Rusty York: Rusty York - Rusty Rocks
It's time to pay tribute to one of the great unknowns. Most rock 'n' roll fans know Rusty York's hit, Sugaree..., it's one of the last truly great rockabilly singles. But there was much more to his career, and it's a career that opens the door onto the thriving Cincinnati scene in the 1950s. We begin with Rusty York in the King and Rite studio in 1957 covering several of the big hits of the day before hooking up with Jackie DeShannon's manager/partner, Pat Nelson, to record a blistering instrumental, Cajun Blues, for Fraternity and Dot. He recorded Sugaree for Nelson's label, but it was acquired by Chess, and became a nationwide hit. Rusty York toured with Jack Scott and the big stars of the day. He recorded one more session for Chess (unissued at the time) before cutting more instrumentals for Sage & Sand Records. Then, in 1961, came the incredible session for King with Hank Ballard's band, featuring Tremblin', Lovestruck, and Ballard's Tore Up Over You. We close with the rare rocking version of Jimmy Reed's
Baby What You Want Me To Do, the song that Elvis would make into a classic a few years later.
Rusty York became a successful studio owner. He rarely plays revival shows, but he's one of the great untold stories of the rock 'n' roll era. Bear Family has gone to great lengths to find original audio sources, and we've borrowed Rusty York's own photo album to make this set into an absolute must-have.
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|York, Rusty - Rusty York - Rusty Rocks CD 1|
|03||The Girl Can't Help It|
|04||Mean Woman Blues|
|06||Great Balls Of Fire|
|07||Shake 'em Up Baby|
|08||Red Rooster (instrumental)|
|10||Peggy Sue (2)|
|12||Tore Up Over You|
|15||La Dee Dah (& BONNIE LOU)|
|16||Cajun Blues/Frosty (instrumental)|
|17||Goodnight Cincinnati, Good Morning Tennessee|
|18||Sweet Love (2)|
|19||You'd Better Leave My Baby Alone|
|20||Baby What You Want Me To Do|
|21||Don't Do It|
|22||One, One, One, Wonderful (instrumental)|
|25||Tore Up Over You (alt)|
|26||The Girl Can't Help It (2)|
|27||A Fallen Star|
Rusty York Rocks
Rusty York is a music business success story, but ironically one without major chart action (his only hit stalled at #77 in 'Billboard'nearly forty-five years ago), and without songwriting success. Deep catalog bluegrass fans know him for his involvement in Jimmie Skinner's career and his early bluegrass gigs around his adopted hometown of Cincinnati. Some remember his mid-Sixties tours with Bobby Bare. All of the above were better than regular day jobs, but just barely paid the bills, so Rusty built a studio just north of Cincinnati, and just about anyone who wants to record in that area goes there. These days, he drives his Rolls Royce around the north side of Cincinnati, complains about the high cost of the parts and accessories, and manages his studio complex.
Charles Edward York was born in Gray's Knob near Harlan in Harlan County, Kentucky on May 24, 1935. His father was a miner. Most mornings, he could pick up the Hazard station that hosted Jimmie Skinner and Ray Lunsford. "I thought Jimmie was great," says Rusty. "Listening to him was my big thrill." Later, they would work together, and Rusty would replace the legendary Lunsford in Jimmie's line-up.
Rusty's early career was quite predictable: Daddy taught him a few chords; he listened to the Grand Ole Opry from Nashville, and Mid-Day Merry-Go-Round from Knoxville; and he picked up a little knowledge here and there. Meanwhile, the family was moving around. Rusty started school in Viper, Kentucky, and then moved on to Jackson in Breathitt County. When Flatt & Scruggs played the local Jaxon Theater in Jackson, Rusty was immediately taken with the masterful sound of Earl Scruggs' rolling three-finger banjo style. He came of age just as bluegrass itself was being born, and was among the original fans to hear the early masters and emulate them.
The Yorks left rural Kentucky for Cincinnati on Rusty's seventeenth birthday, May 24, 1952. For those unfamiliar with the area's geography, Cincinnati is just across the Ohio River from Covington, Kentucky, and its original German and Dutch population was on the point of being overtaken by Kentuckians seeking better employment and better times.
Within a few weeks of arriving in Cincinnati, Rusty's father died, and Rusty went to work in Walt's Restaurant. Later, he worked in a stockbrokers office, albeit not as a stockbroker. In the evenings, he would hang out at Larry's Café, where he met a banjo player, Wilson Spivey, who had a regular spot on WZIP in Covington, Kentucky. Around the same time, Rusty began working with Willard Hale, from Somerset, Kentucky. They played the joints as a bluegrass duo, like Flatt & Scruggs in training. Charles Edward York now became 'Rusty York' because his sister had bought him a guitar with 'Rusty' already stencilled on it in three-inch gold letters.
Just as Rusty's bluegrass career was taking off, Elvis burst onto the scene. Rusty worked Mystery Train into his act and the crowd went wild. Maybe,he thought, there's something to this. "I liked it," he said, "but I thought it would be a flash-in-the-pan and I'd go back to country." Club patrons would call out for Hound Dog, and Rusty would respond with, "How about 'Little Cabin Home On The Hill?'" It seemed as though times had irrevocably changed, but then Rusty and Willard got to know Jimmie Skinner, who was not about to rock or roll. Not then, not ever. Rusty worked showdates and radio with Skinner, and gave up his day job at the stockbroker's office to work at Jimmie Skinner's Music Center. He helped engineer Jimmie's live show from the store, then switched to the mail order department.
from booklet BCD16543 - Rusty York Rusty York - Rusty Rocks
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