George Sottung: Jimmy Rushing
Artist: George Sottung
Known as "Mr. Five-by-Five," perhaps because of the similarity between his height and width, Jimmy Rushing was also affectionately called "Little Jimmy." But his musical accomplishments are anything but small. Beginning in 1929, Rushing joined The Blue Devils, a band based in Kansas City, where he met Count Basie (the band's pianist). The two men remained together for many years to come, first joining a band led by Jimmy Moten in 1932. After Moten's death in 1935, Basie formed his own Swing band which Rushing joined. Giving a Blues overtone to Swing, Rushing was considered the only Blues vocalist to tour with a major Swing band. For the next 15 years, Rushing remained with Count Basie. In fact it was only the dissolution of the band in 1950 that would separate the two men, though they were later reunited at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival. Rushing was a dedicated performer who knew that the Blues came only from experiencing poverty, deprivation and sadness firsthand. "Rich people don't know nothing about the Blues, please believe me," he once said. "The Blues comes right back to a person's feelings, to his daily activities in life." One of Rushing's most popular songs was the aptly-titled Swinging the Blues. One O'clock Jump was another Rushing favorite. George Sottung painted this portrait of an exuberant Jimmy Rushing, who died of cancer in 1972.
This painting was originally published on the Fleetwood® First Day Cover for the U.S. 29¢ Jimmy Rushing stamp issued September 17, 1994.
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