Otis Rush

Breaking into the R&B Top Ten his very first time out in 1956 with the startlingly intense slow blues "I Can't Quit You Baby," southpaw guitarist Otis Rush subsequently established himself as one of the premier bluesmen on the Chicago circuit. Rush is often credited with being one of the architects of the West side guitar style, along with Magic Sam and Buddy Guy. It's a nebulous honor, since Rush played clubs on Chicago's South side just as frequently during the sound's late-'50s incubation period. Nevertheless, his esteemed status as a prime Chicago innovator is eternally assured by the ringing, vibrato-enhanced guitar work that remains his stock in trade and a tortured, super-intense vocal delivery that can force the hairs on the back of your neck upwards in silent salute. If talent alone were the formula for widespread success, Rush would certainly have been Chicago's leading blues artist. But fate, luck, and the guitarist's own idiosyncrasies conspired to hold him back on several occasions when opportunity was virtually begging to be accepted.