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Merrilee Rush is an American singer best known for her recording of the song "Angel of the Morning", a Top 10 charting song which earned her a Grammy nomination for Female Vocalist Of The Year in 1968.


Rush was born in Seattle, Washington. As a girl, she studied the classical piano for 10 years. In 1960, Rush auditioned for a band (directed by her first husband) that played sock hops. Next, she was part of Merrilee and Her Men, doing covers of male pop hits. Then she joined a Seattle rhythm and blues group called Tiny Tony and the Statics.

The band "Merrilee Rush and the Turnabouts" was formed in 1965. One of the group's roadies worked for Paul Revere and the Raiders, which was doing a tour in the south states in 1967, and they invited Rush to be their opening act.

Rush's version of "Angel of the Morning" was recorded in Memphis, Tennessee, in early 1968, and it was produced by Chips Moman and the late Tommy Cogbill. Released by the Bell Records company, in late June 1968, the song climbed to #7 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, and it reportedly reached the #1 spot in seven countries. The one millionth sale of this record was reported by the Recording Industry Association of America (R.I.A.A.) in 1970.[1]

This song gathered Rush a Grammy Award nomination for Female Vocalist of the Year. She was nominated along with Barbra Streisand ("Funny Girl"), Dionne Warwick ("Do You Know the Way to San Jose"), Aretha Franklin ("I Say a Little Prayer"), and Mary Hopkin ("Those Were the Days"). The Grammy was awarded to Warwick.

Rush appeared on numerous television programs in the 1960s and 1970s, including American Bandstand, The Joey Bishop Show, Happening, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, The Everly Brothers Show, and Something Else hosted by John Byner. In 1984, she appeared as herself, performing the holiday favorite White Christmas, in the syndicated Christmas special entitled Scrooge's Rock and Roll Christmas starring Jack Elam as Ebenezer Scrooge. That program also featured holiday performances by Three Dog Night, Paul Revere & The Raiders (sans Mark Lindsay), The Association, Bobby Goldsboro, Mike Love of The Beach Boys, Dean Torrence of Jan and Dean, and Mary MacGregor

The song "Angel of the Morning" was written by the songwriter Chip Taylor (né James Wesley Voight, the younger brother of the actor Jon Voight and the uncle of the actress Angelina Jolie). Taylor also wrote "Wild Thing", a hit for The Troggs in 1966, and "I Can't Let Go", a hit for The Hollies in the United Kingdom. Rush's recording of "Angel of the Morning" was featured prominently in the movie, Girl, Interrupted, for which Jolie won an Academy Award. "Angel of the Morning" has also been featured in the major motion pictures Jerry Maguire and Fingers starring Harvey Keitel.

In 1971, Rush signed with Scepter Records and released one single, a cover of the Carole King song, "Child Of Mine". While that was Rush's lone release on Scepter, she cut several tracks for the label including a femme version of the Billy Joel song "She's Got A Way" (He's Got A Way). In 1976, Merrilee would sign up with United Artists Records. While at U/A she released three singles, "Could It Be Love I Found Tonight", "Save Me", and "Rainstorm". Her self-titled album for that music company was released in 1977.

Merrilee Rush lives in the countryside near Seattle, Washington, in a century-old farmhouse that was built by her grandfather. She continues to perform with her own band in rock and roll nostalgia shows across the country. She is married to the singer-songwriter and entertainer Billy Mac, and together they have a successful Old English Sheepdog breeding business.

In 1989, the Northwest Area Musicians' Association (NAMA) honored Rush with membership in the NAMA Hall of Fame.

In 2003, Rush appeared as herself in the PBS special At the Drive-In along with Jan Berry and Dean Torrence (of Jan and Dean), Fabian, Bobby Vee, Chris Montez, Matthew Nelson and Gunnar Nelson (the sons of Rick Nelson), and Dodie Stevens.

Rush's Angel Of The Morning album has been re-published on compact disc via the Collector's Choice Music record label. The re-issue includes the entire original 1968 LP, and it features the Top Ten title track and the follow-up single "That Kind of Woman", as well as nine non-LP album singles and B-sides as bonus tracks. The bonus tracks include a psychedelic version of the Four Tops' "Reach Out" (an AGP label single release that reached #79 on the Billboard Hot 100), and a cover of Burt Bacharach's "What the World Needs Now", which was produced by Quincy Jones for the soundtrack album to the film Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.

The "Angel Of The Morning" sessions were recorded at Chips Moman's American Studio in Memphis and featured the same musicians who played on Elvis Presley's famous Memphis recordings. 2008 marked the 40th anniversary of the release of the "Angel Of The Morning" single and album.


  1. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd.. p. 247. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.  

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