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Jimmy Rushing

James Andrew Rushing (August 26, 1901 – June 8, 1972) was an American blues and jazz singer, and pianist from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, best known as the featured vocalist of Count Basie's Orchestra from 1935 to 1948.

Rushing was known as "Mr. Five by Five" and was the subject of an eponymous 1942 popular song that was a hit for Harry James and others; the lyrics describe Rushing's rotund build: "he's five feet tall and he's five feet wide". He joined Walter Page's Blue Devils in 1927 and then joined Bennie Moten's band in 1929. He stayed with the successor Count Basie band when Moten died in 1935.

Rushing said that his first time singing in front of an audience was in 1924. He was playing piano at a club when the featured singer, Carlyn Williams, invited him to do a vocal. "I got out there and broke it up. I was a singer from then on," he said.

Rushing was a powerful singer who had a range from baritone to tenor. He has sometimes been classified as a blues shouter. He could project his voice so that it soared over the horn and reed sections in a big-band setting. Basie claimed that Rushing "never had an equal" as a blues vocalist, though Rushing "really thought of himself as a ballad singer." George Frazier, the author of Harvard Blues, called Rushing's distinctive voice "a magnificent gargle". Dave Brubeck defined Rushing's status among blues singers as "the daddy of them all." Late in his life Rushing said of his singing style, "I don't know what kind of blues singer you'd call me. I just sing 'em." Among his best-known recordings are "Going to Chicago", with Basie, and "Harvard Blues", with a famous saxophone solo by Don Byas.

Birth and Death Data: Born August 26th, 1901 (Oklahoma City), Died June 8th, 1972 (New York City)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1929 - 1939

Roles Represented in DAHR: vocalist, lyricist, songwriter

Notes: Listed on some disc labels as James Rushing.

Recordings (Results 26-34 of 34 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Decca 63286 10-in. 2/16/1938 Sent for you yesterday (and here you come today) Count Basie Orchestra vocalist  
Decca 63288 10-in. 2/16/1938 Now will you be good? Count Basie Orchestra vocalist  
Decca 63918 10-in. 6/6/1938 Mama don't want no peas' n' rice' n' cocoanut oil Count Basie Orchestra vocalist  
Decca 64471 10-in. 8/22/1938 Stop beatin' round the mulberry bush Count Basie Orchestra ; Jimmy Rushing vocalist  
Decca 64472 10-in. 8/22/1938 London bridge is falling down Count Basie Orchestra vocalist  
Decca 64748 10-in. 11/16/1938 The blues I like to hear Count Basie Orchestra vocalist  
Decca 64749 10-in. 11/16/1938 Do you wanna jump, children? Count Basie Orchestra vocalist  
Decca 64978 10-in. 2/2/1939 You can depend on me Count Basie Sextet vocalist  
Decca 64984 10-in. 2/4/1939 Evil blues-1 Count Basie Orchestra vocalist  
(Results 26-34 of 34 records)


Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Rushing, Jimmy," accessed December 2, 2021,

Rushing, Jimmy. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved December 2, 2021, from

"Rushing, Jimmy." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 2 December 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier



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