Revered by blues and rock musicians’ alike, legendary guitarist/vocalist Otis Rush is perhaps the most intense, soulful bluesman of his era. Since the 1950s when he had his first chart topping hit on Cobra Records, “I Can’t Quit You Baby,” Rush has gone on to influence musicians such as, Michael Bloomfield, Peter Green, Eric Clapton, Santana, Luther Allison, Jeff Beck, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Rush, along with Buddy Guy and Magic Sam, pioneered the “West Side sound,” a minor-key sound, characterized by impassioned gospel-tinged vocals, and bursts of arpeggio guitar riffs. His unique approach is offset by his left-handed technique – playing the guitar upside-down and backwards, Rush bends the strings downward for dramatic effect.
Born in Philadelphia, Mississippi in 1935, Rush is a self-taught musician who began playing the guitar at the age of eight. Moving to Chicago in 1949, he was introduced to the more urban sounds of the blues. He made the decision to become a performer after he saw Muddy Waters for the first time. Rush’s impact on the local scene was immediate. His sophisticated approach to the blues won the admiration of his peers, who sought to emulate his playing. Waters himself, became a devotee. Citing Otis as one of the deepest of deep bluesmen, he commented to Robert Palmer in Deep Blues, “he’s so good, man.”
Otis recorded other classic sides for Cobra during the labels’ brief history. From 1956 to ‘58, he wrote and recorded the minor key masterpiece, “Double Trouble,” the devastating, “My Love Will Never Die,” the insightful “Three Times A Fool,” the passionate “Keep On Loving Me Baby,” and the Earl Hooker inspired, “All Your Love (I Miss Loving).” Produced by Willie Dixon, Rush recorded on Chicago’s west side, with a combo featuring Ike Turner on guitar, Big Walter Horton and Little Walter on harmonica, and Little Brother Montgomery on piano. Eli Toscano, Cobra’s co-owner, was a gambler and lost the label in 1959.
Otis went on to record for Chess and Duke, Aside from releasing the classic “So Many Roads,” for Chess, and “Homework,” for Duke the labels chose not to mine his enormous talent. They kept his career in limbo until the mid-sixties, when he participated in sessions for Vanguard Records on the popular anthology, Chicago-The Blues-Today! Under the auspices of Michael Bloomfield and Nick Gravenites, Otis recorded the underrated album Mourning in the Morning, in 1969, with the Muscle Shoals rhythm section. The track “Reap What You Sow,” with its hair-raising emotional intensity is a cornerstone of modern Chicago blues.
As blues-derived rock dominated the charts throughout the 70s and 80s, Rush toured throughout the world and at home, but went shamefully under-recorded. In 1971 he recorded the gem Right Place, Wrong Time, for Capitol Records. Inexplicably, the album remained in the vaults until it was picked up five years later by the tiny Bullfrog label.
Finally, in 1994, Otis returned to the studio with a vengeance. He recorded the critically acclaimed (and Grammy nominated) album Ain’t Enough Comin’ In, for producer John Porter on Mercury Records. In 1998 he recorded the Grammy Award winning Any Place I’m Going, produced by legendary Memphis producer Willie Mitchell. Over the past few years, Otis has appeared on albums by Peter Green and John Mayall, and contributed songs to Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, and Bo Diddley tribute albums. Two recent and wildly popular releases (2006), All Your Love I Miss Loving-Live At The Wise Fools Pub, Chicago, recorded in 1976, and the CD/DVD set Otis Rush and Friends: Live At Montreux 1986, with Eric Clapton, and Luther Allison, revisit stunning moments in blues history. Throughout a career lasting six decades, Otis Rush remains the quintessential blues man. Written by Beverly Zeldin-Palmer
“All Your Love (I Miss Loving)”
“Cold Day In Hell”
“Groaning The Blues”
“I Can’t Quit You Baby”
“It’s My Own Fault”
“Keep On Lovin’ Me Baby”
“Reap What You Sow”
“Right Place Wrong Time”
“So Many Roads”
“Will My Woman Be Home Tonight (Blue Guitar)”
2006 “Otis Rush and Friends: Live at Montreux 1986” – (Experience Hendrix/Eagle Records)
w/Eric Clapton and Luther Allison
Also available on DVD
2005 “All Your Love I Miss Loving” – (Delmark Records)
Live at The Wise Fools Pub in Chicago 1976
2000 “The Essential Otis Rush: The Classic Cobra Recordings 1956-58” – (Fuel 2000)
1998 “Any Place I’m Going” – (House Of Blues Records)
1994 “Ain’t Enough Comin’ In” – (This Way Up/Mercury Records)
1988 “Tops” – (Blind Pig Records)
Live at The 1985 San Francisco Blues Festival
1976 “Right Place Wrong Time” – (Hightone)
1975 “Cold Day In Hell” – (Delmark)
1970 “Door To Door” – (Chess/Universal)
All the late 1950’s Chess Singles of Otis Rush and Albert King
1969 “Mourning In The Morning” – (Cotillion/Atlantic)
The music of the legendary OTIS RUSH
A celebration of Rush’s 70th birthday took place in early May at Buddy Guy’s Legends. Guest performers included Chicago blues royalty, namely; Buddy Guy, Lonnie Brooks, Billy Branch, Eddie Clearwater, Otis Clay, Syl Johnson and others. Downbeat Magazine was there for the festivities.
“Brightly colored balloons would ordinarily seem out of place at a blues club, but the birthday tribute to the influential guitarist Otis Rush was not a typical night.”
For more information visit The Official Otis Rush Website.
Blues legend OTIS RUSH has engaged Bates Meyer, Inc. for assistance with special projects including royalty rights. Both an emotional vocalist and a distinctive guitarist in the Chicago tradition, through the years Rush has created a body of work praiseworthy of recognition and attention. We recently finalized negotiations that will provide Rush with artist royalties from his classic Cobra masters, produced by Willie Dixon. Recorded in the 1950’s, these masters changed hands over the years, remaining a catalog staple for various labels, with no financial benefit going to the artist. Our involvement has ensured that Rush and his family will now receive ongoing royalties from those historic recordings which include the definitive version of “I Can’t Quit You Baby,” along with “All Your Love (I Miss Loving)” and “Double Trouble.”