Otis Rush - Truly One of the Great Ones - RIP
I first saw Otis Rush at my "blues awakening", the incredible 1970 Ann Arbor Blues Festival when I was 19 years old. Into 1971 I began hearing various blues artists in Madison, Wisconsin where I attended the University of Wisconsin.
The Chicken Little Blues Cooperative which I helped co-found brought Hound Dog Taylor, Howlin Wolf with Mississippi Fred McDowell (separately), and Otis Rush's contemporary West Side Chicago Jimmy "Fast Fingers" Dawkins to The University of Wisconsin.
A local bar also brought several Chicago Blues Greats including Muddy Waters and Otis Rush. I loved Otis's gentle, strong melodic voice and his wonderful guitar playing. My favorite song from my beginning my love of his music was always: All Your Love (I Miss Loving) - it even has a Wikipedia Page - see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Your_Love_(I_Miss_Loving) . On You Tube one should particularly enjoy the original, 1958 Cobra Recording - a masterpiece. Bob Koester just told me that the tenor sax player for the Cobra sessions moved next to the Duke Ellington Band.
I talked with one of the band members during a break. He told me that The Otis Rush Band played the first weekend of every month at Alice's Revisited (on Wrightwood, by Lincoln Avenue in Chicago) and that because it was Not a bar, all ages could get in.
I began going down to Chicago each month to see Otis Rush perform. One of my first times there I remember the drummer Bobby "Top Hat" Davis - said upon my questioning; "No, I'm not __, I'm his brother." It was always wonderful to sit close to the stage mesmerized by his performing.
A few years later I remember talking at West Side bars with his base player Ernie Gatewood, who was a wonderful man.
I last remember seeing Otis Rush perform at Chicago Fest - at Navy Pier. This was a disappointing performance for me. Rush had some fairly severe mental difficulties. During this performance, he obviously got lost in his issues and played the same, short riff many, many times in a row, obviously unaware of what he was doing.
That should not detract from my memories of what a wonderful performer Otis Rush was. His recordings generally didn't anywhere near show his prowess as a musician. He was lesser known than Buddy Guy - a second of the wonderful Cobra Records West Side Stars of 1956-1958 along with the Great Magic Sam.
Otis Rush, despite his major stroke of 2003, outlived many of his contemporaries such as Jimmy Dawkins, Eddy Clearwater, Luther Allison and Mighty Joe Young. I will always remember the wonderful music he gave us all! Fortunately - we can hear much of his music on You Tube and elsewhere.