Rush was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the adopted son of a teacher at St. Paul's School, in Concord, New Hampshire. Tom began performing in 1961 while studying at Harvard University after having graduated from the Groton School. He majored in English literature. Many of his early recordings are versions of Lowland Scots and Appalachian folk songs. He regularly performed at the Club 47 coffeehouse (now called Club Passim) in Cambridge, the Unicorn in Boston, and The Main Point in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.
Rush is credited by Rolling Stone magazine with ushering in the era of the singer/songwriter. In addition to performing his own compositions, he sang songs by Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Murray McLauchlan, David Wiffen and William Hawkins, helping them to gain recognition early in their careers.
His 1968 composition "No Regrets" has become an acknowledged standard, with numerous cover versions having been recorded (Rush did two radically different versions himself). These include The Walker Brothers, who gave Tom Rush a belated Top Ten exposure as a songwriter on the UK singles chart, Emmylou Harris, who included the song on her 1988 album Bluebird, and Midge Ure whose cover also made the UK Top Ten.
A video of his performance of Steven Walters' "The Remember Song" was placed on YouTube and to date (June 2012) it has received over 6 million plays. Writing on his website, Rush said, "I've been waiting 45 years to be an overnight sensation, and it's finally happened! A video clip of my performance of "The Remember Song" has 'gone viral.' I felt terrible at first, thinking I was being accused of being a musical equivalent of Ebola, but my children explained to me that this was a good thing." One of the earliest music videos produced (1968) for an artist by a record company, Elektra, can be found at his website, www.tomrush.com. It was used to promote his signature song, "No Regrets" for "The Circle Game" album. A number of recent videos from a 2010 concert performed in Old Saybrook, CT can be found on the video website Vimeo under a search for Tom Rush.
Tom Rush is married to author Renée Askins and was formerly married to singer Beverly Rush.
Over the years Tom Rush has used a number of guitars on stage, his current primary one a handcrafted acoustic made by Don Musser. In February 2012, Rush appeared on stage in Colorado with a new instrument, a cedar-top Dreadnought with an inlay of a snake wrapped around a reclining nude woman. The guitar, crafted by McKenzie & Marr Guitars is a "re-incarnation" of one of Rush's earliest acoustics - the famous "Naked Lady."
On Dec. 28, 2012, Rush appeared at Boston Symphony Hall to celebrate fifty years in the music biz.
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