Merrilee Rush (born on 26 January 1944), is an American singer, best known for her recording of the song "Angel of the Morning", a Top 10 song which earned her a Grammy nomination for Female Vocalist Of The Year in 1968. She grew up in the north end of Seattle, Washington, USA. As a child, she studied classical piano for 10 years. In 1960, she 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.
In 1960, she 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.
Merrilee and the Turnabouts was formed in 1965. One of the group's roadies worked for Paul Revere and the Raiders, who were doing a tour in the South in 1967 and invited Rush to be their opening act.
Her rendition of "Angel of the Morning" was recorded in Memphis, Tennessee, in early 1968 and was produced by Chips Moman and the late Tommy Cogbill. Released by Bell Records, in late June, 1968 it climbed to #7 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart; it reportedly reached No. 1 in seven countries. The one millionth sale of the record was reported by the R.I.A.A. in 1970. The song garnered Rush a Grammy nomination for Female Vocalist of the Year. She was nominated alongside 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").
She 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, Something Else hosted by John Byner, and many more.
"Angel of the Morning" was written by Chip Taylor (born James Wesley Voight, younger brother of actor Jon Voight and uncle to actress Angelina Jolie), who also wrote "Wild Thing", a hit for The Troggs in 1966, and "I Can't Let Go", a hit for The Hollies in the UK. Rush's recording of "Angel of the Morning" was featured prominently in the film, 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 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 the label was released in 1977.
Rush now lives in the countryside near Seattle, in a century-old farm house built by her grandfather. She continues to perform with her own band and in rock and roll nostalgia shows across the country. She is married to singer-songwriter and entertainer Billy Mac, and together they have a successful Old English Sheepdog breeding business.
In 1989 the Northwest Area Musicians' Association honored Rush with induction into the NAMA Hall of Fame.
In 2003 she 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 (sons of Rick Nelson), Dodie Stevens and others.
Rush's Angel Of The Morning album has been reissued on compact disc via the Collector's Choice Music label. The reissue includes the entire original 1968 LP, featuring the Top Ten title track and the follow-up single "That Kind of Woman" as well as nine non-LP 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.