Pat Rush is an internationally acclaimed guitarist. He has played and jammed with Johnny Winter, The Allman Brothers, Muddy Waters, B.B. King and many more. He toured with James Cotton for three years. Pat was also a member of The Jeff Healey Band for twelve years.
I was so honored to schmooze with him on Hatradio! this April 2019, all the time sensing I was with someone very special and highly accomplished. The interview felt historic in nature.
Pat was thirteen when he learned how to play guitar. He bought his first axe for $13.99 from his neighbor Bobby Miles. His mom loaned him the cash of which he repaid mowing lawns at .50 cents each.
After a few months of lessons using the Mel Bay method, his teacher, Don Russell, told Pat’s mom he couldn’t teach Pat anymore as he’s already so far ahead in the books. He said, “you don’t need me anymore. Let Pat learn and he’ll teach you (Pat’s mom was taking lessons with him).” And that’s what happened.
Pat grew and grew as a guitarist playing churches and school venues. His first paid gig was in a church. He received $20 and shared it with the band members. The years passed and eventually Pat launched a band called Thunderhead. “We filled the places we played. Thunderhead was a big band,” Pat said.
The iconic guitarist, Johnny Winter sat in. He also produced one of their albums. Edgar Winterplayed piano on it. Ultimately Pat came to see Johnny and Edgar as dear friends. Later on Pat toured with Johnny, and they lived together. “Edgar used to beat me in pool,” Pat said, “even though he was legally blind”.
Pat, as mentioned, has played with the gurus of rock and blues including, James Cotton and Muddy Waters. He learned slide guitar from Duane Allman (in Holiday Inns where they stayed after gigs in the South) and later on taught Jose Feliciano how to play that same style of guitar.
One evening, during a concert at Toad’s Place in New Haven, Muddy called Pat up on stage. They jammed and then Muddy told Pat he wasn’t feeling well and wanted him to play the encore. Pat figured he’s use Bob Margolin’s (a band member) guitar but Muddy handed him his red telecaster instead. Muddy exited the stage and they played ‘Dust my Blues’. Pat said the place went nuts. Later, Bob said to Pat, “do you have any idea what happened here tonight? Muddy won’t even let me touch that guitar”. Bob said Muddy never loaned his guitar to anyone in fact denied Eric Clapton the right to play it one night. Pat is special and Muddy got that.
Pat loved Jeff Healey. They traveled together. Listened to records together. And of course, played the blues and rock together for a dozen years. Pat describes his time with Jeff as magical and says he misses him dearly. He spoke about him in very fond terms. “Jeff had an uncanny ability to remember the titles, tracks and musicians on all of his 35,000 albums”, Pat said.
Pat made up a game called “Stump the Jeff”, in an effort to trip up Healey. Pat said, “I never did. Not once. He was a savant. “ By the way, the name of this episode – ‘Slide Patty, Slide!‘ is from a YouTube video I saw where Jeff instructed Pat during a wicked rock song, to play a lead. Jeff said to him, “Slide Patty, slide”. And he did. I loved that!
Pat Rush is indeed a special man. He is soft spoken and has a sweet way about him. And, Pat is one hell of a guitar player, a prodigy, who is an integral member of the rock and roll and blues world. I was proud to have him as our guest and to hear about his life, his history, his stories.
Have a listen to my schmooze with Pat Rush and let me know what you think. Thanks so much for listening!
Happy Passover and Easter. Fight for freedom. Unlock the chains of slavery. Today, in our world, there are still 45 million slaves, 10 million of which are children.
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