More apologies

David J. Jones djj2@CORNELL.EDU
Thu Jun 18 14:05:04 EDT 1998

At 12:04 PM 6/18/98 CDT, Leonard Watkins wrote:
>On Thu, 18 Jun 1998 08:40:56 -0400 Steven Levine said:
>>On Wed, 17 Jun 1998, Karen Hanson wrote:
>>> Sorry to everyone about the Bobby Rush post. I did not realize that he was
>>> featured in Blues Access this month.
>>What are you apologizing for? I enjoyed your post and the Blues Access
>I would like to read it cuz I accidently deleted it. Could someone fwd me
>interview. Thanks
Ya mean this interview, Leonard?  Hey Karen, where is the rest of it?
This interview is alot more interesting than ....Oh nevermind!


From: Karen Hanson <>
Subject:      Bobby Rush interview (in part)

Several weeks ago I had the privilege of interviewing Bobby Rush. At the time,
I was frustrated because the publication I was writing for only gave me 800
words (the interview is some 6,000 words long), and Bobby had such great
stories to tell!  I thought then that I would post some of the interview on
Blues-L. (I've never tried this before, so I hope it turns out.)

Those of you in the NYC area can look for the article in the June 1 issue of
The Inside Connection.

Anyway, besides being a super entertainer, Bobby Rush is one of the kindest
and most generous people you could meet. I have tremendous respect for him.
Here's the beginning of the interview, pretty much in its raw state....

KH: You've been playing a long time. When did you begin?

BR: I started 48 years ago, I was 6 months old when I started... now put the
calculators down.. (laughs)

I've been recording 45 years, been on the bandstand 48 years.. Course, I
started when I was a young man.. I don't pretend to be a young boy. I've been
here for a long time, and I use the word, "I'm over 60, under 70, somewhere in

KH: So what is your real birthdate?

BR:  Nov. 10... I usually give it like that . . . The reason why I do that is
because, primarily in the last 30 or 35 years, I worked what they call the
Chitlin Circuit, and the Chitlin Circuit pretty much dominated a black area
and most of the time. If you talk to a black girl, 18, 19 or 20, if you say
anything about a 60-year-old, they say, "Oh, I'm not going to see that old
man." They count you out before they strike, before they've seen you. So
that's the only reason . . .

I'm so thankful, so blessed that I've been around this long. And I'm glad to
say my age... Because I'm not like maybe a Buddy Guy, probably would dominant
to white clubs, but out of all the entertainers, I'm probably one of the few,
myself and Bobby Bland, who work both sides of the fence. When I say both
sides of the fence, I'm talking about, what the club that Ray Charles worked
at, what you call the crossover to the white venues and so on... then I can
also can go to Memphis, Tennessee and work Beale Street, I can also go work
the Paradise, and draw equally as many people.

I can go to a black club in Memphis, Tennessee and draw 2,000; I can go to the
white club and do the same. But if you put a Buddy Guy in there, you draw,
2,000, but if you go to a black club, you draw two. No disrespect to that, I'm
just so thankful and so blessed that I'm one of the few guys who can do that.

I met a gentleman at the door who wanted me to autograph a picture he got 18
years ago. I'll tell you a good  story. I was in Miami, Florida . . . I was on
my way to Tampa . . . I met a lady 22 years old, said her granddaddy was in
the car, couldn't get out of the car, but she brought a picture for me to
sign, that I  signed for her granddaddy that I also signed for her mother, 44
years ago.... Is that history? . . . I went to his car, he was in a
wheelchair, couldn't get out. 92 years old.

KH: How did you get started playing? You started on guitar...?

Yeah, guitar and bass... Early 50s. Well, even before that. My first guitar I
made it out of a broom wire, you know, you unwrap the broom wire, and you make
it against the wall.

My dad, being a preacher, we would go to Sunday School on Sunday morning--that
was a must--and I would assist the Sunday School teacher at about 10, 12 years
old . . . Didn't know very much about the Word at that time. But being a
preacher's son, we'd go to church, and I'd see the sisters, some of the older
sisters, or mid-aged sisters, some of the younger sisters, jump and shout,
what have you--the choir, I never really sung in the choir, but I'd play the
guitar . . . I couldn't play well at that time, but enough that I guess the
neighbors thought I was a helluva guitar player.

When I would come home, sometimes my daddy would go back and preach on a
Sunday afternoon...And that time, he would leave the children home. And when
he'd leave us home on  a Sunday afternoon about 4:00 . . . the same sisters
that we're shouting--oh, man, they'd be drinking moonshine... I mean, listen,
I'm talking about the deal!

There was a guy called Tootch... sold moonshine, so the older kids, my older
brothers and I would sneak down and get a little moonshine. Oh, man, I'd be
playing music for them. At that time there was a country road, and we could
see the dust way away comin', couldn't tell who it was, but you could see the
dust. And we would be playing, and we'd look up and see dust, and we'd kind of
watch it for a long time. We'd be playing, "Oh, baby, please don't go," and
soon as we'd see it was my daddy, and we'd go, "Amen, amen," and my daddy
would say, "Oh, you all havin' a good time, huh?" <laughs> We'd go into the
gospel thing...

<edit--Bobby remembers going into the studio...>

I remember I went to cut a record in 1968. It was the biggest record that I
ever had called "Chicken Heads". I went to Calvin Carter to cut this record.
When I recorded this record, I went into the studio and didn't have much time
to teach the guys how to play it. I had a guitar player, a bass man and a
drummer. And I was showing the guitar player how to play it. I showed him a
couple times, and I got frustrated. I said, "C'mon, man, I'm gonna show you
one more time." .... <demonstrates> And the man had the tape on. That was the
record--it was cut! Perfect!  ...He was running it all the time.... So that's
me on the guitar.

<and much more....>

Interview by
Karen Hanson
April 17, 1998

Please respect my copyright!  Thanks!

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