Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.

Tom Rush has never had a hit record.

The man who has made a career of singing other people's songs and who is generally recognized as having "discovered" young songwriters like Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchel, has remained somewhat of a music-biz misfit; a singer in search of a song. He doesn't have a record label, nor a manager. He hasn't been in a recording studio for 2 1/2 years.

But that doesn't bother his fans. Rush has managed to virtually sell out five nights at the Cellar Door, where he is appearing through Sunday. And on the strength of his opening-night performances, no one should be disappointed.

Accompanying himself on acoustic guitar Wednesday night, Rush moved through a wide selection of oldies, Blues and folk favorites. High points of the set were a funky version of Sleepy John Estes, "Drop Down Mama" and a brooding rendition of Joni Mitchell's "Urge for Going."

Rush says it's "traumatic" for him to try out new songs, though he has been writing, and will probably perform this material on the weekend when he will be joined by three members of his back-up band. He really doesn't need one, or a hit record for that matter.