Chicago Blues Giant, Otis Rush, Dies at 84
R.I.P. to the six-string siren
Otis Rush, the Chicago blues giant with a pedigreed hand and an unheralded squall, passed last night of complications from stroke sustained in 2003, according to a statement from his wife, Masaki Rush. He was 84 years old.
Rush is widely considered one of the architects of the electric blues as we know them. Originally from Philadelphia, Mississippi, the self-taught guitarist was an adopted son of Chicago, shipping out to the Midwestern hub upon seeing Muddy Waters perform; a life-altering moment that convinced him to pursue music as a primary vocation.
Once settled, Rush cut some of the coldest standards in the blues canon, including “Double Trouble,” a track with myriad recalibrations since its initial release in 1958 on Cobra Records, later inspiring the name of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s band. His first single for the Windy City label, “I Can’t Quit You Baby,” was his highest-charting release, topping out at number 5 on Billboard’s R&B chart in 1956. His blues invoked far more highs than lows and he’ll be missed as a stalwart presence on the touring circuit.
Watch a soaring live performance “I Can’t Quit You Baby” below.