Outrageous, entertaining, flamboyant, soulful! These are just a few of the exclamations from critics and fans who have witnessed the incredible Bobby Rush in concert. His energetic performances are legendary and his show stopping revue, which includes several female dancers, is always the highlight of any festival he performs at.
Born Emmit Ellis Jr. in Homer, Louisiana on November 10, 1940, Bobby was just six when he fashioned a guitar out of old broom wire and began listening to the artists who would have the greatest influence on him. Rush later recalled, "Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf influenced me from their stage presence. B.B. King influenced me as an artist. Louis Jordan really inspired me lyrically and influenced my writing. He was swift with lyrics and I like a lot of lyrics. Little Walter influenced me as a harmonica player and Ray Charles influenced me as an entertainer."
In 1953 Rush moved to Chicago with his family where he began playing in clubs and soon emerged on the West Side blues circuit of the 1960s, fronting bands which included such notable guitarists as Luther Allison and Freddie King. However, as Rush began to develop his own individual sound, he opted to forgo the blues market in favor of targeting the chitlin circuit, which offered a more receptive audience for his increasingly bawdy material. He notched his first hit in 1971 with his single "Chicken Heads," and appeared on a wide variety of labels throughout the 70’s and 80's as he continued his almost "non-stop" touring. During the mid-1990s, Rush moved to Waldoxy, heralding a return to a more soul-blues sound on albums including One Monkey Don't Stop No Show.
For the past four decades Rush has been thrilling audiences around the world with his stellar showmanship, and with the release of his current album, "Southern Soul" (with Lynn White on Cannonball Records), he shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, he is expanding his market from the chitlin circuit throughout the south to more mainstream blues clubs around the country. Bobby Rush has crafted a unique musical style that incorporates blues, funk, soul and folk. As Rush explains, "If you listen to my music you can hear a little jazz, a little rock, a little gospel, and I think I tell a good story. I’m known as the lyric doctor." Living Blues Magazine has honored Bobby Rush with the "Best Live Performer of the Year" Award several times including 1999 – and with good reason, Rush is one of the most visual performers you will ever see and once you have seen Bobby Rush perform you will never forget him.