Bobby Rush – Chicken Heads – 50th Anniversary

 

Bobby+Rush-Chichen+Heads+(feat.+Buddy+Guy)

FORTHE 50thANNIVERSARY OF BOBBY RUSH’S SONG “CHICKEN HEADS,”GRAMMY WINNER ENLISTS HELP

FROM BLUES TITANS BUDDY GUY, GOV’T MULE,AND CHRISTONE “KINGFISH” INGRAM FOR VINYL EP

JACKSON, Miss. —In 1971, Bobby Rush released the single “Chicken Heads” on Galaxy Records (later sold to Fantasy Records and Concord Music) and in the subsequent months it inched up the Billboard R&B chart, marking his first career hit. (The B-side was a track called “Mary Jane.”)

On Record Store Day/Black Friday (November 26, 2021), Rush celebrated the song’s 50th anniversary with new duet versions featuring three blues giants: Buddy Guy, Gov’t Mule, and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram. A limited-edition 2,000-unit pressing of a 12″vinyl wasreleased exclusively in independent record stores across the United States and Europe on Bobby Rush’s own Deep Rush Records, distributed via Nashville’s Thirty Tigers & The Orchard. The single by Buddy Guy featuring Bobby Rush will be released digitally on Friday, January 28, followed by the full EPdigital releaseon Friday, February 18.

On its initial release, “Chicken Heads” topped the soul charts in Chicago and many other markets. Its laid-back, rhythm guitar-driven style stood in stark contrast to the sounds of the Dramatics, the Spinners, and Jerry Butler—all of whom were mainstays of soul radio at that time.

Over the years,“Chicken Heads” has been a staple of Rush’slive performance,whether with his full Southern soul band and two booty dancers or stripped down acoustic and solo,with Rush sharing the story of how the record deal came to be with the aid of his colleague, A&Rman/producer/songwriter Calvin Carter.

The song has been utilized in film and television,leading to its second emergenceon a Billboardchart as part of the soundtrack for Black Snake Moan, the 2006 release starring Samuel L. Jackson and Justin Timberlake. Italso appeared in HBO’s Ballers (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), The Deuceson HBO2 (James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal), and several othershows. In 2015, “Chicken Heads,” “Mary Jane” and 72 other gems from the Bobby Rush catalog were packaged into a 50-year career retrospective box set (Blues Music Award-and Living BluesAward-winning) titled Chicken Heads: A 50-Year History of Bobby Rush,on Omnivore Recordings.

On its initial release, “Chicken Heads” topped the soul charts in Chicago and many other markets. Its laid-back, rhythm guitar-driven style stood in stark contrast to the sounds of the Dramatics, the Spinners, and Jerry Butler—all of whom were mainstays of soul radio at that time.Over the years, “Chicken Heads” has been a staple of Rush’slive performance, whether with his full Southern soul band and two booty dancers or stripped down acoustic and solo,with Rush sharing the story of how the record deal came to be with the aid of his colleague, A&R man/producer/songwriter Calvin Carter. The song has been utilized in film and television,leading to its second emergence on a Billboardchart as part of the soundtrack for Black Snake Moan, the 2006 release starring Samuel L. Jackson and Justin Timberlake. It also appeared in HBO’s Ballers (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), The Deuceson HBO2 (James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal), and several other shows. In 2015, “Chicken Heads,” “Mary Jane” and 72 other gems from the Bobby Rush catalog were packaged into a 50-year career retrospective box set (Blues Music Award-and Living BluesAward-winning) titled Chicken Heads: A 50-Year History of Bobby Rush,on Omnivore Recordings.

In 2021-22 Rush and his compilation co-producer(andlongtime manager)Jeff DeLia embarked on a project that would honor the legacy of his breakthrough composition/recording. They sought to create four new versions from the artisthimself and a group of his high-profile friends.

The result: “Chicken Heads” reimagined in the unique stylesof iconic multi-Grammy®winner Buddy Guy,jamband Gov’t Mule (who feature Allman Bros. alum Warren Haynes), and rising blues star Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, with Rush featured on each track, plus Rush’s own new takemade in Mississippi in the downhome Southern soul style that hisband has been playing it in for these last several decades. The recordings were laid down in various studios across the U.S.: Gov’t Mule in Connecticut and L.A.,produced by Gov’t Mule;Christone “Kingfish” atRoyal Studios in Memphis,produced by Nick Goldston, engineered by Boo Mitchell (Grammywinning Engineer of “Uptown Funk”); and Buddy Guy in Nashville,produced by multi-Grammywinner Tom Hambridge.

These are artistsclose to Rush’s heart:Buddy Guy has includeda version of the song at his concerts for years and the two are dear friends. Gov’t Mule has long performed another Rush song in their shows. Rush and Warren Haynes got reacquainted at the B.B. King Tribute in early 2020,which sparked a new friendship. Christone “Kingfish” Ingram is a rising star, longtime friend and mentee of Bobby Rush, and,like his mentor, a resident of Mississippi. Kingfish has gone on record stating that Rush was one of his early influences.

Bobby Rush was born Emmett Ellis Jr. inHomer, La., on November 10,1933. The son of a guitar-and harmonica-playing pastor father, hemoved throughout the South before settling in Chicago in 1953. Backing the likes of Muddy Waters and Little Walter, he was soon making his own recordings for Checker, ABC, and Salem before “Chicken Heads” put him on the map. Since then,he has released 27 studio albums and countless singles on labels such asJewel, Philadelphia International, & Warner Bros. After settling back in the South in Jackson, Miss. in the ’80s, he recorded for LaJam, Urgent, Malaco/Waldoxy and his own Deep Rush Records.

Side A:
1. Bobby Rush – Chicken Heads
2. Buddy Guy (feat. Bobby Rush) – Chicken Heads

Side B:
1. Gov’t Mule and Bobby Rush – Chicken Heads
2. Christone “Kingfish” Ingram – Chicken Head

Website: https://www.bobbyrushbluesman.com/

Bobby-Rush-Buddy-Guy-Arnie-Goodman
Credits: Arnie Goodman

Hits: 39