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THE PRE-COSTELLO RUSTY 1971

16 June 2022

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Having just left my arty first band, I wanted to form an acoustic Crosby, Stills Nash type outfit.

The singer songwriter boom was in full flow and as I didn’t know any drummers, it seemed like the obvious direction.

I bullied the other two members into playing my original material or the obvious acoustic cover hits of the day. [James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Neil Young etc.]

Our first gig was in October of ‘71 and we probably did a couple more gigs during the following month or so.

The other two really didn’t have the commitment [or was it an obsession?] that I had, to play somewhere every night regardless of money, distance or conditions.

New Years Eve 1971 – South Liverpool

A local folk club manager invited me to his New Year’s party at his apartment on the Southside of Liverpool.

When you watch any of those horrible rock n roll biopic movies about how Lennon met McCartney or Jagger met Richards or Morrison met Manzarek, one of them usually says something like ‘hey man, what’s that song you’re playing ?’

Well, in my memory that’s exactly how it happened with us. Or am I letting fact, fiction and fantasy confuse the reality.

What is true though, is that I heard this kid paying guitar and singing in a bedroom at that party.

If he’d been playing John Lee Hooker, Lead Belly or Eddie Cochran even, I would have just kept walking to the kitchen in my search for a fresh beer. As it happened he was almost certainly playing something from Big Pink or After the Goldrush and that was enough for me.

Having just come straight from a gig, my guitar was in the car and I quickly got it [thankfully, it hadn’t been stolen yet, after all, we were in 1970’s South Liverpool]

“Hey man, let’s jam”. Complete nonsense of course, I would never have used that phrase and I’m proud to say I’ve never said it in my lifetime.

What is more likely is that I plinked and plonked along with him as we meandered through every Dylan, Van Morrison, Robbie Robertson song we could think of, each of us trying to out-cool the other with our knowledge of obscure acoustic gems.

As our confidence grew we started singing with more and more gusto and it was blatantly apparent that our vocal range, singing style and limited guitar techniques were almost identical.

At the risk of sounding completely idiotic… it was almost as though I’d met myself.

We must have exchanged phone numbers because my diary entry of January 1st 1972 reads ‘asked Dec MacManus to join band’. [Our first rehearsal was 2nd January.]

….to be continued.