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Otis Rush (born April 29, 1934 in Philadelphia, Mississippi) is a blues musician, singer and guitarist. His distinctive guitar style features a slow burning sound, jazz-style arpeggios and long bent notes. With similar qualities to Luther Allison, Magic Sam, Buddy Guy and Albert King, his sound became known as West Side Chicago Blues and became an influence on Michael Bloomfield,Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Stevie Ray Vaughan..
Rush is left-handed and, unlike many left-handed guitarists, plays a right-handed instrument upside-down without restringing it. It is widely believed that this contributes to his distinctive sound. Other guitarists who use this method include Albert King, Dick Dale, Doyle Bramhall II, Coco Montoya and Lefty Dizz. He has a wide-ranging, powerful tenor voice.
After Cobra Records went bankrupt in 1959, Rush landed a contract with Chess Records in 1960. He recorded eight tracks for the label, but none of them were released at the time. (six tracks came out on "Door To Door" album, a compilation with Albert King in 1969) He also went into the studio for Duke Records in 1962, but only one single "Homework" (known to rock fans by a cover done by The J. Geils Band) b/w "I Have To Laugh" (Duke 356) was released from the label. In 1965, he recorded for Vanguard which can be heard on the label's compilation album Chicago/The Blues/Today! Vol.2.
In the 1960s, Rush began playing in other cities in the U.S. and also to Europe, most notably the American Folk Blues Festival.
In 1969, the album Mourning in the Morning was released on Cotillion Records. Recorded at the FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the album was produced by Michael Bloomfield and Nick Gravenites of Electric Flag. The sound that incorporated soul and rock was a brand new direction for Rush.
In 1971, Rush recorded the album Right Place, Wrong Time in San Francisco for Capitol Records, but Capitol decided not to release it. The album was finally released in 1976 when Rush purchased the master from Capitol and had it released by P-Vine Records in Japan. Bullfrog Records released it in the U.S. soon after. The album generally has since gained a reputation as one of the best works by Rush.
In the 1970s, he also released some albums from Delmark Records and also from Sonet Records in Europe, but by the end of the decade, he literally stopped performing and recording.
In 1994, Rush released Ain't Enough Comin' In, the first newly recorded studio album in 16 years. Any Place I'm Goin' followed in 1998, and Rush earned his first Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 1999.
Though he has not recorded a new studio album since 1998, he continued to tour and perform. In 2002, he was featured on the Bo Diddley tribute album Hey Bo Diddley - A Tribute!, performing the song "I'm A Man".
However, he suffered a stroke in 2004 which has kept him from performing since. It has been reported that he has since recovered, (albeit not to the extent that would allow resuming his career).
In 2006, Rush released his latest CD, Live and From San Francisco on Blues Express Records, a live recording from 1999. A video footage of the same show had been released as DVD Live Part 1 in 2003 from the label.
Rush has two daughters, Lena and Sophia