By Steve Newton
I’ve interviewed a lot of legendary blues guitarists over the years. B.B. King, Albert King, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Stevie Ray Vaughan–they don’t get much more famous than that.
But I’ve also managed to score time with lesser-known blues artists who–though not as familiar to the average music fan–have been very influential in their own right.
One of those is Otis Rush, the quintessential Chicago bluesman. He made his name as a young player in the blues clubs on the South Side and the West Side of the city, and at 21 scored his first hit with the Willie Dixon-penned “I Can’t Quit You Baby”. His other singles include “Homework” (which the J. Geils Band recorded to fine effect on “Live” Full House) and “Double Trouble”, which Stevie Ray liked so much that he named his band after it.
But perhaps Rush’s most significant song is 1958’s “All Your Love (I Miss Loving)”, which has been covered by some of my fave guitarists, including SRV, Gary Moore, Buddy Guy, Rick Derringer, and Eric Clapton (when he was in John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers.)
I called Otis up at his home in Chicago in June of 1997, when he was 62, and at one point I asked him about the high points of his career (getting his first record out) and the lows (“not being a great big star”).
He sounded like the real deal to me.
Have a listen: