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How Could You Do It To Me

Little Milton & Bobby Rush

 

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Emmit Ellis Jr.

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Little Milton (guitar & vocals), and Bobby Rush (harmonica & vocals), perform in Memphis, Tennessee for the 1997 Memphis Blues Festival.

Born Emmit Ellis Jr. in Homer, Louisiana, the man later known as Bobby Rush was the son a pastor Ellis Sr. whose guitar and harmonica playing provided early musical influences. As a young child he began experimenting with music using a sugar-cane syrup-bucket and a broom-wire diddley bow. Around 1946, he and the family moved to Pine Bluff, Arkansas where his father took on the pastorate of a church. It was here that Rush would become friends with Elmore James, slide-player Boyd Gilmore (Elmore's cousin), and piano-player Moose John Walker; eventually forming a band to support his singing, as well as harp and guitar playing.

Still a teen, Rush donned a fake moustache to play in local juke joints with the band fascinated by enthusiasm of the crowds. His family relocated to Chicago in 1953 where he became part of the local blues scene in the following decade.

It was in the early 1970s that his self-penned "Chicken Heads" cracked the Billboard R&B chart on Galaxy, after being picked up from a small label started by former Vee Jay Records producer, Calvin Carter (#34, 1971). He later recorded with leading black music label, Philadelphia International, releasing his first album, Rush Hour produced by Leon Huff, with one track, "I Wanna Do The Do" also charting in 1979 (#75).

In the early 1980s, he moved to Jackson, Mississippi, where he recorded a series of records for the LaJam label, Malaco's Waldoxy imprint, and more recently his own Deep Rush label. 2004's FolkFunk was a return to a more rootsier sound, featuring guitarist Alvin Youngblood Hart. He appeared in the film, The Road to Memphis which is part of the series The Blues, produced by Martin Scorsese. Rush was also a judge for the second annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.



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