Chicago Blues

Otis Rush was an influential American blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter known for his distinctive guitar style and emotionally charged vocal performances. He was a central figure in the Chicago blues scene and left a lasting impact on the genre. Here are some key points about Otis Rush:

  1. Early Life and Background: Otis Rush was born on April 29, 1934, in Philadelphia, Mississippi. He grew up in a musical family and was exposed to the blues at an early age, often listening to blues records on the family's wind-up gramophone.
  2. Move to Chicago: In the early 1950s, Otis Rush relocated to Chicago, Illinois, a city that was a hotspot for blues music. There, he quickly immersed himself in the city's vibrant blues scene, which included legendary figures like Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.
  3. Guitar Style: Otis Rush was known for his distinctive guitar playing. He played a left-handed guitar turned upside down and strung with the low E string at the bottom. This unconventional technique contributed to his unique sound, characterized by sharp, piercing lead guitar lines and emotive string bends.
  4. Recording Career: Rush began recording for Cobra Records in the late 1950s. Some of his most famous songs include "I Can't Quit You Baby," "All Your Love (I Miss Loving)," and "Double Trouble." These recordings are considered classics of Chicago blues.
  5. Influence on Blues-Rock: Otis Rush's guitar work and vocal style had a significant impact on the development of blues-rock music. His music influenced guitarists like Eric Clapton and Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac, who incorporated Rush's techniques into their own playing.
  6. Health Challenges: Rush experienced health issues throughout his life, including a stroke in 2003 that affected his ability to perform. Despite these challenges, he continued to make occasional live appearances and recordings.
  7. Awards and Recognition: Otis Rush received numerous awards and honors for his contributions to the blues genre, including a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 1999 for his album "Any Place I'm Going."
  8. Late Career and Legacy: Otis Rush's impact on the blues genre is enduring. His expressive guitar solos and passionate vocal performances continue to inspire blues musicians and fans alike. His music remains an essential part of the blues canon.
  9. Death: Otis Rush passed away on September 29, 2018, at the age of 84. His death marked the end of an era in Chicago blues, but his music and legacy continue to be celebrated and cherished by blues enthusiasts and musicians.

Otis Rush's contributions to the blues genre, his innovative guitar style, and his soulful vocals have left an indelible mark on the history of American music. His recordings remain essential listening for anyone interested in the blues, and his influence on subsequent generations of musicians is immeasurable.