January 1972 – Rusty Is Now A Four And Then A Three Piece

23 June 2022


Rehearsing between January 2nd and our first gig on January 21st were something of a formality.

Our styles were so similar and our repertoire likewise that we strummed the same chords and interchanged harmonies without a moment’s thought.

[If Elvis Costello 1977 was to be referred to as ‘Buddy Holly on acid’ then Rusty 1972 was ‘The Everly Brothers on acid’!]

On January 21st at the Lamplight Club in Wallasey on Merseyside, the four piece Rusty made their live debut. It was a paying gig and the seven pounds we were paid was split four ways.

The set list that night included five of my originals, one Macmanus original and a smattering of Neil Young, Dylan etc. That ratio was very rapidly about to change particularly in view of the fact that the Macmanus original that night was Warm House, a song that would re-emerge numerous times in the future.

How can I be so precise about the details of that night?

Something made me write down in full the details of every gig that Rusty played. Something I had never done before and have never done in the 50 years since. Did I foresee that someone one day might be interested in these facts? Actually yes, but I thought I we’d be famous by July 1972 not July 2022!

An idiotic side story;

In that first month we were approached with a management offer. Not as glamorous as it sounds because this guy was no Brian Epstein. He immediately changed our name to Procyon [‘Rusty makes you sound like a country band’] and did absolutely nothing for us although I still have a cutting from a Liverpool newspaper that bills us as Procyon.

The joke here was two-fold, Procyon was the name of some intergalactic star [we were certainly not Hawkwind] and a very popular slimming bread of the day was called Procea so we immediately became the butt of many a joke from our friends and acquaintances. Mr. Donaghy and his misspelled contract were disposed of pretty rapidly and we reverted back to being Rusty by the end of February.

March 1972, our non-instrument playing singer, Dave Jago, quit the band and the set list was beginning to include more and more Macmanus originals.

The Teenage D.P. MacManus – Songwriter

George Harrison always maintained that turning up to a Beatles rehearsal with a new song he’d written was soul-destroying, as he felt he could never compete with John and Paul’s obvious genius. Apparently on many occasions he kept the new song stashed away in his pocket and departed without it never seeing the light of day.

In my situation I was nothing like George Harrison, I wasn’t even Ringo Starr. By comparison to what Declan was writing, I was more Ringo’s pool guy. I wrote songs that sounded as though they’d been written by an 18 year old school boy. Not too surprising though as I WAS an 18 year old school boy.

His songs however were a joy to hear and a joy to sing. Some of my favorite on-stage moments were singing back up on songs from his rapidly growing repertoire. Several of these made it onto the Rusty demo of the period. So well received by record companies, that my rejection folder is massive.

Speaking of disappointments, on March 20th 1972, we entered the local heats of the Melody Maker Folk Rock Contest. Absolutely convinced we would cruise to victory, we drove home from Manchester on a grey rainy day totally dejected and unplaced. Some consolation though in that the eventual national winners disappeared without trace within weeks of their “victory”.