Mrs. Claus Is Bearing a Gift for You

Monday, September 9, 2013

Rusty Day's Brother Bill - A Detroit Favorite

One of my favorite singers when it comes to classic blues rock is Rusty Day. Rusty Day who had a very interesting music career being a replacement singer for John Drake in the Amboy Dukes, a replacement for Mitch Ryder in the Detroit wheels is best known for his singing for the American Led Zeppelin group, Cactus.

Now all the young folks out there never probably heard of him, yet his singing and playing is a major influence on many big name (at one time) acts. Van Halen was influenced by Cactus in no small part to Rusty. AC DC wanted him to replace Bonn Scott but I believe Rusty was tired of being a replacement singer.As a side note, I think he sings Howlin' Wolf's "Evil" better than the Wolf himself. On that cut, Rusty shows his influence and admiration for a blues artist who is now forgotten in a world of American Idol and Lady Gaga.Personally, I also see Rusty's influence in such former great bands as Foghat and John Mellenkamp.

One thing is that he was a soulful singer who sang blues better than rock, which is rare. He never would have made it as a high screamer like those singers in the pop 80's Metal bands and definitely not in the voice manipulated screamers in Death Metal and similar sounds. Which is sad - the youth generation is not getting any real music. Another case in point is that Rusty was a musician and a fine harmonica player. This too is a rarity and unfortunate for current music listeners. I bet most American kids under the age of 25 don't know what a harmonica is, especially when it is referred to as a "harp".

Rusty never really fit in with the original Amboy Dukes musically. Ted Nugent had a hard rock vision for the band, Steve Farmer probably had a "3 Dog Night" vision for them and of course Rusty was blues. So his stint with the Dukes did not last, besides other personality reasons. He found his home with friend Jim McCarty of Buddy Miles Express and the brain team behind the Vanilla Fudge - Carmine Appice and Tim Bogert.

His career with Cactus is short but so memorable as the tunes he belted out have no equal today. When is comes singing blues and hard rock, Rusty was one of my main influences to this day, and it's unfortunate that he was killed as I have no chance to thank him for his music.

In honor of Rusty Day's death, here is a live recording of him singing Brother Bill (if you know the lyrics, you'll see the appropriateness of my selection.) Here he is with Steve Gaines:



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