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Otis Rush

Breaking into the R&B Top Ten his very first time out in 1956 with the startlingly intense slow blues "I Can't Quit You Baby," southpaw guitarist Otis Rush subsequently established himself as one of the premier bluesmen on the Chicago circuit. Rush is often credited with being one of the architects of the West side guitar style, along with Magic Sam and Buddy Guy. It's a nebulous honor, since Rush played clubs on Chicago's South side just as frequently during the sound's late-'50s incubation period. Nevertheless, his esteemed status as a prime Chicago innovator is eternally assured by the ringing, vibrato-enhanced guitar work that remains his stock in trade and a tortured, super-intense vocal delivery that can force the hairs on the back of your neck upwards in silent salute. If talent alone were the formula for widespread success, Rush would certainly have been Chicago's leading blues artist. But fate, luck, and the guitarist's own idiosyncrasies conspired to hold him back on several occasions when opportunity was virtually begging to be accepted.

Rush came to Chicago in 1948, met Muddy Waters, and knew instantly what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. The omnipresent Willie Dixon caught Rush's act and signed him to Eli Toscano's Cobra Records in 1956. The frighteningly intense "I Can't Quit You Baby" was the maiden effort for both artist and label, streaking to number six on Billboard's R&B chart. His 1956-1958 Cobra legacy is a magnificent one, distinguished by the Dixon-produced minor-key masterpieces "Double Trouble" and "My Love Will Never Die," the tough-as-nails "Three Times a Fool" and "Keep on Loving Me Baby," and the rhumba-rocking classic "All Your Love (I Miss Loving)." Rush apparently dashed off the latter tune in the car en route to Cobra's West Roosevelt Road studios, where he would cut it with the nucleus of Ike Turner's combo.

After Cobra closed up shop, Rush's recording fortunes mostly floundered. He followed Dixon over to Chess in 1960, cutting another classic (the stunning "So Many Roads, So Many Trains") before moving on to Duke (one solitary single, 1962's "Homework"), Vanguard, and Cotillion (there he cut the underrated Mike Bloomfield-Nick Gravenites-produced 1969 album Mourning in the Morning, with yeoman help from the house rhythm section in Muscle Shoals). Typical of Rush's horrendous luck was the unnerving saga of his Right Place, Wrong Time album. Laid down in 1971 for Capitol Records, the giant label inexplicably took a pass on the project despite its obvious excellence. It took another five years for the set to emerge on the tiny Bullfrog label, blunting Rush's momentum once again (the album is now available on HighTone). An uneven but worthwhile 1975 set for Delmark, Cold Day in Hell, and a host of solid live albums that mostly sound very similar kept Rush's gilt-edged name in the marketplace to some extent during the '70s and '80s, a troubling period for the legendary southpaw.

In 1986, he walked out on an expensive session for Rooster Blues (Louis Myers, Lucky Peterson, and Casey Jones were among the assembled sidemen), complaining that his amplifier didn't sound right and thereby scuttling the entire project. Alligator picked up the rights to an album he had done overseas for Sonet originally called Troubles, Troubles. It turned out to be a prophetic title: much to Rush's chagrin, the firm overdubbed keyboardist Lucky Peterson and chopped out some masterful guitar work when it reissued the set as Lost in the Blues in 1991.

Finally, in 1994, the career of this Chicago blues legend began traveling in the right direction. Ain't Enough Comin' In, his first studio album in 16 years, was released on Mercury and ended up topping many blues critics' year-end lists. Produced spotlessly by John Porter with a skin-tight band, Rush roared a set of nothing but covers, but did them all his way, his blistering guitar consistently to the fore.

Once again, a series of personal problems threatened to end Rush's long-overdue return to national prominence before it got off the ground. But he's been in top-notch form in recent years, fronting a tight band that's entirely sympathetic to the guitarist's sizzling approach. Rush signed with the House of Blues' fledgling record label, instantly granting that company a large dose of credibility and setting himself up for another career push. It still may not be too late for Otis Rush to assume his rightful throne as Chicago's blues king. After another decade performing and recording albums, Live and in Concert from San Fransisco was released in 2006. ~ Bill Dahl, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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bill_heinick e
Happy Birthday Otis - thanks for everything
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No collection of blues artists is even near complete without something by Mr Otis Rush! A true bluesman all the way! I'm a fan for 40 yrs. Never disappointed ever! That's hard to say only because its hard to find!
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Feels like home, heaven.
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I love the blues but Steve ray is the men
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I like Otis Rush, but Tad Robinson is the guy
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I love the Blues
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OTIS CAN REALLY BRING IT!!!
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umhmmm...
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Amazing sound, difficult if not impossible to duplicate.
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Otis + Blues = awesome!
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I like...I like a lot....
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Old school blues awesome..... .
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Way Cool, guitar wizard
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So strong grabs a hold of me
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i love this song
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love Otis!!
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oh, yeah good blues
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oh
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really guuud
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Classic
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coleman3.edw i n
Love you Otis! Love the blues! American music!
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Serenity
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Met Otis at Antone's in Austin sometime in the mid-80s -- man, he could tear it up! Fun fun shows. My buddies called him Black Bart 'cause of his black cowboy hat & black clothes. Listening to him right now live in Montreaux in '86 with Luther Allison & Eric Clapton! Saw him play once with both the Vaughan brothers. Magic.
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SO FREAKIN GREAT!!!!!!! ! ! :-D
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Make me cry like a baby Otis Rush, ya done me so good!
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He must've been awesome to see live....Stev i e Ray Vaughan named part of his hand for one of Otis's song...Doubl e Trouble.... Live on Otis live on
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awesome i have some songs of All you love i miss missing!! ;) they are very good
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I loves this having a good time tonite
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Great blues! Speaks to my gut!
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Love him, but I WISH they'd include the other musicians' names!! Please!!
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Unbelievable artist.....L o v e Otis XO!
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upside down and backwards... t h a t could be my life in a nutshell
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if we got no blues ,whats it all about
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yes man..need more listening on him.
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lol
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kvons1
Left handed upside down strung guitar---low E on the bottom.
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dianedaniels 7 5
I love the blues Otis is throwingdow. Wow
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i love this music
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lulubugs52
All his life , right place wrong time
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Sounds awesome!!
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Raw blues power...a double bladed axe
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One of the true classic blues artists. Saw him at a small club in NYC years ago and loved it. Great guitarist and great vocalist.
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kvons1
Otis Rush----clas s i c great blues-man.
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Wish I could have seen him live Jonny Lang is the best I could do Shame!!!
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His words sounds like each one of us could have learned from past deeds ( love turn to hate )
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thii guy pritty good ! gary eastman
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ewaldsa
Saw Otis in a Santa Monica dive some years ago. Opening act was some young band just getting started with a really good lead guitar. Towards the end of Otis' act, he called the kid up for a little guitar battle and they rocked the house! When they finished, the kid was crying like a baby and Otis had a smile a mile wide on his face. None of us will ever forget that night especially the kid.
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Oh hell yes!
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dhargest2000
This is the real deal
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scottcampbel l 1 9 5 8
Otis Rush is a god.
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