Blues veteran Bobby Rush is in quarantine with COVID-19-like symptoms, but he has not been formally diagnosed with the virus.
Jeff DeLia of 72 Music Management, who’s worked with Rush since 1972, says in a statement to Billboard that the 86-year-old musician “is recovering from being sick with a cold or virus these past couple of weeks. We decided to keep it as a private matter so we could keep his phone lines clear so he could rest. We do not have the result of the COVID-19 test, but his symptoms have been consistent with coronavirus COVID-19. Over the last two weeks he had a bad fever for four days, aches, lack of appetite, a brief mild cough, and general weakness. The cough left, fever broke about a week ago, his appetite came back about five days ago, and his strength has been coming back in recent days.
“He has been quarantined at his home in Jackson, Miss., including keeping a distance from his family. It has been a very challenging time for Bobby Rush and his family. He feels like he’s on the other end of it, but it is still weighing him down to some degree. He does need to continue to rest and not talk too much. We do appreciate any prayers and good intentions his fans and friends send his way. We are so grateful to all of the doctors that have evaluated and advised him throughout this. He has expressed deep gratitude to everyone for their support.
“At this point, looking back at the severity of his symptoms, he feels like it’s a miracle that he is feeling much better. Let us pray together that his strength will continue to increase, sustain, and that he will be protected for years and years to come.”
Rush was born Emmett Ellis Jr. in Homer, La., in 1933 and received his first musical tutelage from his father, a pastor who played guitar and harmonica. He’s won 12 Blues Music Awards as well as a Grammy for best traditional blues album for 2016’s Porcupine Meat. He’s been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame and the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, and he appeared in the 2017 documentary I Am the Blues.
His most recent release, Sitting on Top of the Blues, came out last year. Before its release, Rush told Billboard that he’s conscious of his legacy — and his responsibility as one of the oldest blues artists still on the circuit. “I feel like I’m in this place now where I’m the oldest blues singer in this category. Henry Gray is still around, but he doesn’t have as many records out. So I’m the old man around here — and I’m so thankful. I’m so blessed to be in the business so long and maintaining it.”