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bobbyrushWhen you mention the name Bobby Rush to people, many immediately think of the Congressman from Illinois who co-founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers in 1968. They don’t think about the blues man born in Louisiana and raised in Mississippi and Chicago who, with the likes of Muddy Waters and BB King, set the tone for what would become one of the most celebrated genres of original American music.

After all, compared to his congressional namesake, what does a juke joint, chitterlings circuit, pickin and grinnin, ole boy really have to say unless he’s holding a guitar or a harmonica?  Now if, somehow, someway, you really think that, then you really don’t understand the blues.

Folk music has always told the story of our lives. In Africa we told stories with drums. In the 60’s we told them with guitars and tambourines.  In America, white people told them through country music; while blacks told them through the blues. In time it has all come to be appreciated as history told through music.

Maybe it’s because black history in America has always had a darkness over it blacker than the skin color it once enslaved. Perhaps it is because there are those who truly wish to move past what they  want to believe is now passed. But, somewhere along the line, through preachers and mamas clinging to Jesus, the blues has been frowned upon like a bastard child who nobody wants to be reminded where it came from.

And yet, in every other form, the tone and the tempo of the blues has been embraced. In churches as Gospel, in the mainstream, as rock; and modernized as R&B– all of these have the sounds of the blues without the message of the blues. They no longer tell the story of us- of blacks as a people- the good, the bad, and the ugly.

For that reason, while many white artists have embraced the blues as no different than its country music counterpart, just as many black blues singers have abandoned the genre and named themselves something else to advance their career into the mainstream. But not Bobby Rush.

His anthology spans 57 years in music and rivals the most successful pop artists in album releases and stage performances.  Notwithstanding the pioneering soulful sounds of Motown and Stax Records and all that those artists and labels did for blacks in the music industry- the truth is, they endeavored to homogenize into the mainstream. But Bobby Rush was, and is, a black blues singer to his core; and proud to claim the title.

Funny, sad, sexy, or outrageous- if you are ashamed of blackness, you need not go see Bobby Rush. And perhaps it is that very reason which explains his lack of recognition in the annuls of music history; and the absence of awards comparable to his contemporaries like Muddy Waters and B.B. King, whom he also had a hand in producing some of their material.

One can’t help but believe that if Bobby Rush was a little less black, his impact on American music would be a lot more known. Unlike National Geographic, who can publish photos of naked African women tribal dancing but it is called art instead of porn, African American women dancing in clothes no different than styles celebrated in Los Vegas, but on stage next to a black man singing the stories of our legacy is somehow too racy- too scandalous.

I suppose it’s a generational thing. It took a while for Wall Street to figure out how to make money off of that motif. Because now you got multi-platinum award winning millionaires without a lick of instrument skills talking on a mic surrounded by scantily clad women of every race with nothing but a drum beat and a bass line. Hip hop owes Bobby Rush a debt of gratitude. If he had patented his concept, Bobby Rush would have been richer than P. Diddy and Russell Simmons combined.

And yet, the core of the man remains unchanged through all these years in music. True to his roots. True to who he is- a black man unashamed to be black.  So if you think an old blues man don’t have nothing to offer outside of a juke joint dance party, then you don’t know the blues; and you certainly don’t know the man. So let me take a moment to introduce you to Bobby Rush, in his own words.

Ne:o and Bobby Rush

Ne:o Blaqness Interviews Blues Legend Bobby Rush

NEO:   Bobby I have some questions but what I am going to do is let you start this and then I’ll jump in and out with questions that I have because you really piqued my interest from stage when you spoke about some of your experiences from early in your career. So why don’t we go back and I’ll just let you take me from there.

BOBBY RUSH:  Ok you got it.  First of all my name is Bobby Rush, better known as Sue’s boyfriend, from a little place in Louisiana, between Homer and Haynesville.  I left in 1947, and went to Pine Bluff, Arkansas.  In the early 1950’s, I moved to Chicago.  I lived there for many, many years, 46 years matter of fact, and I have been recording this year, I believe, for 57 years.  I don’t claim to be a young boy but I am blessed to be around this long doing what I am doing.  I’m not 80, but I am certainly over 76. (laughter) so put your calculators away.

I said that because, I want to establish something:  that I’m so blessed and so honored that my audience have let me, and God has let me live long enough that my audience, heaven help us, has taken me as what I am.  What I mean about that is they let me be myself.  Because most artist my age have crossed over, meaning, if they had a white audience, they crossed out the black audience, and I didn’t have to do that.  I crossed over with a white audience, but I also kept the black audience. That’s not true with some people.

I don’t want to get into name callin because it’s such a blessing to do that. It’s nothing great that I done. Nothing I wasn’t smart enough to figure it out how to do this. God just had his arms around me to let me cross over then cross out.  Because what bothered me through the years about the crossover situation you had 25 or 30 years ago, and I was in a situation where you had the white artist learning then how the play the blues, and now they playing as well as or better than some the black guys. The point I’m getting to is, they invented a Wah Wah so that the white guys can sound like the black guys, and now you got black guys buying Wah Wah’s to sound like the white guys who trying to sound black.

NEO: (Laughter) ok

BOBBY RUSH: Those are things disturbing to me- not by white guys playing the blues; it’s just that some of the black guys got it crossed up because some of the black guys in my age bracket don’t want to be called blues singers. They are ashamed of who they are and what they stand for and they don’t want to be called blues singers. Those are some of the things that disturb me.

What I am happy about that the white audience accepted me being who I am is I didn’t have to put down one thing and pick up something else.  So I am one of the blessed ones to have that going for me because I come from where there was segregation.  I marched with Martin Luther King and the whole bit.  I got a chance to see a lot of things and do a lot of things that the average blues guy wouldn’t get a chance to do.  Because I was the underdog I got a chance to go into offices like back in the days of Chess Records and saw what they was talking about doing with black artist and for black artist sometimes it was against the black artist.  I got a chance to hear firsthand because they counted me out and lowered my intelligence because they thought I didn’t comprehend what they was talking about.

When they got into the meetings they said “Oh nobody but Bobby Rush an old blues singer” so they kept talking. I was like the man at the door.  I was like the secretary. I was the lawyer so I learned what not to do by listening to the people cause most people in that position counted me out so I got a chance to do a lot things like that.  Got to March with the Martin Luther Kings because I was counted out and heard information. I was with them and among them and I saw a lot of things go down.  Saw a lot of people who marched with him  who wasn’t marching with him  for the good of it but  because they want to find out information to take to other people to find out what they was doing in the march.  I got to learn a lot like that. So I sing the blues for a whole lot of reasons. Not just because I love it, but because I was born in it.

I’m in it and I faced the fact I ‘m not just a blues singer.  I’m a black blues singer and I recognize that and I’m proud of it.

NEO: (Laughter)

BOBBY RUSH:  And that’s why try to that’s what I try to. Since we talking about that, it’s a coincidence that you would call me this morning and ask me about this. You and I met and we kinda hit it off talking about a couple of things. And I thought about in 1954 or 55, I came to Rock Island, Illinois area for the first time.  I was with Ike Turner.  At that time Tina wasn’t with him the first time or two. We came there and I remember coming to Rock Island and I left had left Galesburg going to play East Moline- a little funky black club.

On my way back to Chicago, I had an accident. This was the late 50’s and a truck hit me. Then ten trucks piled up in the back and all ten of the trucks caught on fire and they burned up. And all ten men in the trucks got burn up.  Me and the drummer was the only survivors of this accident. I dug a hole in the ground to bury myself somewhere north of Rock island.  The accident was from fog and,  anyway, they all got killed and somebody came and found me two or three o’clock in the morning.  I buried myself in the ground to keep from freezing and someone came and look at me and look like a Sheriff’s department whoever it was.   They said “well who is it?  Anybody hurt?”  So someone used the N word said, “Naw just a couple N words. They already buried let’s leave em.”

They left us there not knowing who that was. I can hear them talking and left us there and so someway about six or seven hours later someone came and found us and took us; got us out and took us to the hospital.  Those kinda things I came out of but I don’t know who it was but maybe somebody could have helped us and maybe they couldn’t have of but I have been so lucky and so blessed to be in a position when I should’ve been dead or should’ve been killed or some situation. But God had his arms around me and brought me through this.

Out of all the records I’ve done, I’ve been with Chess, I’ve been with a lot of people, I was able to sustain most of my masters. I didn’t say all, but most of my masters through the years. It hadn’t been all well with me. It hadn’t been where I thought it should be. But I was maintain a free man and here I am to do an interview with you.  To come full circle.  I’m so happy to have come back to Illinois and a part of Rock Island. I’m so happy to do this because 57 years ago I could only come here to play little small juke joint here and there to Galesburg, Rock Island, Moline, and to Kewanee and little places like that.  I couldn’t go into the bigger clubs, and certainly wasn’t a mixed club so here I am sitting here talking to you coming to Mississippi Valley Festival which I’ve been there a few times.  I’m just so thankful that I got a opportunity to be free and spread the news of what I do and to do what I do and I’m making a living at it. You know at one time I wasn’t making a living. The first time I came to Rock Island  I believe I was making $3 a night; nine dollars for the weekend.

NEO: You talk, you spoke on stage about a situation where you were once hired to play from behind a screen?

BOBBY RUSH: Oh yeah, behind a curtain man.

BOBBY RUSH: In 1952 or 53, myself and Muddy Waters got a job at Apex, in Robbins, Illinois somewhere in that area Robbins, on the south side of Chicago.  I hadn’t been in Chicago that long  I didn’t know my way around that well but I got a job making $5 a for Wednesday and Saturday.   I get five dollars a week, 2.50 a night. Five dollars that was money. Then a guy   said “If you work behind a curtain you make $7 dollars” I said “Ok.  What’s behind the curtain?” I said “I don’t care where I work.”

I didn’t know what he was talking about behind the curtain. So they had a white band and a black band. And when the white band played, they didn’t have a curtain, but when we would play as a black band we would have to play from behind the curtain. They wanted to hear our music but they didn’t want to see our face. It was a white audience and when we played, the audience couldn’t see our face. But the people that owned the place liked me so well they would open the curtain and say “ Ladies and Gentlemen, you entertained by Mister Bobby Rush and the Band” they did the same thing for the others. They would open the curtain up, we would take a bow, they would close back up after 2 or 3 seconds.  But they didn’t want to see the band behind us so they had a second curtain and the band was behind one curtain we couldn’t see the band and we was out front in the front of a curtain, and a curtain behind that curtain,  you follow me?

NEO:  Bobby! What! What!

BOBBY RUSH: So when open the curtain they could only see me they couldn’t see the band.

NEO: What were you thinking during that time?

BOBBY RUSH: Survival. Survival.


BOBBY RUSH:  I didn’t like it. I know, I know it was a thang but it was survival. It was survival because plus it was seven dollars a night in the early fifties seven dollars a night 14 dollars c’mon man. I was making more money that a Howard Wolf and Muddy Waters put together. I think Muddy Waters was getting five dollars a night.

Well we talked among ourselves, but we didn’t talk about it in the midst of a white audience and the (black) public did not know because we were too embarrassed for them know we needed money bad enough and had to work in these kind of situations.  You know and we thought it was gone lead us to being free to do other things too and sooner or later about 20 or 40 years later it was, but the people who was doing it, we know now they had no intentions of doing anything but to make money off of us. They wanted to hear our music but not our face that was hard, sure it was hard.

NEO:  You had mentioned and I don’t remember the context, and perhaps you can fill me in, but I recall you mentioning something about some areas that you had established prior to some of the others that have gotten some notoriety what were you speaking of regard to that?

BOBBY RUSH: Well I don’t remember the conversation but I know one things for sure. I remember when Willie Dickens said “Bobby Rush I want you to do this song” it was Hoochie Koochie.  I had been working on this song but I said “give it to Muddy Waters.”  I wish I had did it.   It was Hoochie Koochie I had been working on this song long before, and I had told Willie Dickens about this song. Those kinda of things you know, I had worked on but I didn’t have it completed but I did have the beginnings of these songs so I let Muddy Waters have it. He had his version, I had my version of  Hoochie Koochie.  That’s why I put out  Hoochie Man ok you know because I had a version of it, he had a version of it. That don’t mean he didn’t write it first. I don’t know.

NEO: Who were your contemporaries? Who are the artists that you traveled with in your early years?

BOBBY RUSH:  Little Jerry. I was just a kid I loved him and Little Walter.  I guess Little Walter probably was the first guy I got real close to because I lived on Troy in Chicago and he lived on Albany and I remember he went out to Waukegan, Illinois when I was about, I guess I must have been 17 years old maybe and he wasn’t much older. He could have been maybe about 20 or 25- just young men.  I was playing guitar and bass. I wasn’t playing that much harp, although I could play harmonica and he went out to north Waukegan with me to a bar that must been seated about a hundred people, but to me being a young poor country boy,  I thought it was a million people.

He went in, and set the bar up. He said listen “Buy every lady a drink in the house.” It probably wasn’t but about 20 ladies in the house, but a beer cost him .25cents a piece.  I thought he was rich and had all the money in the world to set up everybody in the house, and I said WOW!  He was introducing me to people as his little brother, and the ladies was kissing all over me, and man, did I love that you know.

One lady sitting at the end of the bar with her legs crossed looking good with her dress all up and I said, “Walter, why you didn’t introduce me to that one on the other end since I’m your little brother?” He said, “That one belongs to me!” (Laughter) He wouldn’t introduce me (Laughing), but that was the best looking one in there.  I didn’t know that see but he said, “That one belongs to me” (Still laughing).  But anyway Walter was a drinker he got drunk and he got high. He said, “Bobby, I’m out of money.” He called me blood, he said “Blood I’m out of money.”

Well I didn’t want to leave because we was about probably  40 miles from the house, and I was having so much good time with the ladies and I was out of money.  If I had 3 dollars I was lucky. He went to the trunk and opened his trunk up and it was full of money!   One dollars bills and fives, and it wasn’t packed it, was just throwed in there loose.  I had never in my life saw nobody with that kind of money.

He said, “Get you some blood.” He was drunk and he was staggering he said “Get you a handful of this.” I was polite.  I  got me a handful of it probably all you could put in your hand unfolded. Being polite cause it was his trunk, his car, his money.  He had an old Cadillac that Chess had bought him, you know one of them nice looking cars the whole bit.

So I went to the bathroom and I counted the money  it was 18 or 19 dollars close to 20 dollars which was a lot of money in that day.  So on my way up to the club I asked him, ”Walter, where you get this money from? How you be so rich to me?”  He said “Baby, I just play haaarp, that’s all I do.”   From that day to this one, I always kept me a harmonica in my pocket cause I said if this make you rich(laugh), I will never be without my harmonica. Everywhere you see Bobby Rush I got a harp somewhere close to me.  I thought he was rich. He probably didn’t have but four or five hundred dollars in his trunk cause it was loose with maybe hundreds of one dollar bills or fives at the most but he had a bunch of em, but they wasn’t packed it was just they weren’t lined up they was just loose. And when he shut the trunk up and the air caught it went whoosh, and they was sticking all out of the trunk. He got his pencil hook pushing it back down in the trunk.  I thought it was, listen man, I was in heaven.  I said, “Golly, I have to blow a harp to get rich.” That’s what I thought.

NEO:  When did you first identify in your career that you crossed a line of success where you felt like people began to know who you were?

BOBBY RUSH:  I think the first time I realized that God had some plans for me other than being just a band leader, was when Bob Marley came out for the first time. I didn’t know who Bob Marley was. He was big in New York, so we went to New York and a gentleman got me on the show with him. He was on the show at 10 o’clock. They got me to come on at 12 o’clock.  Well, I thought that was something good. But I didn’t know that coming on behind Bob Marley was a disaster.   Cause I didn’t know how big Bob Marley was.  I didn’t know who he was.  So all I know I had a nice little band. So I went up on the stage he went up and had it must have had about 20 or 30,000 folks there in New York City.

NEO:  Was that the biggest crowd you ever performed in front of?

BOBBY RUSH:  That was the biggest crowd so far that I ever been at the time, that I ever saw in my life.

NEO:  How did you feel about that?

BOBBY RUSH:  I felt like I was in heaven someplace. I had never saw this.  I didn’t know what to expect.  All I know I saw all these people and when Bob Marley came off the stage, everybody turned and left was going out the park because he was the headliner.  They didn’t know anything about no Bobby Rush. They put me on as a tokenism, in other words, they were friendly to the promoter and I didn’t know the promoter at that time was trying to jive me to make me feel good.  He knew I couldn’t come on behind Bob Marley being a headliner like that and know I was a nobody.  So he put me in a position.

So I told the band, “Listen the peoples are leaving, the peoples are leaving, we got to get on real quick.”  They had me come on thirty minutes behind I said “I can’t wait thirty minutes, the peoples are gone be gone.”  So we hurry up and got on stage against the promoter will, cranked up and started playing the blues (makes the sound of the blues) “ba,dun,dun,dah”, and you could hear peoples turning around and like cows stampeding to (laughter) came back to see who I was and I heard people saying- they was using the N word  “who is this N word up on the stage?” You follow me. They came back in to see me like I was Bob Marley and for that people start to look at Bobby Rush as a headliner and that was the turning point of my career. I felt like I was someone to be placed in this business to stay because I was put their honestly to die because of the communication between these two promoters saying “Ok, you want your boy to headline ok, here’s his shot.”  I was put there to die you follow me?  But god was in the plan and I went up early and they came to 30,000 people came back in the building that was amazing.

NEO:  What was it like?

BOBBY RUSH: I didn’t know that they were going to do, I was just trying something before they got out the building so that they could hear me before they left.  They heard the music, they heard the music and they came back in because they loved the music and I came in playing something like “Hoochie Koochie” you know what I’m talking about “da,dun,dun,da”- I’m talking about the blues man!  And they turned around like cows coming back in, and I knew that was a start of something. I knew I had something. You follow me? Another time I knew, another time I knew I had, I went to China, I went to Beijing and I had the young girls with me.

NEO:  When was that?

BOBBY RUSH:  This was this was three or four years ago and I knew I was on the right track all the time but this time really confirmed it. I went to China and they didn’t know who I was. I went there on like a Monday. I literally had no pull in China. Someone saw me in a interview, and they told another interviewer about me by the time Wednesday came, I had about 20 interviews with different newspapers and radios and what have you.  By the weekend came, when I came into the show on a Saturday, by Saturday, I had another band and 68,000 people in a field to see me- Chinese, 68,000 people.

NEO:  Going back to what you were talking about with some people have pretty much turn against their roots and the legacy of blues, you have a had an opportunity over all these years to introduce this genre to a lot of different cultures. How has the reception of this genre of music that you have stuck to been and how has this affected you as an artist to go in to see a whole group of people that don’t look like you, don’t know your experience, don’t even know the experience from which the blues emanated- how has that shaped you as an artist and your view on your genre of music?

BOBBY RUSH:  It has shaped me up to be a better man, and a better music man because it put me in a position to know that I have something going, plus I also know that music is a bond to anything that’s ailing you. It’s a cure for anything and anyone that is subject to prejudice. The thing about music- you may catch the people that doing it, and don’t want the other man to outdo them in it and get more recognition than they have. But the music itself,  when you hear it, it’s no black and white issue then. It’s no black and white issue, plus you got to understand that what I do as a musician as a blues man I’m often modifying the things that I do. Now what has changed through the years like when I first started with the girls they say that’s not the real music but I knew that in time they accept it because everything is modified.

Because just figure 25 or 30 years ago you and I couldn’t do this kinda interview on the telephone.  It wasn’t equipped to do this kind of quality. Things have changed. See I do the same thing, I modify my music.  Buddy, B.B. all the guys, they not done that much modification. They still playing the same thing they played in 1955.  I’m not saying that’s wrong or right, but for me I must modify. You see in records when you in radio you don’t play 45’s and 8 tracks anymore- not that its better music or worse music but you modify. It’s almost like a toilet- like a restroom. You may change the look of the bathroom and got it all modified and smelling good, but guess what, you do the same thing in the bathroom that your grandmother did. That haven’t changed.

NEO: Right.

BOBBY RUSH:  That’s what I’m telling you what you do in the bathroom ain’t changed. It’s just the look of the bathroom.  So what you got to do and I got to do, we have to modify what we do and we got to make what we talked about be readable to what people want to hear about because it ain’t always about the truth. I didn’t say don’t tell the truth but it ain’t always about the truth.   It’s the way you tell the truth.

NEO:  Going back to what you were talking about how and why the Wah Wah was created, some people say that imitation is the most sincerest form of flattery.  Is that true when it comes down to your view of how others have taken the blues.  How has it been for you to see these different evolutions of blues where you’ve seen some black folks not wanting to embrace it and you’ve seen some white folks take it on in a way that some of our folks have turned their backs on it? How do you view all these incarnations of blues?

BOBBY RUSH:  First of all, I think that what we do and what I have done as black entertainers- we gave most of it away- not someone taking it, because we are shamed of what we do. Now that is intentional. When I say intentionally that because of how promoters are write about things. Because if you ever as a writer, write about what I do and if you say what I do is great then it’s great to the readers. But if you say it’s not, it’s not great to the readers.

Because what you say about me is what people  perceive me to be. You follow what I’m saying that’s what they perceive me to be so it ain’t always just the artist who saying I’m not going to do this but I’m talking about black artists as a whole, it’s the writers and the radio, because as long as white cannot do what you do, or in the position to control what you do, then it not alright to do.  But soon as a white can do what you do and sometimes they do it just as good or better then it’s alright to do.

Cause I remember when Elvis Presley was coming out he made it good for me because when I did work at the few places where no black people was, they didn’t want to see me shaking my butt until Elvis Presley came out shaking his butt. Then it was alright for me to shake mine.  You follow me?  Tom Jones, when he shook his behind then I could shake mine.

I remember when Muddy Waters and I first went to went overseas to Holland they booed both of us cause they was expecting us to have on white socks on and sitting down on a stool talkin bout “my baby done left me”.  Now if we had went in that image looking like we were black men from in the cotton field they would a accepted that.

People liked to look at a blues singer like he was some kind of bib overall wearing shoe shuffling illiterate poor broke cotton pickin negro from the south. And it is true I was poor and I’m not saying we weren’t from the cotton field, ; but I also want to say there ain’t nothing wrong with pickin cotton so long as you own the field.

I’m not saying we weren’t from the cotton field, but if you look other than that then you weren’t accepted because when they said you was a American black man coming, they want you to look like what they perceive you to look like- what the writer had told them you would look like.

NEO:  They expected you to be a caricature?

BOBBY RUSH:  They expect you to be like a character with a tail or what have you, but see if you notice I never go on the stage with no blue jeans on but James Cotton might do that or Buddy Guy, but you ain’t gone catch  Buddy, Bobby Rush on the stage like that.  I didn’t say I was wrong or right, you understand what I’m saying?  Because this is a form of entertainment and I come from a different kinda mold. That don’t make me be greater or anything but you got to respect what I do because if I’m going to church, I’m going to put a tie on I didn’t say it was right but that’s that the kinda mold I came out of.

NEO:  Right

BOBBY RUSH:  You know that’s the way I am man. That don’t mean it’s right or wrong.  I’m not talking about the guys that don’t do it ain’t right or not as great as I am, or don’t mean as much as some?  But there are certain things that I’m not gone do, not put myself in a position to do because I know that a record come and go. You can have a hit record today and you’re as good as your hit record but performance last forever. So I try to be the best I can as a entertainer because entertainer last forever and a hit record is temporary.

NEO: Let talk about those relationships with record companies. It’s well documented the type of shysters that really, really basically stole the intellectual property of a lot of early black. How have your relationships been over the years what has it been like

BOBBY RUSH: Far as the record companies concerned, a record company is in business to make money and they want a image for the record company. They not looking for the image of you or the artist themselves cause most entertainers or artist want a manager and they wants a record label, and they wants a record deal, and they wants someone to write for them, and they wants somebody to promote them, and they want a agent. So did I when I didn’t know what I wanted.  I know what I needed but I didn’t know what I wanted.

Here’s what I thought I was gonna have:  a agent till I find someone to book me, I was gonna let somebody manage me until I could manage myself. I was gonna write for myself until I found a writer. I was gonna produce for myself until I found a producer. But 45 years later I was this guy looking for someone to do these things now all of a sudden a guy like B.B. King say, “Bobby Rush I want you to write 4 or 5 songs and produce me.” He asking me to write and produce for him so what I was looking for was under my nose all the time.  So I was one of the best lucky ones who made the decision to do it for myself and learn the business.

NEO: Do you think that the fact that these folks took you as a dummy and allowed you to observe their process…

BOBBY RUSH:  Exactly! People that took me for a dummy educated me.  Cause I remember I went to Chess recording company in 1952 to record.  That was a Union 20810 at that time or shortly after that was merging.    There was a pamphlet on his desk said the union was merging cause at that time they had two unions and they were merging together. Both unions represent the entertainer or the musicians but one union had a reputation of representing you better and certainly representing the black guys better, because the black guys- the black musicians didn’t get the same rapport or representation on the same level as they did the white musicians.  I was glad to see them merging so I sat on his desk and said “ Oh my god, I’m glad they merging this union together”.  So Phil then looked to Leonard and said “What did that boy say?”  Leonard said “He said the union was merging”. Then Phil said “I heard about that, but where did he get the information from?” He said “off your desk”. Well he got the paper and throwed it back and said “Boy what do that say?”  I didn’t know that he was asking me to see could I read it.  When I read to him, he turned to his brother and said “We can’t use him,” he used the word N “because he can read.” So he caught me.

NEO:  What did you think?

BOBBY RUSH: And in that room Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters was sitting cross in this room but they whispered and said “Now we can’t hire him, cause he can read.”

NEO: What year was this?

BOBBY RUSH:  1953 I believe it was.

NEO: What did you think?

BOBBY RUSH:  I didn’t think.  I didn’t know where he was coming from. I didn’t know. I was just a young kid.  I didn’t know. I didn’t know what he was talking about cause I thought he was praising me because I had gotten this information you follow me?

NEO:  Right

BOBBY RUSH:  But he was trying to tell his brother…

NEO:  Looking back all these years you feel as though all of that influenced you taking control of your career?

BOBBY RUSH:  Yeah I think it influenced me, and it also influence me- see my real name is Emmitt, Ellis Jr. and when I went to record they knew that I was recording for Emmitt Ellis Jr. but what they didn’t know that Emmitt Ellis and Bobby Rush was the same man.

NEO:  Ok

BOBBY RUSH:  They didn’t know that.  They thought I was working because I was working on Rush street at that time and I don’t want to get into the names with this but Caesar Capone and the Capone people was involved with the club that I was working at and they thought I was in cahoots with the Capone brothers. But I was not. I didn’t know em, but they thought because I was working in that atmosphere that I knew somebody who knew somebody, you follow me?  So I was the guy who they say well he must be tied up with the mafia you follow me?  They was kinda standoffish with from me and they kinda give me the respect and thought  maybe that I could go back and talk to someone about what I was doing. They didn’t know that I didn’t know the people and Bobby Rush was not really my name. They thought I worked for this big corporation cause I had told them “Soon as I get off this contract with this Emmitt Ellis, I’m gone record with yall.  I’m gone be down here with you.”  I kinda lied and told them that because I wanted to see. There was a guy called Mel  London.  He was a friend of both of em and Mel London is dead and gone now, but he the one knew the Chess brothers.  I didn’t really know em personally. He knew em and got me in the door.

NEO:   Did they ever hire you?

BOBBY RUSH:  No because they thought I was tied in the Capone boys. I did cut a record and left with my masters.  I cut a record and walk away with the masters because I was a friend to a friend of theirs who was a black gentleman who knew them and we was able to pay for our record and get it out which wasn’t nothing but a hundred and something dollars whatever doing a demo master but at that time when we did a demo master we were doing it on a 8 tracks.

NEO:  Were you able over the years to keep ownership of your masters?

BOBBY RUSH:  Yes, I was probably one of the few guys, if not the only guy to walk away with it.

NEO:  When you take a look at your career and the contemporaries that have been with you over the years, how would you say that you have fared as far as the business end of the industry compared to some of the ones that are just as known or better known than you?

BOBBY RUSH:  I think, because of  my knowledge of the music business, I have been so undercurrent that people didn’t think I knew what I knew. I wasn’t no threat to someone because I  didn’t drive the brand new cars- the Cadillac cars and what have you.  I think they thought that I didn’t know what  I know about the business and they thought I was just another guy who was singing and making $2 dollars a night and wasn’t  gone do anything with my life or my money.

NEO:  So you played it safe?

BOBBY RUSH:  I played it safe but I think if they had knew that I was as keen as I was on saving a dollar as I was and saving and doing the things and getting my career straight and my retirement up because it’s not to many guys who 25 years old specially black guys who put in their self-retirement at 20 years old in my time.

NEO:  What artist do you feel that you either directly or indirectly influenced through your body of work?

BOBBY RUSH:  Oh, I have a lot of guys I think to be honest with you. I think most guys watches me. Bobby Bland watches what I do. B.B. King watches what I do.  Whether going up and down, a lot guys see what I’m doing because they can’t help to know that at two hundred and some odd records that I own most of masters. That’s unbelievable. I don’t care if its Fats Domino or Chuck Berry, ain’t that many guys own their masters as many as I do.  That don’t mean I made a whole lot of money.  That means I’m a free man. At least I call my own shots. That may not be much but what is rich to a person?   I think freedom is rich. I think to be able to speak and think for yourself and do for yourself is freedom because what is money?  Money is to be able to do some of the things you want to do because if you have the opportunity to do the things that you want to do, then that’s better than money because I don’t think when I talk to the top five black entertainers in this country and you can name who that is who you think that is and you can guess at it. I don’t think they are as much free as I am. I’m not talking about the money they make.  I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about being free.

NEO: It’s about it’s about who they owe their image to.


NEO: How they have to act to sustain that money

BOBBY RUSH:  Yeah.  You call my house today and you call my cell phone.  You name me five artists that have 250 records out, like I have that you can call their house.

NEO:  Right.

BOBBY RUSH:  Just name em. If you name me a black artist that you can call and I don’t care if its Elton John, just name me one that you can call and you get him without going thru a whole lot of channels to get to him.

NEO:  Speaking of which who are some of the non-blues artist that you’ve had an opportunity to work with over the years?

BOBBY RUSH:  Oh some I worked with a lot of people and I respect so many and I and I respect what Prince do and I respect what a lot of rappers do. I don’t endorse all the things that they say in their rapping but they mindset for business wise. I like a lot of the guys.   I don’t like what they mindset about what they say about the women and the whole bit.  I’m not listening to it, but for the business side of it.  I like what they do now- most of them. I didn’t say all do what they do because nobody won’t do it for em.   So the reason why a lot of the guys be successful in what they doing because there was nobody to do for them what need to be done.  So they found a way to do it themselves. I believe if they had found somebody to do it, I believe they would have been too star struck to do it themselves. You follow me?

NEO:  Right

BOBBY RUSH:  So now since they figure do it to themselves they say well this is the way to go but I think I believe that most of them do it because wasn’t nobody to do it for you.  It’s almost like a Bobby Rush right now if I wasn’t Bobby Rush how many record companies wanna to touch a Bobby Rush- a man that 70 something years old.  C’mon.

NEO:  Right

BOBBY RUSH:  There ain’t no future when a record company but they will deal with me because they figure I am capable of doing something for myself so they will buy into it because I can do it for myself. Nobody really want to record a B.B. King or Bobby Rush or Buddy Guy. C’mon.  They do it because of your name.  C’mon if you think they in love with you, let you get sick tomorrow and see what happen.

NEO:  You do a segment of your show where I noticed that the audience is amazed at what you like when I was watching your show you reminded the audience where rap came from.

BOBBY RUSH:  Yeah, yeah.

NEO:  What song were you drawing from that you were rapping on stage with?

BOBBY RUSH:  Oh  most of them I just do I just slow it down to a pace where it sound like a blues. Sock It To Me Boogaloo.  My big record with Chess was “Sock it to me Boogaloo.”  Listen to what I “say Sock it to me Boogaloo” if that ain’t rap what is rap?  But then you got Howie Wolf and all them guys rapping too. You know I had a guy talking about “well I don’t like that because the young folks talking that”. How much rap can you be talking about when Howie Wolf said” I wore my 44 so long it made my shoulder sore.” Guess what he was wearing his gun for to kill somebody about a woman.  And B.B. King talking about “Sweet 16”.  40 years old should’ve been put in jail for going with a girl 16 years old? Ask Chuck Berry about it.  You know something people say they haven’t thought about what they saying in music sometimes.

Even myself I had a big record called Sue. It was just the kind of a song what did Sue do?  I met this girl across the railroad tracks when I was 15 yrs old and apparently she must have been older. It’s the same thing if she was 25 and I’m 16.  It’s a terrible situation.  If you don’t believe it let it happen to your daughter or my daughter or your son.  Then you find out how devastating that can be.   You got a daughter sixteen and here’s a man 40 yrs old got her dating her.  That don’t sit good with a father.  You know same thing if he 16 and got a girl 30 years old it the same thing.

NEO:  Right. You were talking about earlier in your interview about how you modify your act.  What made you start going into the areas like there’s part of your act where you inject a little Michael Jackson here and there?

BOBBY RUSH:  I did that because I come from that era where Michael Jackson and I put in that kind of a thing when Michael Jackson passed.  Because I respect what he did so well. He was such a good entertainer and I said I would do some things really just to honor him and it lead into something people like and respect and they recognize when they saw it you follow me? And I do it kind of jokified where you can laugh about it but it’s not a funny thing to me.  It’s a respect to a guy who I thought was so great.  I’m not talking about his personal life. I’m talking about his music itself and how genius he was with what he do and how he did what he did. You know.

NEO:  Now, there’s a question that I heard someone asked in the audience (laughter) that I don’t think they asked you- it was during that bit when you do the song about the big woman. Somebody in the back had me in stitches they said somebody should ask him how long has he been carrying  those big ole and  drawers around? (Laughter)

BOBBY RUSH:  I’m glad you asked me about it (laughter) I’m glad you asked me about it. Forever and I will forever do it. Let me tell you why I do it.  I do it because most the time, not all the time, the big fat ladies get kinda set aside. So I kinda joke with them let them know I’m in love with a big fat woman.  Now it may be offensive to someone who’s skinny but the big wide woman say he showing the drawers talking about his woman being that big and she stand up in the audience and say to herself “he probably will like me too”.  The big woman gotta have some lovin too you know. Sometimes the little skinny ladies don’t like it. But when you come to see my show and I talk about these things and do these kinda things it all I’m doing is making sure that everybody understand that everybody got to have someone.  Whether you big, little…….

NEO:  What keeps you on the road and cutting records?

BOBBY RUSH:  Being enthused. My prayer  been that I ask god to keep me enthused. Cause I know a man can live a long time without water, he can live quite some time without food, but a man cannot live long without hope and that’s from being enthused.  I’m still enthused about what I do. I’m still optimistic about how I can change things for my fellow man- black or white.  I’m still optimistic about what can happen at this day.  I was like that when President Obama was running. Some people will said “it will never happen” but I was still saying it can happen.  Someone said to me the other day “Bobby Rush as old as you are you ought to go somewhere and retire.”  I’m still optimistic that somewhere I will say something, do something, someone will see me  to influence someone for a better life or help them in some kinda way.  I’m still believing that because I’m not stupid enough to sit here and say- listen at 70 plus years old, I’m gone live another 100 years and what have you.  I’m not that stupid about life.  But what you gotta do is live every moment out to your fullness and hope and pray whenever you live it out it will help someone to live their life out because knowledge is not to be held in. It’s what you learn you pass it down to someone else.

NEO:  How much time do you spend on the road?

BOBBY RUSH:  I’m only home about 8 or 9 days a month and I been doing that for probably then last 50 years. I’ve been off about 6 weeks I think in about 48 years.

NEO:  Does the same band normally travel with you?

BOBBY RUSH:  Yeah I got some guys who have been with me 32 , 38 years  and I love the guys input and they been with me a long time and I respect them and they not, some of em kinda lost hope in life itself.  I had a guy say that to me two or three weeks ago he said “Bobby Rush things are so rough and things are so tough every time I save a little money something come along and take it away and I do this and I do that  and I don’t know what to do”.  I said “well join the club. You with a bunch of people who don’t know what to do.  That ain’t nothing new, if you need a hundred dollars you got ninety-five, if you need a million you got 999,999.  If you need a thousand you got eight hundred dollars so join the club with all of us. We all need something.”  I used this old thing with my guy “the biggest pimp owes something to somebody” you know.  So we all in need for something, if it ain’t one thing it’s something else.  Try and hold on.

NEO:  If you had a chance to speak to artist today who are either in the industry or have aspirations to get in what would be your advice to them as far as trying to maintain some longevity?

BOBBY RUSH: To look in the mirror and face the fact with yourself, learn all you can about what you are doing. If you’re a writer be the best, if you’re an entertainer be the best, if you’re a writer and a entertainer,   entertain first then write for yourself according to what you do, and face the fact about yourself. Whatever you write, whatever you sing make sure you analyze the audience that you trying to sing to. Cause it don’t make sense to take candy to a old folks home. They ain’t got no teeth to chew it.

NEO: (Laughter)

BOBBY RUSH: You got to analyze where you’re selling candy too- children or old folks.  Don’t make no difference how you like it. You know and that’s what you have to face the facts.  I look in the mirror every day and I look out of it and know I’m an old man who doing what I do but yet I recognize that what I have done is what I need to keep doing but just modify what I do so that it sound like its new to the people who haven’t heard it before.

NEO: Right

BOBBY RUSH: Because there’s nothing new under the sun.

NEO: For the most part people will know Bobby Rush as a blues singer. But at the end of the day, if there was a final legacy- a message that you would want everyone to understand about you as a man what would that be?

BOBBY RUSH: That would be that I’m planning and I’m trying my best to do all I can while I can.  I know that it will come a time that I cannot do, and I won’t regret what I did not do.

NEO:  And is that a path that you will encourage other people to follow?

BOBBY RUSH:  Yes, yes. Because you never want to do anything that you regret you did it.  Although you make mistakes but even if you make a mistake don’t do the kinda mistake you regret doing. If you make a mistake- a man make a mistake, a woman mistake, you can correct yourself or herself, or himself. But if you make a mistake and don’t know it that’s the problem because the Bible teaches us a man can do wrong for so long he‘ll think he right.  The people on September 11 thought they were doing something right but when you doing something you think is right and your wrong you got a problem cause you can’t correct yourself. When you think you’re right. Because a man perish from lack of knowledge You gotta be careful with knowledge because when you know some things it some things you just can’t do because woe is to a man who knows better and don’t do he will get whooped with many stripes. But he didn’t say the man didn’t know he said you perish from lack of knowledge so in other words dead is dead, you damned if you do you damned if you don’t. If you gone die, die for a cause.

Let me tell you before we end.  Let me thank you, first of all for having a conversation with you.  Let me thank you for what you’ve done, thank you for what you doing, and what you plan to do because people like yourself can make a difference in this world.  I’m not talking about black and white issue. Now I’m talking about issues that make a difference in what people know, because what people perceive you to be is what you write about.

You know we got to pass this knowledge on down.  This year is the first time I worked  Davenport, Iowa in a long long time, and I already know part of it, part of it is because they think I’m this black man who think I’m too black  to change what I do.  But they right. I’m always too black to change who I am because I’m never gone be phony because when you have a conversation most of the time, when I have a conservation with my friends, what we talk about is one thing and when you show up, I don’t mean you personally, when the reporters show up they talks about another thing.

But you notice whatever I say to you I’ll say it in heaven.  It’s never change, because that is nothing I, I don’t have no chips on my shoulder. I don’t have no chips about what it was or who did what to me. I never have tell it or say oh I got messed over. Man anything that was did to me is because I didn’t have enough knowledge to cover myself or to protect myself of it. You know I’m not talking about the things that came through and I didn’t get my share of it  you follow me? You ask me a question early about that situation back then. Let me bring it close. Just 5 or 6 years ago I was in Jefferson, Missouri working at a college. They had a individual string like a broom wire coming from the floor to the ceiling, and the public couldn’t see it but there was a string I had to perform inside of.  They said now your butt or your hips can’t touch this string-  in other words, I couldn’t twist, I couldn’t shake my hips because I was explained that I couldn’t touch on each side of me so that means I would have to stand flatfoot and sing.

NEO:  This was 5, 6 years ago?

BOBBY RUSH:  So those are the kinda things so everything change remain the same. That’s the way they thought and the person that was saying this was giving me the information that they had gotten from their boss to tell me what to do-  here’s what we do, we want Bobby Rush but we don’t need this thing with the girls up shaking and crossing and what does that have to do with me because I’m one if the few guys that’s left as a black man who is black and show the culture of me.   I’m not ashamed of it because that’s what they did in Africa.  That’s what we did in the black clubs 50 and a hundred years ago.  That’s what we all did when we wasn’t playing the white clubs. But the white people know that.  Because they was able to come to the black clubs but the black people wasn’t able to go to the white clubs so they knew about what we do in these joints, in these chittlin’ circuit joints. A black woman have her dress up shaking across the floor wasn’t no big deal. That is what we did.  They don’t think about what Michael Jordan was doing jumping a ball. They done that 50, 100 years ago.  They just didn’t have a opportunity to play with a team.

Muhammad Ali wasn’t the first black man who could box. And that’s what we do as a race and culture and the black people say “Naw, don’t let them see us eatin watermelon they’ll think we black”.  C’mon.

NEO: Well, needless to say Bobby, one of the first criticisms I got as a writer was that I tell too much truth about things. (laughter)

BOBBY RUSH:  I love you for that, see that’s, see that’s listen man Oh man! Bless you man! Oh!  What a statement you just made! Oh man!

NEO:  I said “those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat.”

BOBBY RUSH:  Exactly, exactly. Oh man. Oh man, you rough.  Let me tell you I gotta say this. I didn’t think I was gone get to this. Last year I went to a black college to introduce a speaker in black history for a black college. A lady about 18 years old,  in college she said I don’t want to hear about the blues, it reminds me of slavery. So when I went in the classroom what I had planned to speak about,  quite naturally now, I’m on a different subject because the lady done got me, so whatever I wrote to talk about I can’t talk about this now.  So I went in talking about that slavery happened. I didn’t say it was good. I didn’t say anything about how it came about. I just said it happened and they got to understand their history.

NEO:  We are too quick to bury our heads in the sand as though it doesn’t matter for today.  Well, it absolutely does matter.

BOBBY RUSH:  It happened. It happened. Oh man! You just, oh man! You made my day! I had a similar situation with me about three or four years ago this gentlemen done passed and gone and I won’t get into name calling but he was a entertainer a big entertainer and we was in Memphis working myself and Chuck Berry and a bunch of us and this lady came out.  She was about twenty years old- could have been a little younger or whatever. She said “Oh Mr. Bobby Rush” and she greeted all of us.  “I’m 20 years old” or whatever she said “I brought my mother to see you. I enjoyed this my first blues show I ever been to.” So this man was with me said “I not a damn blues singer. I am a R&B singer” and it embarrassed me because the young lady was trying to say I like what I saw.

But he didn’t wait till she finished to find out what she saying, you know “he ain’t no damn blues singer.” Now here’s a man who a black man is shamed to be who he is. What is a R&B singer?  In other words I’m not a blues singer cause someone told him that a blues singer is less than something else.

NEO: Well Bobby, I’m not afraid to be a black writer. (laughter)

BOBBY RUSH:  Right, and that scares some people (laughter)

NEO:  That’s right.

BOBBY RUSH:  But when  I met you down there,  I’m gone tell you there I knew you would tell it like it is, but you got to be smart enough to write what it, let me see how I’m gone say it, but be cunning as a fox. And if you don’t be cunning as a fox this will get out of hand.

You see that why I said what I said to you in a quietly manner because I don’t want you to think I was mad at the world, but I’m not but the truth of the matter is I recognize is a snake in the woods. I’m not talking about he’s dangerous if you know he out there he can’t harm you.

Let me say something to you.  Why is it that when we as a whole people specially black people, get in a position they want to forget about the people who need them most? How can you as a husband eat a steak dinner and give your kids a hot dog unless they choose to eat a hot dog? No man want to feed a himself a steak and his baby eating peanut butter, I’m not talking about  if that’s your choice it’s another thing. You follow me?

People kinda counted me out because I was too black for them. When I say black because I’m with the girls, the whole bit, that was too black but they got to understand that’s not offensive. That’s what black people do. That’s what I do. They can’t say nothing about you what you write because you a black man. You write about the culture of you and your people. But if a person not kind to you, you be kind to them because it’s like a heap of coal or oil on their head. You follow me?

And I’m so glad to talk to you because it ain’t many guys who write like you write, and talk the talk you talk.  It ain’t many guys left and it’s a shame. I respect other black publications for what they’ve done, but I can’t respect everything they do. Did you understand what I just said? I respect what they’ve done, but I don’t respect everything they do. What do you want a name and money for?  To be free to do what you want. To do and to say and do some things that other people won’t say.  That’s all I’m saying.  They can make a difference.

I thought about this, I went to Miami, Florida about five years ago,  and this lady asked me  “Listen Bobby Rush, I want you to do the show but it’s a family-oriented kinda show.”  Now I’m  a granddaddy, I’m a great granddaddy, I’m a biblical study, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, get high in no form or fashion, but she didn’t know this about me. She said “I want you to work, but can you work without the ladies?”  I said “Sure I can.”

So instead of me having two ladies, I had ten.   So I went down with all the ladies, they get out.   She said “Bobby Rush, I thought you said that you could work without the ladies?” I said “I did. I didn’t say I would.”(laughing) I sho said I could work without them, but I didn’t say I would.  But when I get up on the stage, I told them what I do. I talked to the children, I talked to the kids, I said told them “First of all I’m a biblical study, and I told them I drink a lot. I had a beer in 1957, and that’s true.  I had one beer in 1957. I hadn’t had one before or since. I don’t drink, smoke, get high in no form or fashion and that the gods truth, you follow me?

And when I got done telling them, and I got the kids up and I told them what we bout to do before we get started, I’m gone tell you what we bout to do lets bow our heads, let’s take a little prayer.  She thought I was gone go into one of the black prayers and I said I know just what to do. I say a few things and hurry up and say amen and get out of that. But I just want to set the pace right. She said “Oh I didn’t know  you was that kind of person” I said “What kind of person you thought I was?” now I got her nailed down she don’t want to tell me nothing you know “ I said “what kind of person you thought was?” (laughter)

Let me tell you this let me tell you this, Man I’m so glad to talk to you, you just made my day man! (laughter) I was up in, I may have told you this story. Few years ago, I was up in Largo, Maryland not too far from where you from, so I was doing an interview.  I was there with Betty Thompson when I had got invited by Jesse Jackson’s son which is Jr., who was a speaker for the morning.  They had another speaker in the afternoon cause they was doing a inside college career day you know.  They invited me down, and one got up and he was talking.  He was real educated about 45 or 50 years old and he was from Virginia.  Because he was talking to a bunch of southern people, he underestimated they intelligence because they from the south, you follow me?

He said “Before I start to speaking, I want to make sure that I am speaking in a tone that these southern people can understand me.” Now first of all, he done tore his ass up with me right then.

NEO:  Right. Right. (laughter)

BOBBY RUSH:  You know where I’m coming with this.

NEO:  yeah. (laughter)

BOBBY RUSH:  He said “But some of them southern people know as much as we do up here.” (laughter) You hear what this man said, “you know as much as we do up here”.  He said “Now I don’t want nobody to talk about no black or white issue, because it’s not no black or white issue with me. Take ole Bobby Rush. I just met him and I heard he doing pretty good for himself…. but it’s not a black or white issue.”

Now I couldn’t wait to hit the floor. It wasn’t the time to talk about it, but I said inside since you open the worms up.   You know as a writer, and Obama knows as a president, and I know as a black man it do make a difference if you black.

You follow me? I didn’t say that you can’t come out from under the gun but it makes a difference so he said “Well, Mr. Bobby Rush I want to Interview you”, so he gets me back in the back room.  He said “I want to do it personally a one on one,” I said “we can do a one on one”.  But when he got back there one on one, he brought four or five people with him.  I said “I thought you said this interview was one on one?”  He said “but they with me.”   I said “If you gone do me one on one with me, let me bring a few peoples in so they can witness what you ask me?”

He said “What does it matter?”  I said “Some things you ask me you’ll die for.”  He said “You’ll kill somebody?”  I said “Depends on what you ask me.” (laughing) Now I really got him going.  “We want to talk about your career Bobby Rush, before we get into your career, I want to ask what you think about the president?” Now already now I said “What’s that got to do with my career?”  He said “I just want to know what you think about him.  Did you vote for him?” I sure did, “Was it because of his presidential knowledge, or because he was black?”

I said “First I voted for him because he was black, next because he knew what he knew.”  Now I really got him going.   He said “Where you live?”  I said, “I live in Mississippi.” He said “Oh, oh Mississippi. What do you think about the oil spill? Did you think Obama should have done something about the oil spill?”  I said “Well first of all they should have had a rehearsal.”  Now he don’t know what to think.  He don’t know what to ask me behind all this stuff.

“How are you going make a rehearsal of a oil spill?”  Well, I said, “When we went to school, I think I told you this story, when we went to school we had a fire drill. You know what the fire drill for? Just in case it be a fire. Just in case. You know I’m a country boy.  Now my daddy raised hogs, cows, chickens, and everything and more hogs than anything else.  He said, “Well, I don’t know about it.”  I said “But you know the sow is the girl hog, and she the ones have the babies, and she got the tits and when pigs are small they suck they mommas tits.  But did you ever notice that boy hogs got tits too?”  He said “yeah.” I said “Just in case.” He ain’t interviewed me yet.

NEO:   That is too funny.

BOBBY RUSH:  Now why would he lower my intelligence to try talk about Obama, because I’m a black man.  He tried to switch it.   What he said wasn’t no bad question.  But I understood what he was trying to do, get me to say something about Obama so he can write what I said about Obama.

Look I know you get a lot of critics come at you because you are a writer. And let me tell you one thing.  Black people as a whole, with the preachers and all, they should uphold what you say.  Because you can speaks some things that they can’t say.  Why don’t they let you be their mouthpiece for rights and freedom? You could be their mouthpiece if they just shut up and let you do what you do.

It’s almost like Martin Luther King died, not because he was doing things others wouldn’t do, but he was a front leader for freedom, for what we wanted to do.

Reporters  say  “Man, I got a blues singer I’m going to interview”, but when they start talking to me they say “Well, what do you do other than sing the blues?”  I said “nothing but sing the blues.” I know where they coming from, you follow me? But you know for the first time- this has been the hardest thing for me to tell the truth and yet encourage the young people what it really is.

You know we read about the cow jumped over the moon but we know the cow didn’t really jump over the moon. That’s why I really appreciate what we’re talking about and what you are doing. I am so glad to be a part of it with this interview. ■