Remembering Otis Rush

Otis Rush died September 29. Photo courtesy Getty.
Remembering The Genius Of Otis Rush

Blues legend Otis Rush died September 29, so we thought this would be a good week to look back at his influential life and career, spanning over six decades. Perhaps not as well known as others in the Chicago scene of his day, he nonetheless helped patent the Chicago Blues, in particular, the West Side Blues, with a style that influenced a wide swath of the music world for generations.

Early on, Rush was inspired by the playing of Muddy Waters, moving to the city in the late 1940s after being inspired by Waters’ Chicago playing. The first single Rush recorded, “I Can’t Quit You Baby”, is a blues staple. 

The left-handed Rush had a sound as unique as his playing style, stringing the low E at the bottom with the high E string on the top, opening up a whole new way for him to bend his notes. 

The influence is far-reaching, from Eric Clapton to Led Zeppelin and nearly every virtuoso in between. In fact, Stevie Ray Vaughn named his band after a famous song of Rush’s – “Double Trouble” was released in 1958. 

None other than Clapton himself puts Rush in perspective. In an interview with NPR, Clapton said:  “He got the sound that nobody else got.” He went further: “You can’t make the guitar do the things that they were able to do. And Otis had that voice, too. I mean, just a powerful voice.”

This week begins with “I Can’t Quit You Baby” and takes a look at some of his songs that were made famous by Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, and more.

Listen to all the songs from Music 101 below:

All the songs heard on Music 101 this week:

Otis Rush | “I Can’t Quit You Baby”
Otis Rush | “Groaning The Blues”
Otis Rush | “She’s A Good ‘Un”
Otis Rush | “Double Trouble”
Otis Rush | “So Many Roads, So Many Trains”
Otis Rush (with Duane Allman) | “Reap What You Sow”
Led Zeppelin | “I Can’t Quit You Baby”
Fleetwood Mac | “Black Magic Woman”
Otis Rush & Eric Clapton | “All Your Lovin’ (live)”
J. Geils Band | “Homework (live)”
Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters | “Blues For Otis Rush”

Here’s the full episode: