Otis Rush Biography

29 April 1934, Philadelphia, Mississippi, USA. A left-handed blues guitarist, Rush moved to Chicago where his impassioned singing and playing on ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’ brought a Top 10 R&B hit in 1956. He became one of the ‘young turks’ of the Chicago scene together with Buddy Guy, Freddie King and Magic Sam. ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’ and other Cobra Records recordings (‘Double Trouble’, ‘All Your Love’) from the same era inspired British guitarists such as Peter Green, Eric Clapton and Mick Taylor, who strived to recreate the starkly emotive quality of his solos. John Mayall opened the pivotal Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton with ‘All Your Love’ and continued by making Rush more widely known in the UK with recordings of ‘So Many Roads’, ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’ (also recorded by Led Zeppelin) and ‘Double Trouble’.

In the early 60s, Rush recorded for Chess Records and Duke where ‘So Many Roads’ and ‘Homework’ became his best-known songs. As blues declined in popularity with black audiences, he turned increasingly to college concerts and collaborations with white blues artists such as Mike Bloomfield, with whom he made an album for Cotillion in 1969. During the 70s, Rush toured Europe and Japan, recording in Sweden, France and Japan as well as making two albums for Chicago-based label Delmark Records. Right Place, Wrong Time had been made in 1971 for Capitol Records with producer Nick Gravenites, but was only issue five years later. Rush performed and toured less frequently in the 80s, although an album made at the 1985 San Francisco Blues Festival showed him to be on top form.

Rush’s influence has always been greater than his commercial standing and like Buddy Guy, his former stablemate at Chess, he has become a guitarist’s guitarist. In the blues boom of the early 90s Rush was tagged to benefit in a similar way to John Lee Hooker and Buddy Guy. John Porter, the producer of Guy’s excellent Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues, was enlisted to work on 1994’s Ain’t Enough Comin’ In. On this, his best work for many a year, Rush demonstrated total confidence and experience and was well supported by Mick Weaver (organ), Bill Payne (piano) and Greg Rzab (bass). The 1998 studio follow-up Any Place I’m Going, recorded for new label House Of Blues, continued the good run with some excellent brass backing adding a thick layer to Rush’s blend of soul and blues.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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