Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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RUSH, Otis

(b 29 April '34, Philadelphia MS) Blues singer, plays harmonica, guitar, drums. Raised on farm, self- taught on guitar from age eight; to Chicago '48, worked outside music at first, formed group as Little Otis for gigs, soon at forefront of Chicago blues scene. Recorded for Cobra '56--8, Chess '60, Duke '62, Vanguard '65 (Vol. 2 of Chicago blues compilations). Own LPs This One's A Good Un '68 and Otis Rush '72 on Blue Horizon, Mourning In The Morning '69 on Cotillion/Atco, Right Place, Wrong Time '71 on Capitol/Bullfrog (reissued '86 on Hightone; with a hot horn section, this was his favourite among his own albums). Also Screaming And Crying '74 on French Black and Blue (later on Evidence), Cold Day In Hell '76 and So Many Roads '78 on Delmark (the latter live in Japan); he also recorded with Jimmy Dawkins on Delmark '71. Also at Ann Arbor Blues Festival '72, tracks on Atlantic; Japanese tour '74--5 recorded and partly issued as Blues Live on Trio; concert in Sweden '77 on Sonet LP Troubles, Troubles; Door To Door with Albert King was on Chess. He had bad luck with record labels and business decisions, briefly retired early '80s; he is said to lack charisma on stage, but his singing and playing have been as good as the best and massively influential (on Buddy Guy, for example). Music like Rush's is still presented as a backdrop to selling drinks and shooting pool at clubs like Chicago's Blues Etc, putting a premium on charisma. Tops '85 on Blind Pig was also recorded live; also Live And Awesome from Europe on Genes and Live In Europe on Evidence; more albums were Lost In The Blues '91 on Alligator, Ain't Enough Comin' In '94 on Mercury.