Rusty

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Rusty: Declan MacManus (left) and Allan Mayes, circa 1972-73.

Rusty was Elvis Costello's first band. He and Allan Mayes performed together under that name from the beginning of 1972 through the middle of 1973.

Members

  • Allan Mayes - vocals, guitar. Member October 1971 through June 1973.
  • Elvis Costello, as Declan MacManus - vocals, guitar. Member January 1972 through June 1973.
  • Alan Brown - vocals, bass. Member October 1971 through July 1972.
  • Dave Jago - vocals. Member October 1971 through February 1972.

Rusty story

Before Declan

Allan Mayes formed the band Rusty in October 1971. Then nearly 18, Allan was a veteran of the Liverpool scene, having already played in a music-and-poetry group called Medium Theater for a couple of years. Allan broke from Medium Theater, along with that group's bass player, Alan Brown, with the idea of forming a more mainstream folk-rock group along the lines of Crosby, Still & Nash. Rusty was initially a three-person group that featured Allan Mayes on guitar and vocals, Alan Brown on bass and vocals, and a singer named Dave Jago.

Allan and Declan

Rusty play a poetry reading, circa 1972-73.: Declan MacManus (center, in striped shirt, with guitar) and Allan Mayes (to the right, in dark shirt, with guitar).
Declan MacManus (left) and Rusty bassist Alan Brown, 1972. Photo from Q magazine, October 1995. This photo is frequently misidentified as being Declan MacManus and Allan Mayes.

Allan met 17-year-old Declan MacManus at a party on New Year's Eve 1971. The two remembered each other slightly from a Medium Theater event Declan had attended earlier that year. Neither young man was much for partying, and both had brought their guitars, so they soon found an unoccupied room and started trading songs. Allan was delighted to find that Declan shared many of his musical interests, including Crosby, Stills & Nash, Neil Young, Van Morrison, and The Band. The next day, Allan called Declan and invited him to join Rusty.

Declan debuted with the group three weeks later, adding his guitar and vocals to the original three-piece lineup. Singer Dave Jago left the group a few weeks after Declan joined. Bassist Alan Brown gradually became a less frequent participant through the summer of 1972, when he quit to attend university in Coventry. Allan and Declan continued as a duo until Rusty disbanded in 1973, after Declan moved away from Liverpool.

Prior to joining Rusty, Declan had been performing his own songs at folk clubs for about two years, first in London and then in Liverpool after he'd moved there with his mother, usually for free at open-mic nights and, more recently, occasionally for a little money. Joining Rusty meant he was performing in front of an audience regularly for the first time. The band played 88 gigs in 1972 alone, albeit typically to audiences of a few dozen people.

Rusty played pubs, social clubs, schools, community centers, and poetry readings. On a good night, they might earn as much as £8 or £10, but more typically they were paid much less or even nothing. For about seven months starting in early June 1972, they organized a regular Tuesday-night gig at a place called Temple Bar, where they played their own sets and hosted other groups. Although the vast majority of Rusty's gigs were in the Merseyside area, they booked a few gigs further afield, including a three-gig, long-weekend trip to London in July 1972.

Throughout the lifetime of the band, Rusty largely remained true Allan's original concept: a folk-rock outfit that played original songs, some popular songs of the day, and more obscure covers that were favorites of the band. Heavily represented in the last category were Brinsley Schwarz, an importantly early influence on Declan that continued even when he became Elvis Costello. Allan claims, credibly, to have introduced Declan to Brinsley Schwarz's music.

Allan realized right away that his new bandmate was a gifted and prolific songwriter, able to quickly come up with good songs in a variety of styles. Allan also reports that Declan already had some of the intensity as a performer that would eventually make him famous. For his part, Declan regarded Allan as a better singer and guitarist than himself, and much more confident in front of a crowd. Allan was also highly organized, keeping notes of their gigs, set lists, and song lyrics.

Although Allan and Declan typically wrote songs separately, Allan recalls that they worked together on two songs. Declan, by then Elvis Costello, recorded one of these songs as Ghost Train, after many revisions. Allan also recorded a version of this co-composition as Maureen And Sam on his 1986 album Stumbling In The Aisle.

In November 1972, Rusty made a lo-fi home demo of six of their songs, four of Declan's and two of Allan's. As far as either man can recall, the tape garnered no interest, perhaps partly because they had forgotten to clean the heads of the cassette recorder before making it.

By early 1973, Declan realized that the music scene in Liverpool was too small to support his ambition to become a professional songwriter and musician. He would have to move back to London to have a real chance at making it. Allan never seriously considered going with him because he had a good day job in Liverpool and booked steady work as a solo act between Rusty gigs. Declan played his last gig with Allan in Liverpool on February 9, but kept the band's few upcoming out-of-town commitments after he moved to London. The last of these was June 24, 1973, gig at the University of Warwick, booked courtesy of former Rusty bassist and current Warwick student, Alan Brown. This two-set gig earned Rusty their biggest payday ever, £17.

After Rusty

Allan Mayes in his post-Rusty band, Restless, circa 1974.

After moving to London, Declan worked as a solo act under the name Declan Costello, then formed a band called Flip City, then worked solo again as D.P. Costello, and finally became, of course, Elvis Costello.

Allan continued to work solo and later played in Liverpool-based bands called Restless and Severed Head. In the mid-'80s, he toured the American South for several years as a solo covers acts. After that, he returned to England and worked in a duo for about eight years. His career has included a stint as a ship's musician for Princess Cruises, which took him all over the world. He is currently living in Austin, TX, working as a solo act and in the duo Allan and LaDonna.

Allan lost touch with Declan, now Elvis, after Allan moved from Liverpool to the US, but they reconnected while Elvis was working on his memoir, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink. Allan still had the notes he kept while in Rusty, which provided Elvis with a wealth of information for his book. Rusty reunited to play one last gig for the Austin stop of Elvis's book tour, on October 20, 2015.

Performances with set lists or memorabilia

23 known appearances with Rusty.

date city country venue event / tour with
1972-01-21 Liverpool England Lamplight Folk Club Rusty
1972-02-04 Liverpool England Alexandra Hall Rusty
1972-02-24 Liverpool England Why Not? Rusty
1972-03-03 Liverpool England Lamplight Folk Club Rusty
1972-04-28 Liverpool England Quarry Bank School Rusty
1972-05-05 Liverpool England St George's Hall Rusty
1972-07-14 London England Half Moon Rusty
1972-07-15 London England The Troubadour (London) Rusty
1972-07-17 Liverpool England Woodchurch Community Centre Rusty
1972-07-18 Liverpool England Temple Bar Rusty
1972-09-30 Liverpool England Lynwood Hall Rusty
1972-10-02 Widnes England Grosvenor Hotel Rusty
1972-10-26 Liverpool England University of Liverpool Rusty
1972-10-28 Liverpool England Mary Help of Christians Girls School Rusty
1972-11-30 Liverpool England Why Not? Rusty
1972-12-01 Widnes England Crow's Nest Rusty
1972-12-04 Liverpool England Mansion House Rusty
1972-12-06 Liverpool England Octopus Club, RAF Club Rusty
1972-12-15 Widnes England College Hall, Riverside College Rusty
1973-02-09 Widnes England Crow's Nest Rusty
1973-06-24 (early) Coventry England University of Warwick Rusty
1973-06-24 (late) Coventry England University of Warwick Rusty
2015-10-20 Austin, TX US BookPeople Rusty

Repertoire

Originals

Title Songwriter(s) Times preformed First performed Last performed Description/Notes
Are You Afraid Of Your Children Elvis Costello 0 - - Recorded as a home demo by Rusty in November 1972.
Christmas 1253 unknown (Allan Mayes, Elvis Costello, or both) 2 1972-10-26 Liverpool 1972-11-30 Liverpool -
Daybreaks Elvis Costello 1 1972-04-28 Liverpool 1972-04-28 Liverpool -
Dull Echos Elvis Costello 1 1972-04-28 Liverpool 1972-04-28 Liverpool -
For Miles I See Elvis Costello 2 1972-02-24 Liverpool 1972-04-28 Liverpool Allan Mayes remembers this as sounding like a David Crosby song.
Goodbye Florence Elvis Costello 1 1972-04-28 Liverpool 1972-04-28 Liverpool -
Hemlock Tree Allan Mayes, Alan Brown 11 1972-01-21 Liverpool 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) Recorded as a home demo by Rusty in November 1972.
I'm the Prophet Allan Mayes 1 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) Likely written by Allan after EC moved back to London.
Innocence And Incense unknown 1 1972-01-21 Liverpool 1972-01-21 Liverpool Likely a Rusty song from before EC joined the band.
I've Been Here Before Allan Mayes (unconfirmed) 1 1972-01-21 Liverpool 1972-01-21 Liverpool Likely a Rusty song from before EC joined the band. Or it might be a cover with a Google-proof title. Allan Mayes played it at least one of his solo shows, between Rusty shows.
The Lady Holds Out Her Hand unknown 1 1972-01-21 Liverpool 1972-01-21 Liverpool Likely a Rusty song from before EC joined the band.
Love Is Like Everything Elvis Costello 1 1972-05-05 Liverpool 1972-05-05 Liverpool Recorded as a home demo by Rusty in November 1972.
Maureen And Dan Elvis Costello, Allan Mayes 1 1972-11-30 Liverpool 1972-11-30 Liverpool Very early version of Ghost Train. Rusty also performed a version called "The Show Must Go On". Allan Mayes recorded a version called Maureen And Sam on his album Stumbling In The Aisle in 1986.
Separate Ways Allan Mayes 7 1972-01-21 Liverpool 1972-01-21 Liverpool Recorded as a home demo by Rusty in November 1972.
She's Almost Human Allan Mayes 1 1972-01-21 Liverpool 1972-01-21 Liverpool Likely a Rusty song from before EC joined the band.
Silver Minute Elvis Costello (unconfirmed) 2 1972-07-17 Liverpool 1972-07-18 Liverpool Recorded as a home demo by Rusty in November 1972.
Sleeper At The Wheel Elvis Costello 5 1972-11-30 Liverpool 1973-06-24 Coventry (early) -
Stuntman Allan Mayes (unconfirmed) 4 1972-07-18 Liverpool 1973-02-09 Widnes -
Sweet Convincer Elvis Costello 2 1972-04-28 Liverpool 1972-05-05 Liverpool -
Two Day Rain Elvis Costello 4 1972-10-02 Widnes 1973-02-09 Widnes Also transcribed as "Two Days Rain".
Warm House Elvis Costello 14 1972-01-21 Liverpool 2015-10-20 Austin Recorded as a home demo by Rusty in November 1972. This was Rusty's most crowd-pleasing original song. EC and Allan played it when they reunited for EC's book tour event in Austin, TX, Allan's home.
Wisdom In The Basement Alan Brown (unconfirmed) 6 1972-01-21 Liverpool 1972-05-05 Liverpool Only known to have been played at shows where Alan Brown played.
Wouldn't You Agree Allan Mayes 1 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) Likely written by Allan after EC moved back to London.

Covers

Title Songwriter(s) Times preformed First performed Last performed Influential recording(s)/Notes
Bless The Weather John Martyn 2 1972-03-03 Liverpool 1972-03-03 Liverpool John Martyn, Bless the Weather (album), released November 1971.
Cecilia Paul Simon 3 1972-10-02 Widnes 1973-02-09 Widnes Simon & Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water album, released January 1970. Single, released April 1970, was an international hit but failed to chart in the UK.
Cotton Fields Huddie Ledbetter (Lead Belly) 2 1973-02-09 Widnes 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) Lead Belly, recorded 1940. Covered many times. Allan seems to refer to this song as a Neil Young song in his interview with MusicCityMike.net, so perhaps he had heard Young play it live. Other covers that may have influenced Rusty include: Creedence Clearwater Revival, Willy and the Poor Boys, released November 1969; and Beach Boys, 20/20, released February 1969.
Country Girl Nick Lowe 2 1972-10-02 Widnes 1973-06-24 Coventry (early) Brinsley Schwarz, Despite It All, released November 1970. Allan Mayes's notes confirm that this is the Brinsley Schwarz song, not the Neil Young song of the same name.
Dance, Dance, Dance Neil Young 6 1972-01-21 Liverpool 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) Crazy Horse, Crazy Horse, released February 1971.
Dead Skunk Loudon Wainwright III 1 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) Loudon Wainwright III, Album III. Single released November 1972. Was a novelty hit in the US, Canada, and Australia, but appears to have made no commercial impact in the UK.
Domino Van Morrison 1 2015-10-20 Austin 2015-10-20 Austin Van Morrison, His Band and the Street Choir, released November 15, 1970. This songs does not appear in available 1972/73 set lists, but EC recalled it as one of Rusty's regular numbers in Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink. EC and Allan played it when they reunited for EC's book tour event in Austin, TX, Allan's home.
Don't Lose Your Grip On Love Nick Lowe 1 1972-10-26 Liverpool 1972-10-26 Liverpool Brinsley Schwarz, Nervous on the Road (album), released September 1972.
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere Neil Young 1 1973-02-09 Widnes 1973-02-09 Widnes Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (album), released May 1969.
Fog On The Tyne Alan Hull 3 1972-01-21 Liverpool 1972-10-02 Widnes Lindisfarne, Fog On The Tyne (album), released October 1971.
Gasoline Alley Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood 1 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) Rod Stewart, Gasoline Alley (album). June 1971.
Happy Together Garry Bonner, Alan Gordon 2 1973-02-09 Widnes 1973-06-24 Coventry (early) The Turtles, single released February 14, 1967. Reached #12 on the UK singles charts.
I'm Ahead If I Can Quit While I'm Behind Jim Ford 2 1973-02-09 Widnes 1973-06-24 Coventry (early) Brinsley Schwarz, Greasy Truckers Party (live compilation album), released April 28, 1972.
I've Been Working Van Morrison 6 1972-01-21 Liverpool 1972-07-18 Liverpool Van Morrison, His Band and the Street Choir, released November 15, 1970.
Johnny B. Goode Chuck Berry 2 1972-07-18 Liverpool 1972-12-01 Widnes Chuck Berry, single released March 1958. Many covers.
Ju Ju Man Jim Ford, Lolly Vegas 3 1972-12-01 Widnes 1973-06-24 Coventry (early) Brinsley Schwarz, Silver Pistol, released February 1972.
Just My Way Of Saying Thank You Nick Lowe 2 1973-02-09 Widnes 1973-06-24 Coventry (early) Brinsley Schwarz, Greasy Truckers Party (live compilation album), released April 28, 1972.
Lady Eleanor Alan Hull 2 1972-07-18 Liverpool 1973-02-09 Widnes Lindisfarne, Nicely Out of Tune, released November 1969.
Last Time I Was Fooled Nick Lowe 1 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) Brinsley Schwarz, Silver Pistol, released February 1972.
Mighty Quinn Bob Dylan 5 1972-01-21 Liverpool 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) Manfred Mann, single released January 12, 1968.
Nervous On The Road Nick Lowe 3 1972-12-01 Widnes 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) Brinsley Schwarz, Nervous on the Road (album), released September 1972.
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down Robbie Robertson 1 1972-01-21 Liverpool 1972-01-21 Liverpool The Band, single released September 1969, b-side of "Up On Cripple Creek". Joan Baez, single released August 1971; international hit, including top 10 in the UK.
Nightingale Nick Lowe 1 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) Brinsley Schwarz, Silver Pistol, released February 1972.
Old Kentucky Home Randy Newman 6 1972-05-05 Liverpool 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) Randy Newman, 12 Songs, released April 1970. Allan Mayes's notes confirm this is the Randy Newman song, not the well-known Stephen Foster song with a similar name.
Old Man Neil Young 1 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) Neil Young, single released April 1972. Also on Harvest, released February 1972.
Raider Judy Henske & Jerry Yester 5 1972-10-26 Liverpool 1973-06-24 Coventry (early) Judy Henske & Jerry Yester, Farewell Aldebaran, released 1969.
Rock and Roll unknown, see notes. 1 1972-12-06 Liverpool 1972-12-06 Liverpool This might be Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Parts 1 and 2", which spent most of the summer of 1972 in the top 10 of the UK singles chart. It might be the Brinsley Schwarz song "Rock and Roll Woman", from their Brinsley Schwarz album, released April 1970. Or it might be the Buffalo Springfeild song called "Rock and Roll Woman", from their Buffalo Springfeild Again album released November 1967. Apparently, the song was not a regular part of Rusty's set, as Allan Mayes's notes for this gig read "Entire repertoire + Rock and Roll."
Stealin' traditional 1 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) Clover, Clover album, released 1970. Grateful Dead, Historic Dead, released 1971.
Tell Me Why Neil Young 4 1972-10-26 Liverpool 1973-06-24 Coventry (early) Neil Young, After the Gold Rush, released September 1970.
Unknown Number Nick Lowe 5 1972-10-02 Widnes 1973-06-24 Coventry (late) Brinsley Schwarz, Silver Pistol, released February 1972.
Up On Cripple Creek Robbie Robertson 2 1973-02-09 Widnes 1973-06-24 Coventry (early) The Band, single released September 1969, a-side of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.
Willie And The Hand Jive Johnny Otis 2 1972-12-01 Widnes 1973-06-24 Coventry (early) Johnny Otis, single released 1958. Many covers.
Wooden Ships David Crosby, Paul Kantner, Stephen Stills 7 1972-04-28 Liverpool 1973-06-24 Coventry (early) Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby, Stills & Nash album, released May 1969. One of Rusty's best-received covers, due to EC and Allan's ability to harmonize.
You Ain't Goin' Nowhere Bob Dylan 4 1972-07-18 Liverpool 1973-06-24 Coventry (early) The Byrds, single released April 2, 1968; was minor hit in the UK (reached #45 on the pop chart). Also on The Byrds Sweetheart of the Rodeo album, released August 30, 1968.
Your Eyes Are Looking Down Malcolm Morley 2 1972-12-01 Widnes 1973-06-24 Coventry (early) Help Yourself, Help Yourself, released 1971.

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