Remembering Otis Rush

April 29, 1935 – September 29, 2018

The great bluesman is remembered

Blues singer and guitarist Otis Rush passed away on September 29, 2018 at the age of 83.

Born April 29, 1935 in Philadelphia, Mississippi, Rush was one of seven children born to a poor family that worked in the fields.

After playing a little bit of harmonica, Rush taught himself the guitar when he was eight.

In 1949 at 14, he moved to Chicago, took guitar lessons, and worked in steel mills, stockyards and as a truck driver.

Four years later, he began appearing in clubs (billed as “Little Otis”), developing quickly and being signed to the Cobra label in 1956.

Otis Rush had a difficult life for years, with record deals that went bad, labels that went bankrupt and an erratic performing career but his inventive guitar playing was cited as an early influence on Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Winter and Duane Allman.

Rush finally had success in the 1980s and ‘90s, getting recognition for his 1999 album Any Place I’m Going.

Otis Rush’s career ended in 2003 when he suffered a stroke.

Here is Otis Rush performing a powerful version of “I Can’t Quit You Baby.”

-Scott Yanow