Rusty York

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Rusty York
Birth name Charles Edward York
Born (1935-05-24)May 24, 1935
Harlan, Kentucky, United States
Died January 26, 2014(2014-01-26) (aged 78)
Redington Shores, Florida, United States
Genres Bluegrass, country, rockabilly
Occupation(s) Musician, guitarist, singer, songwriter
Years active 1950s–2014
Labels Starday, King, Chess, Jewel

Rusty York (born Charles Edward York; May 24, 1935 - January 26, 2014)[1] was an American musician and singer, and member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He is mostly known for his rockabilly song "Sugaree."

Biography[edit]

York was born in Harlan, Kentucky, United States.[2] His father worked in coal mines having trouble holding a job.[3] His father bought him a guitar and taught him the only chord he knew; young York was mainly self-taught. He listened to the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday nights and to the Mid-Day Merry-Go-Round and Cas Walker programs from Knoxville radio. A 1951 concert appearance by Earl Scruggs & the Foggy Mountain Boys was an inspiration for the young York. York's earliest idols were bluegrass artists: Jimmie Skinner and Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs.

In 1952, his family left Kentucky for Cincinnati, Ohio. They moved into the Over-the-Rhine area. Within a few weeks, his father died, and the boy had to go to work, initially finding a job in the kitchen at Walt's Restaurant (later Frisch's). As a result, he never finished high school, but did move up the economic ladder by becoming an office boy in a stockbroker's firm. Meanwhile, he began playing in a duo in local clubs with Wilson Spivey during the evenings. York obtained a five-string banjo and began to learn the Scruggs style.[3] Rusty started a bluegrass duo with Willard Hale, playing the local clubs. Just as his bluegrass career was taking off, the duo gigged locally with acts like Jimmie Skinner and Hylo Brown. York decided that an update in their sound was necessary. Soon, they played mostly rock-and-roll songs, but would still perform about 15 minutes of bluegrass nightly. York and Hale cut a version of Buddy Holly's "Peggy Sue" for King, with a remake of Roy Brown's "Shake' Em Up Baby" on the flip. That led to York's teaming up with Midwestern Hayride's vocalist Bonnie Lou in a rockabilly project. They recorded "Let The School Bell Ring, Ding A Ling", written by Henry Glover, and a cover of Billy & Lillie's hit "La Dee Dah".

By 1958, York had assembled a band, the Cajuns, which consisted of York on vocals and guitar, Bill Lanham on bass, blind saxophone player Jimmy Risch, John Bower on piano, and Rick Lundy on drums. In 1959, the group backed Jackie Shannon (later known as Jackie DeShannon) on "Just Another Lie". The B-side, "Cajun Blues", was an instrumental by the Cajuns, and recorded for Fraternity. In 1959, they also recorded "Just Another Lie", also for Fraternity. A few weeks later a friend named Pat Nelson rented the King studio for an independent session intended for his PJ label. York recorded a single, with an up-tempo version of instrumental "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain" on one side, re-titled "Red Rooster", and Marty Robbins' composition "Sugaree", the Jordanaires had recorded in November 1956, on the other side. In 1959, "Sugaree" reached #77 on the Billboard Hot 100. Soon, Rusty York toured with Dick Clark of American Bandstand fame. That tour included a sellout appearance at the Hollywood Bowl. The show also included Frankie Avalon, Duane Eddy, and Annette Funicello. As Rusty and the Cajuns opened the show, they had the honor of being the first rock act to play the Hollywood Bowl.[3]

The rockabilly phase was a minor success, and by the 1960s, York had returned to bluegrass and turned towards country music. In 1961, he started building a studio in his garage. By the early 1970s, York had retired from performing to concentrate on his Jewel Records imprint/studio full-time. Jewel continued to operate out of Cincinnati throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and into the 21st century. He continued to play music and remained friends with many of the other artists with whom he has risen to fame. After selling the Jewel Recording Studio in 2008, York and his family relocated from Southern Ohio to the Florida.

Rusty York died on January 26, 2014, in Redington Shores, Florida, after a long bout with degenerative brain disease. He was 78.[2]

Discography[edit]

  • 1960 - Rust York and the Kentucky Mountain Boys
  • 1968 - Sings Like Crazy
  • 1973 - Dueling Banjos
  • 1981 - Rock 'n' Memories
  • 2001 - Early Bluegrass
  • 2004 - Rusty Rocks

Musical contributions[edit]

  • "Shake 'Em Up Baby"
  • "Peggy Sue"
  • "Sugaree"
  • "Red Rooster"
  • "The Lock On Your Heart"
  • "Don't Do It"
  • "Sadie-Mae"
  • "Margaret Ann"
  • "That's What I Need"
  • "Just Like You"
  • "Love Struck"
  • "Goodnight [!!] Cincinnati, Goodmorning [!!] Tennessee"
  • "Tore Up Over You"
  • "Tremblin'"
  • "I Might Just Walk Right Back Again"
  • "Sally Was A Good Old Girl"
  • "Big Man, Big House"
  • "Crazy"
  • "Sing The Girls A Song, Bill"

References[edit]

  • Artist Direct (2006)[4]
  • The Rockabilly Hall Of Fame (2006)[3]
  1. ^ "Country Music, Rockabilly & Hillbilly: Rusty York R.I.P". Hillbillycountry.blogspot.de. 2014-01-28. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  2. ^ a b "January to June 2014". The Dead Rock Stars Club. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Rusty York". Rockabillyhall.com. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  4. ^ "Rusty York @ARTISTdirect". Artistdirect.com. 1935-05-24. Retrieved 2014-02-05.