CHICAGO (CelebrityAccess) — Otis Rush, a pioneering Chicago blues artist, whose distinctive style influenced artists from Peter Green to Eric Clapton, died on Saturday from complications of a stroke he suffered in 2003. He was 84.
Known as a key figure in the development of what would come to be known as the Chicago “West Side Sound’ Rush exemplified the modernized minor key urban blues style with, amplified jazz-influenced guitar playing, distinctive vocals, and backing by a full horn section.
Rush’s first recording in 1956 on Cobra Records ‘I Can’t Quit You Baby’ reached #6 on the Billboard R&B Charts and catapulted him to international acclaim. He went on to record a catalog of music that contains many songs that are now considered blues classics.
A native of Mississippi, Rush followed in the footsteps of other blues greats like Muddy Waters and relocated to Chicago in 1949. He quickly garnered a reputation performing in clubs on the city’s South and West sides.
He began his recording career with the indie Cobra Records, scoring early hits with “Double Trouble” and “All Your Love (I Miss Loving).”
Starting in 1959, he recorded for a series of more prominent labels, including Chess and Vanguard, and during the blues revival in the 1960s, he began touring, both in the U.S. and abroad, including at the American Folk Blues Festival, which toured Europe and the San Francisco Blues Festival in 1985, as part of a comeback tour.
He continued to tour until 2003 when he suffered a debilitating stroke.
In 2009, he appeared at the Chicago Blues Festival during which time Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel declared June 12 to be Otis Rush Day in Chicago. However, Rush was unable to perform at the time due to health issues.
Rush won the Grammy in 1999 for his 1998 album “Any Place I’m Goin'” which was to be his final studio album. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1984 and honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Jazz Foundation earlier this year.