.net

Rush was left-handed and strummed with his left hand while fretting with his right. His guitars, however, were strung with the low E string at the bottom, in reverse or upside-down to typical guitarists.[2] He often played with the little finger of his pick hand curled under the low E for positioning. It is widely believed that this contributed to his distinctive sound. He had a wide-ranging, powerful tenor voice.[3]

Contents

Early lifeEdit

The son of Julia Campbell Boyd and Otis C. Rush, he was born near Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1935.[4]

CareerEdit

Rush moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1949[5] and after being inspired by Muddy Waters made a name for himself playing in blues clubs on the South and West Side of the city. From 1956 to 1958, he recorded for independent label Cobra Records and released eight singles, some featuring Ike Turner or Jody Williams on guitar.[3] His first single, "I Can't Quit You Baby", in 1956 reached number 6 on the Billboard R&B chart.[5] During his tenure with Cobra, he recorded some of his best-known songs, such as "Double Trouble" and "All Your Love (I Miss Loving)."[6]

Cobra Records went bankrupt in 1959, and Rush signed a recording contract with Chess Records in 1960.[3] He recorded eight tracks for the label, four of which were released on two singles that year. Six tracks, including the two singles, were later included on the album Door to Door in 1969, a compilation also featuring Chess recordings by Albert King.[7] Rush went into the studio for Duke Records in 1962, but only one single, "Homework" backed with "I Have to Laugh", was issued by the label.[8] It was also released in Great Britain as Vocalion VP9260 in 1963. In 1965, he recorded for Vanguard; these recordings are included on the label's compilation album Chicago/The Blues/Today! Vol. 2. Rush began playing in other cities in the United States and in Europe during the 1960s, notably with the American Folk Blues Festival.[9] In 1969, his album Mourning in the Morning was released by Cotillion Records. Recorded at the FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the album was produced by Michael Bloomfield and Nick Gravenites (then of the band Electric Flag). The sound incorporated soul music and rock, a new direction for Rush.[10]

In 1971, Rush recorded the album Right Place, Wrong Time in San Francisco for Capitol Records, but Capitol did not release it. The album was finally issued in 1976, when Rush purchased the master from Capitol and had it released by P-Vine Records in Japan. Bullfrog Records released it in the United States soon after.[3] The album has since gained a reputation as one of his best works.[11][12] He also released some albums for Delmark Records and for Sonet Records in Europe during the 1970s, but by the end of the decade he had stopped performing and recording.[3]

 
Rush performing in 2002

Rush made a comeback in 1985 with a U.S. tour and the release of a live album, Tops, recorded at the San Francisco Blues Festival.[13]

He released Ain't Enough Comin' In in 1994, his first studio album in 16 years.[3][6] Any Place I'm Goin' followed in 1998, and he earned his first Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 1999. Rush did not record a new studio album after 1998 but he continued to tour and perform until 2003, when he suffered a stroke. In 2002, he was featured on the Bo Diddley tribute album Hey Bo Diddley – A Tribute!, performing the song "I'm a Man", produced by Carla Olson. Rush's 2006 album Live...and in Concert from San Francisco, a live recording from 1999, was released by Blues Express Records.[3] Video footage of the same show was released on the DVD Live Part 1 in 2003.[14]

In June 2016, Rush made a rare appearance at the Chicago Blues Festival in Grant Park. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel honored Rush's appearance by declaring June 12 to be Otis Rush Day in Chicago. Due to his ongoing health problems Rush was unable to play, but celebrated on the sidelines with his family who stood around him.[15]

AwardsEdit

Rush was elected to the Blues Hall of Fame in 1984.[2]

In 2015, Rolling Stone ranked Rush number 53 on its 100 Greatest Guitarists list.[16]

The Jazz Foundation of America honored Rush with a Lifetime Achievement Award on April 20, 2018 "for a lifetime of genius and leaving an indelible mark in the world of blues and the universal language of music."[17]

DeathEdit

Rush died on September 29, 2018, from complications of a stroke. His death was announced on his website by his wife Masaki.[1]

Gregg Parker, CEO and a founder of the Chicago Blues Museum said of Rush: "He was one of the last great blues guitar heroes. He was an electric god".[18] Writing in The New York Times, Bill Friskics-Warren said, "A richly emotive singer and a guitarist of great skill and imagination, Mr. Rush was in the vanguard of a small circle of late-1950s innovators, including Buddy Guy and Magic Sam, whose music, steeped in R&B, heralded a new era for Chicago blues."[19]

Selected discographyEdit

Original albumsEdit

Compilation albumsEdit

SinglesEdit

  • 1956 "I Can't Quit You Baby" / "Sit Down Baby" (Cobra 5000)[41]
  • 1956 "My Love Will Never Die" / "Violent Love" (Cobra 5005)[42]
  • 1957 "Groaning the Blues" / "If You Were Mine" (Cobra 5010)[43]
  • 1957 "Jump Sister Bessie" / "Love That Woman" (Cobra 5015)[44]
  • 1957 "She's a Good 'Un" / "Three Times a Fool" (Cobra 5023)[45]
  • 1958 "Checking on My Baby" / "It Takes Time" (Cobra 5027)[46]
  • 1958 "Double Trouble" / "Keep On Loving Me Baby" (Cobra 5030)[47]
  • 1958 "All Your Love (I Miss Loving)" / "My Baby's a Good 'Un" (Cobra 5032)[48]
  • 1960 "So Many Roads So Many Trains" / "I'm Satisfied" (Chess 1751)[49]
  • 1960 "You Know My Love" / "I Can't Stop Baby" (Chess 1775)[50]
  • 1962 "Homework" / "I Have to Laugh" (Duke 356)[51]
  • 1969 "Gambler's Blues" / "You're Killing My Love" (Cotillion 44032)[52]

DVDsEdit

  • 2003 Live Part One (Blues Express)[14]
  • 2006 Live at Montreux 1986 (Eagle Rock Entertainment)[53]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b OtisRush.net. Retrieved 29 September 2018
  2. ^ a b "Otis Rush". Msbluestrail.org. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Dahl, Bill (1934-04-29). "Otis Rush: Biography". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 2015-05-21.
  4. ^ Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues: A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger. p. 119. ISBN 978-0313344237.
  5. ^ a b Joel Whitburn's Top R&B Singles 1942–1988 (Record Research)
  6. ^ a b Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 164. ISBN 1-85868-255-X.
  7. ^ a b "Door to Door - Albert King, Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  8. ^ "Otis Rush: Duke-Peacock Blues" (in Japanese). Members.jcom.home.ne.jp. Archived from the original on 2012-07-12. Retrieved 2015-05-21.
  9. ^ "Keeping The Blues Alive Blues Video of the Week: Otis Rush Performs "I Can't Quit You Baby" - Keeping The Blues Alive". keepingthebluesalive.org. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Mourning in the Morning - Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  11. ^ Chadbourne, Eugene. "Oftis Rush: Right Place, Wrong Time". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 2015-05-21.
  12. ^ "Otis Rush: Right Place, Wrong Time". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2015-05-21.
  13. ^ a b "Tops - Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Part One - Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  15. ^ "LIVE REVIEW: Chicago Blues Festival 2016, Tribute To Otis Rush, Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters, Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater, by Linda Cain". Chicagobluesguide.com. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  16. ^ "100 Greatest Guitarists". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  17. ^ "Jazz Foundation Taps Brittany Howard, Chevy Chase, Bruce Willis, & More For Annual Gala". April 18, 2018. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  18. ^ Press, Associated (September 30, 2018). "Otis Rush, Chicago's 'king of the hill' blues guitarist, dies aged 84". the Guardian. Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  19. ^ "Otis Rush, Influential Blues Singer and Guitarist, Is Dead at 83". Retrieved September 30, 2018.
  20. ^ "This One's a Good Un - Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  21. ^ "Blues Masters, Vol. 2 - Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  22. ^ "Screamin' & Cryin' - Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  23. ^ "Cold Day in Hell - Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  24. ^ "So Many Roads: Live in Concert - Otis Rush - Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  25. ^ "Right Place, Wrong Time - Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  26. ^ "Troubles, Troubles - Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  27. ^ "Blues Interaction Live In Japan 1986 — Otis Rush - Last.fm". Last.fm. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  28. ^ "Lost in the Blues - Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  29. ^ "Live in Europe - Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  30. ^ "Ain't Enough Comin' In - Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  31. ^ "Any Place I'm Going - Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  32. ^ "Otis Rush Live... And In Concert from San Francisco - Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  33. ^ "Otis Rush: Chicago Blues Festival 2001". bluesginza.web.fc2.com. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  34. ^ a b "Double Trouble: Live Cambridge 1973 - Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  35. ^ "I Can't Quit You Baby: The Complete Cobra Sessions - Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  36. ^ a b "Good 'Un's: The Classic Cobra Recordings 1956-1958 - Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  37. ^ "The Essential Otis Rush - Otis Rush - User Reviews - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  38. ^ "Blue on Blues - Buddy Guy, Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  39. ^ "All Your Love I Miss Loving: Live at the Wise Fools Pub Chicago - Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  40. ^ "Live at Montreux 1986 - Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  41. ^ "Otis Rush - I Can´t Quit You Baby". Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  42. ^ "Otis Rush And His Band - My Love Will Never Die". Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  43. ^ "Otis Rush - Groaning The Blues". Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  44. ^ "Otis Rush - Love That Woman". Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  45. ^ "Otis Rush And Willie Dixon Band - Three Times A Fool". Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  46. ^ "Otis Rush - It Takes Time". Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  47. ^ "Double Trouble — Otis Rush (Cobra, 1958)". Blues Foundation. November 10, 2016. Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  48. ^ "Otis Rush And His Band - All Your Love (I Miss Loving)". Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  49. ^ "Otis Rush - So Many Roads, So Many Trains". Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  50. ^ "Otis Rush - You Know My Love". Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  51. ^ "Otis Rush - Homework". Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  52. ^ "Otis Rush - Gambler's Blues". Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  53. ^ "Otis Rush & Friends: Live At Montreux 1986 [DVD] - Otis Rush - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2018.

External linksEdit