Otis Rush, a legendary Chicago blues guitarist whose work influenced the likes of Carlos Santana and Eric Clapton, has died. He was 84.
Rush’s manager Rick Bates confirmed his death to the Associated Press. He said it was as a result of complications from a 2003 stroke.
Rush, who began playing guitar when he moved to Chicago from Philadelphia, Miss., found fame in 1956 with his first single for Cobra Records “I Can’t Quit You Baby,” which reached No. 6 on the Billboard R&B charts. He was instrumental in establishing the trademark Chicago “West Side Sound,” which brought the more modern sensibilities of jazz to traditional blues.
“He was king of the hill in Chicago from the late 1950s into the 1970s and even the ’80s as a live artist,” said Bates.
He won a Grammy in 1999 for traditional blues recording for “Any Place I’m Going,” and he was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1984.
Rush was well-known for wearing a cowboy hat when he performed, and in his early days, sometimes played his guitar upside down. Notably, Rush was left-handed, using his right hand to fret. His guitars were strung in reverse, with the low E on the bottom.
He is survived by his wife, Masaki Rush, eight children, and numerous grand- and great grandchildren.