This weekend, Otis Rush will celebrate his 81st birthday and although a stroke has kept him from performing for many years, his influence on American music continues unabated. Whether it's Joe Bonamassa, Gary Clark Jr.
, or a teenage blues phenom we have yet to hear, every great guitarist who finds their voice in the blues will at one time or another bump against the colossal sound of Otis Rush.
Rush's incredible chops, searing tone, and impassioned voice brought a whole new attitude to Chicago blues in the late 50s and he did it all on his Cherry Red Epiphone Riviera (Rush was left handed and played with the lighter strings on top). If you want to know who Mike Bloomfield, Mick Taylor, and Eric Clapton were thinking of when they made their first records, the simple answer is Otis Rush. (You can probably put Paul McCartney in that club as well judging by his solos on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Taxman.") Happy Birthday, Otis!