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at "Blues Garage, Hannover"

13 April 2013
Concert Photos Review  /  After Concert Photos






























Cactus Concert April 13, 2013 
at Henry’s Blues Garage, Hannover, Germany

Review by Dave Willey

Cactus was formed by Carmine Appice (drums) and Tim Bogert, (bass) both being alumni’s of the famous band Vanilla Fudge and the bands big hits, “You Keep Me Hanging On” (Dianna Ross and the Supreme’s) and the follow up song called, “Shotgun” a hit for Jr. Walker and His All Stars. Tim and Carmine left Da-Fudge to start a brand new super group. Their intention was incorporate Rod Stewart on vocals, Jeff Beck on guitar, Carmine Appice on drums and Tim Bogert on bass guitar. Just one small problem in the best laid plans – Rod Stewart backed out at the last minute and joined Ronnie Wood in “Faces”, and then Jeff Beck was in a car accident with broken bones that put him out of commission for an indefinite amount of time (over one year). This left our two heroes out in the lurch for new talent and a new game plan. Enter guitarist Jim McCarty who was with Mitch Ryder’s Detroit Wheels and with the Buddy Miles Express. Now for a vocalist, enter Rusty Day (Russell Edward Davidson) who appeared in concert and on one record with Ted Nugent and The Amboy Dukes, and soon Rusty was kicked out of Nugent’s band for his drug usage. Thus Cactus was born and got the reputation as “The American Led Zeppelin” –  that the Atlantic / Atco record company promoted them as!

 Their first album, the self-titled “Cactus” was released in 1970 followed in 1971 by  “One Way Or Another”  and the best under-ground hit called, “Hometown Bust” is the song that not only caught my attention, but made me a life long, and devoted fan of theirs.

Their third album was called “Restrictions” 1971, with the song called “Tokin-Choke-In” being the worst song I’ve ever heard. Then the original band split up, and once again Carmine and Timmy looked for replacements. This time three qualified musicians, were called into service for the fourth Cactus release called, “Ot `n´ Sweaty. One half - live album (from a festival) and the other side studio tracks 1972. Surprisingly, it’s  a very good album, and it still holds up well today. It featured the following musicians, Duane Hitchings on keyboards, Peter French on vocals (Ex-Leaf-Hound and Atomic Rooster) and Werner Fritzschings on guitar. This was as far as I followed Cactus. Jim McCarty left the band in 1971, followed soon there after by the firing of Rusty Day. Cactus the band, died a very premature / sad death, 1970 - 1972. Drugs, Egos, Band Politics and Crazy Outrageous Times  is what killed the original Cactus. A fantastic band, both then and now.

 One official album was released with Jeff Beck, Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice called BBA 1973 – with another Japan only album release called “BBA Live In Japan” – another unreleased BBA recording from The Rainbow Theatre in London on January 26, 1974. Jim McCarty went on to do albums with “The Rockets” and “Mystery Train”.

 On March 6, 1982 Rusty Day was gunned down by machinegun fire, in a drug deal gone terribly wrong, his twelve year old son was with him at the time, he also was murdered.


Back to this concert at hand 2013 – I had the chance to talk with Jim McCarty for a little bit.

I asked him about opening for Ten Years After in  early 1970 – 1971, his reply was “we were kicked off that tour” why I asked, because you were better than Ten Years After? “No, our singer (Rusty Day) kept inciting people to riot, and he caused audience riots” to which I said, well did he? Jim broke out with a mischievous grin, then a smile and then a little chuckle and then he just laughed quietly….as he was looking back and remembering Rusty’s antics on stage. 


Jimmy Kunes – Vocals and former front-man for Savoy Brown with Kim Simmons.

Carmine Appice - Drums 

Jim McCarty – Guitar

Pete Bremy took over for Tim Bogert in Vanilly Fudge and Cactus

Randy Pratt on harmonica - joined the band in New York City and Sweden



Cactus In Concert:

This my friends was the perfect concert. No opening band to cause distraction. Just unadulterated raw Cactus Music, played by two original members, out of the four, and kicking ass as they did back in 1970 – 1971…thanks to Jim McCarty and Carmine Appice (Pronounced A – Piece). I personally expected a damn good concert, but they went over the top of anyone’s expectations. One of those moments when you think to yourself, god-damn-it I wish everyone I know was here to witness this! Great entertainers, seasoned professional musicians and really into pleasing their audience. They left no person unmoved, uninvolved or unaffected – everyone was bombarded with McCarty’s super-sonic-interstellar sounds and thunderous Carmine pounding on the drum kit. The singer was the official cheer-leader and made sure we that made the band feel welcomed and very appreciated throughout the evening.   


Welcome Cactus To The Stage:

The band came onstage right on time, starting with Jim McCarty. Jim is a “tall drink of water” as we’d say back home, he looks like a living Abraham Lincoln. To my five foot seven inches, he’s at least six foot six (and a half) but looking like an eight foot baby redwood tree. Carmine is about my height in comparison, more eye to eye. The singer is a short little runt, looking and acting like the late Steve Marriott with the singer for Robin Trower’s  Band (Davy Pattison) thrown in just for good measure. No Timmy Bogert – (Retired) with his replacement supporting a six string bass guitar.


Jimmy McCarty – Legend:

I have to smile, thinking about McCarty lumbering across the stage, looking for all intents and purposes like they just shook him awake two minutes ago. Looking half shy and half in a daze, here he was in full living colour - finally, the man I always wanted to see play live in concert and meet in person after the show. Jimmy the person is the muted king of the guitar.

He doesn’t dance around, or play the guitar with his teeth, or behind his back….he’s not an entertainer, performer or spectacle – to cop a famous line from the Talking Heads – this ain’t ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, and this ain’t no fooling around – this ain’t the mud-club or CBGB’s I ain’t got time for that now! That’s the Jimmy McCarty I saw in front of me.

In short, and putting words in Jimmy’s mouth – “you wanna rock - roll & boogie, I’m here, but if you’re gonna fuck around, jerk me off and waste my fucking time, I’m gone”.

Make no mistake about it, my quote, not his, but it fits with his body language….and non verbal jesters I witnessed on stage. The man and his musical weapon of choice – that pitch Black Gibson Guitar, in the trained hands of a Detroit Maniac Demolition Enforcer – making you a believer!  Kiss echoed the phrase – Detroit Rock City – and here’s the living proof of that. I’ve read reviews about Jim McCarty doing my research before writing this review.

It’s always the same worthless shit that I’m so tired of….he’s in the same category as Hendrix, Clapton and Peter Green – Jim McCarty is underrated, unappreciated, ignored by music critics and media alike…Blah-Blah-Blah. I’ve listened to him play with Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, unknowingly, that he was the guitarist behind all that great music.

I was ignorant of him, his work and even his name, until 1971 and Cactus, “One Way Or Another” touched me unlike any other – only Alvin Lee and Ten Years After came close, and were their equal, in many areas. In degree of longevity, Ten Years After wins hands down. But Cactus was a roman-candle in rock, and their residue influenced everyone, as to how the real spirit of rock and roll should be, shall be, and was originally intended to be.  


Cactus – Self Titled and One Way Or Another - Plus Five:

If you removed the song “My Lady From The South Of Detroit” from their first album, and play their first and second albums back to back, without interruption, you’d have the most perfect “Rock `N´ Roll  Blues Speed Boogie” double album ever recorded in the history of recording – add in five songs from their “Restrictions” album and that’s Cactus.


In The Recording Studio:

Cactus did something that many bands tried to do, but found unattainable….including Ten Years After and Canned Heat among so many others. To record / capture the atmosphere of a live concert performance in the recording studio, and etch it into vinyl without loosing the power, passion or energy along the way.  Cactus accomplished this feat as if by a miracle or some holy intervention. “One Way Or Another” captured their stage act in it’s raw form. Pure, high energy excitement. “Hyper-Speed-Boogie”. “Black music roots, blue-eyed-soul”. Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Bo-Diddly, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran…..influenced -  real black music. If you put this album on, and turn up the volume to a fraction less than window rattling decibels, you’ll find yourself at a Classic Cactus Concert without any ear-bleeding or turbine-blasting-after-burner-after-effects….you’ll enjoy the experience without suffering for it. Imagine That! 


The Concert At Hand:

The entire band looked tired. Carmine got into position, the singer Jimmy Kunes was getting himself ready to rock, Jimmy held his back to the audience as he plugged in his guitar. Carmine was having minor technical problems with the sound, which he didn’t want or expect since the sound check, but he took it all in stride, but continued to have minor problems in keeping his drum kit together. The bass player really had no input or complaint, he was all on his own or so it seemed. Without Tim Bogert, that bass rumble was missing…the one that McCarty hated all along, no love loss between Jim and Tim.


The Set List:

Long Tall Sally – Let Me Swim – One Way Or Another – Brother Bill – You Can’t Judge A Book – Sea of Electric Blue – New Song – Evil (including Carmine drum solo) – Big Mama Boogie Parts One and Two – Parchman Farm – New Song – Rock and Roll Children  - Blues For Mr. Day.


Reeling In The Past:

What Cactus lacked in the past, as far as song writing skills, (which I saw no problems with) they made up for in stage persona, energy and passion. Legend has it that they blew Jimi Hendrix and The Who right off the stage. I have no problem believing that, as  Cactus was referred to as, “the greatest rock band that never was”. The way people talk about them, they were somewhere between The Monkeys – Spinal Tap and The Bay City Rollers!

I don’t even consider that an insult to this great band, because in fact, Cactus was everything to everyone, now what other band could provide all that. I wouldn’t be at all surprised, if Mick Jagger had them in mind when he penned the song, “Start Me Up” I’ll never stop, never stop, never stop!  That’s the Cactus band that I know first hand. 


Cactus Then And Now:

Even without Timmy and Rusty, Jimmy and Carmine represented Cactus as we knew them.

The missing components were indeed missed, never forgotten and still here in the music and in spirit. Cactus today is just a continuation of what it’s always been. There’s nothing lacking, or missing in the engine room. The rhythm section is still intact, the vocals are different, but the energy and passion are still there in Mr. Kuntz. Jimmy McCarty, is better than ever, nothing’s changed, Jim is Jim….and you can still hear the influence Hendrix had on him, and why the hell not, after all they played together, and they both learned from each other.

Jimi checked out of space-station Earth – and Jimmy McCarty just took Jimi Hendrix’s torch and moved it on down the road – a-piece – oh ya that’s Carmine Appice to you! Thank You Carmine….we had a great time Saturday night, if you back-tracked this way from Berlin, we would have attended another Cactus show. We pray you return again this year for sure.


Jimmy McCarty Revisited:

Jimmy was the show. That’s a fact jack. The man we waited to see for so long. A living legend. Humble, Shy and a Gentleman with a royal sense of humour.

He likes to laugh when not being reserved. He really got a kick out of the man standing next to me at the merchandise table, who had every “Rockets” record ever made, Jim loved it, and pointing out to Carmine the record that was close to impossible to find now – but this fan had it right here to be autographed. Jimmy stood proud and man was he happy as a clam in mud.

I have no idea if Jim has been to Germany in the past, but I’m positive that he’d love to make a return visit as soon as possible. Henry’s Blues Garage is the prominent place in which to present legendary bands like this to old and new fans alike. People came from northern Germany and others from Romania – to which I told the young fan from Romania, this album I have here is older than you are, how the hell do you know about  this now obscure band?

“I found them on the internet” he informed me, “I search around for great old time bands, and I discovered them”.  Wrong kid I said, I discovered them back in 1971 – you’re just rediscovering them! We both laughed…..I introduced myself a few minutes before this – as he was holding up a crumpled up set list that he acquired off the stage – I walked up, grabbed him by his back and shoulder and shouted at him , HEY – WHERE DID YOU STEAL THIS!

Shocked him for a moment, then quickly realized that I was only kidding him. We talked for quite awhile, and he spoke excellent English, and it was a wonderful conversation indeed! Lordy Lordy, I felt like the old fart that I’m turning to be….  It’s young men like this that are filling in my old rock and roll shoes and love for basic blues music – he told me he was 24 years old. You’ve got my blessing kid, give it hell and do it justice is all I ask !!! 


In Conclusion:

Cactus and Ten Years After seem to have a lot in common. The underdogs, good and bad reviews, never cared about the Billboard top 200, and yet by reputation, live shows, records released and their powerful, unmistakeable, influence upon future generations – their success is truly measured, where it really counts. Finally being able to see them perform live is a revelation and a dream come true. The audience was expecting a good show, what they got will be forever attached to their memory banks as the most superior rock concert they have ever been a part of – lasting the rest of their lives.

What follows, is what others have to say about Cactus.

 “George Harrison carried our albums around with him”. Says Carmine Appice

 “Black Sabbath and Cactus did shows together, we were the same kind of band. Blue Cheer’s been doing that kind of music since the 1960’s”.

 “Ronnie Leejack played rhythm guitar on the “Restrictions” album and in concert as heard on bootleg albums”. 


“Cactus influenced – Ted Nugent – Van Halen – Kings X – Deep Purple – David Coverdale

Billy Sheehan and Mr Big – Steve Morse – Kid Rock…..for example, Van Halen’s song “Hot For Teacher” comes from Cactus’s “Parchman Farm”. The riff at the opening of Van Halen’s song “Eruption” is a direct life from Cactus’s song “Swim”. 

Cactus Inspired – Van Halen – Anvil – The Black Crows – The Black Keys – Sammy Hagar - Ronnie Montrose

 At their short peak - Cactus opened shows for the following: Ten Years After, Alice Cooper


“During Van Halens club days, it wasn’t uncommon for them to fill a generous portion of their sets with Cactus songs. David Lee Roth would play “Evil” from Cactus on his now defunct radio show. Jimi Hendrix was a fan of the original Cactus Band”. 

 “Cactus 34 years later and sounding like they picked up playing after perhaps a month’s break rather than three decades”.


“Jim McCarty is my favourite guitarist”.  Says Ted Nugent


“Cactus was the epitome of the American Blues – Rock Band that kicked serious butt”.

  Eddie Kramer  


“Cactus never made a huge impression in the charts at the time, their debut “Cactus” album being the highest charter at number 54 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart, but their influence reached far beyond their sales figures”.


“The song Get Out Of Denver” by Bob Seeger. All the guitar work was done by Jim McCarty 1974” 


“Born James William McCarty June 1, 1945….68 years old”.



“When playing the blues, McCarty relies on vintage Fender Amplifiers. Such as a recently reconditioned 1965 Pro Reverb. “I use a Marshall when performing live with Cactus”.

“But you can’t beat old Fenders for the blues”. 


“Jim McCarty played on albums by Bob Seeger and Bob “Catfish” Hodge. He worked for ten years with the Detroit Rockers Rocket, and also fronted his current band called Mystery Train. They once backed “Willie D. Warren” in the studio”. 


“The majority of the overdubbed solos were done with my 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard, and I used a 1956 Les Paul Gold Top with P-90 for the slide stuff”.  Says, Jim McCarty


“The pedals used on the recording included a Menatone Red Snapper Overdrive, and the McCarty staples, a Keeley – Modded Tube Screamer and a Tube Works Tube Driver.

Pratt also supplied a bevy of vintage pedals, including an ultra-rare, original Ampeg

Scrambler as less than 2,000 were ever made back in 1969, that McCarty used to craft his distinctive tones back in the 1970’s. Says Jim, “You’ve got to use the Scrambler to get the Cactus sound, I was about the only one using it at the time”. 



“Cactus was an experiment that never really worked out, there were some interesting moments along with a lot of banging heads together, but the band developed a cult following after it broke up”. Says Jim McCarty


Cactus Five:

“Is a record album that’s surprisingly reminiscent of the 1970’s era – recordings. McCarty’s fat and fiery Les Paul tones still abound. Jim says, “In certain ways, I like this cd better than the old stuff. Obviously, it doesn’t have quite the edge as when we were 25, but to me, these are better songs, and the playing is much more controlled”. “I used my 1954 Gibson Les Paul Junior, and the other gear was provided by studio owner Randy Pratt. Jim says, “The Junior had a P-90 with a sound as thick as a brick, and we plugged into various amps, including a Matchless Combo, a purple Soldano head, into a 50 watt Marshall Cab, and an old Hiwatt that was so beat up, it rattled”. 


The Cactus Break-Up:

“A big part of the reason the band fell apart was that Jimmy wanted a traditional sort of rhythm section, with sparse, orthodox bass technique and Bogert isn’t into that at all.

He wants to play as much lead as Jimmy does. Last night my wife noticed this and said, Bogert was being “Obnoxious” with his bass playing, because he was “all up in your face with it”. I told her, I like bands like that. I like bass players who view their instruments as not just a bass, but as a bass guitar, if you know what I mean”. 


“It’s a funny thing. Fleetwood Mac wrote one of the best show stoppers for their finale called “Rattle Snake Shake”. Ten Years After then came up with “I’m Going Home” in order    counter Fleetwood Mac. Then Cactus came up with a hyper-speed version of

“Parchman Farm” to counteract Ten Years After’s speed boogie rocker”. 


“Who opened for Vanilla Fudge in early 1968? Led Zeppelin”. 


Cactus got arrested for smoking dope on a plane and were photographed in hand-cuffs at the Cleveland Airport in August of 1971. This prompted the song, “Mean Night In Cleveland”.

On their Restrictions Album”.  (More of this story to follow).


“Cactus, bluesy brand of speed boogie. Giving listeners a high energy adrenaline rush is what these guys were all about. It’s a shame the band so rarely remembered these days.

“Lady From South Of Detroit” from their very first album, was a great proto-power-ballad”. 


“It’s true that Rusty Day’s rough-can-peel-paint-voice may grate at times over the course of listening to - too many Cactus albums in a row, but boy could these guys play! Carmine Appice influenced John Bonham, this in terms of pure power. Jim McCarty is the best guitarist in Detroit, after Eddie Hazel. As Jim has his own distinct style and sound”. 


“I’m the only guy in Rock and Roll that plays that hollow body jazz guitar and it’s because in 1960 I saw Jimmy McCarty creating those big fat full chords like I do on “Stranglehold” I learned that from Jimmy McCarty. Remember the name Jim McCarty, he’s as important as Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Les Paul. Jim McCarty is God on Guitar”. Guitar maker

Paul Reed Smith is among McCarty’s admirers”. 


Peter French vocals – Leaf-Hound and Atomic Rooster  - He’s alive and well and living in SW – London – he’s still performing with Leaf-Hound.


Duane Hitchings – Keyboards


The Rusty Day Story:

Rusty Day – Born Russell Edward Davidson


Werner Fritzschings – Guitar


Michael Valentino – Nephew of Rusty Day


“The first time I saw Vanilla Fudge, was at a club in the Bronx called the Château Alexander and I remember how impressed I was with the sound and musicianship” !  


“According to Tim Bogert, he’s simply not up to the rigors of the road any more”. 


“I can’t listen to a single vintage Cactus song without a chill going up my spine every time I hear Time playing. Tim you’re amazing, simply amazing”. 


“My first concert was Vanilla Fudge in Wichita, Kansas. I was in the ninth grade. You’re playing at the Cotillion, 1967 my sister and I attended the 3:00 PM show. Later on, I’m hooked on Beck, Bogert and Appice”. Flash forward, Cactus is coming to Wichita, Kansas, and are opening for Alice Cooper”. 


“The first gig that I saw you play, was in New York when Dale Peters, the bass player for the James Gang fell over drunk and Tim Bogert had to finish the night with Joe Walsh”. 


“Hi Tim, saw you in Memphis, in 1971 around the fourth of July at the Overton Park Shell opening the show for Deep Purple. You were walking around the place and no one noticed but me. You and Carmine were way ahead of your time and I love to listen the old stuff you guys did back in the day”.  


Cactus inspired – The Black Keys – The Black Crows – Anvil – Van Halen – Montrose 


“The Atlantic / Atco Record Company Hyped Cactus as the “American Led Zeppelin”.

Cactus opened for The Who, Deep Purple and the Faces. Cactus was the first band I ever saw. In 1970 when I was eleven, they played for free at a summer camp I was attending on Long Island. One day we were sitting in our cabins, when all of a sudden, the earth literally began to shake. Our counsellors explained that the band Vanilla Fudge, who were now calling themselves Cactus – had just purchased $7,000 worth of new sound equipment, and I counted 48 speaker cabinets and they needed a place to test it out, hence the free heavy metal concert for the kiddies”.



Tour Dates Cactus:

May 16, 1970 – Temple University Stadium

June 26, 1970 -

June 27, 1970 – Boston Garden

June 13, 1970 – Baltimore Civic Centre

July 4, 1970 – Atlanta Pop Festival – Georgia Speedway

Friday September 4, 1970 -

October 31, 1970 – Fillmore East New York City



August 31, 2013 – At B.B. Kings 



“Rusty Day was on AC/DC’s short list of contenders to replace the late great Bon Scott, but they couldn’t find him because he had left the music business behind for the world of drug dealing. Sadly, his dangerous life style got him and his 10 year old son machine-gunned to death, on March 6, 1982”.


“Rusty Day was a genuine nut-case and Atlanta / Atco Records forced the band to fire him in late 1971, as they blamed the bands failure to break big squarely on him. Jim McCarty also quite because he and Tim Bogert hated each other. While McCarty was a great musician, he wasn’t big on the spotlight, so he went back to Detroit and just played locally with the,

Rockets and Mystery Train”. 


“I saw Cactus in Buffalo, N.Y. many years ago, when at least two of the members of the band were drunk on stage”. 


“I’ll never work with Tim Bogert ever again”. – Jim McCarty


“The Rockets were together for ten years, that band is responsible for what I am today, broke and schizophrenic”. – Jim McCarty 


“With Cactus I used a 1959 Cherry Sunburst Les Paul, and that was stolen along with a 1954 Stratocaster is probably the greatest single-sounding guitar I ever owned, they also took the Gibson Hummingbird Acoustic Guitar that belonged to Jimi Hendrix, and it was given to me after he died. This all happened to me right after I returned to Detroit and put the Rockets together, that was my welcome home”.  The Rockets were Jimmy McCarty – Johnny Bee

Dave Gilbert (we tried Mitch Rider and Jerry Lacroix from Edgar Winters White Trash, but neither of them were right for what we were doing).


“Jimmy McCarty’s one of my best friends, I jam with him a couple of times a month, and shoot pool when we can, he’s very good at it, it’s the sign of a mis-spent youth! His favourite axe currently is his Black Les Paul Custom, loaded with stock 490R and 498T Himbuckers,

with the bridge reading 13K”. 


“I was at the Fillmore West Auditorium the night Cactus warmed up the audience for Alvin Lee and Ten Years After. I’m an Alvin Lee fan, so I got to the auditorium early and got right in the front. At that time, I didn’t know who Cactus was. Well, Cactus didn’t just warm up the audience, they fried the audience, deep fried. I became a huge fan of Cactus. I started wearing old Levi’s and long sleeved Henley T-Shirts, like Jim McCarty. I got their albums, and learned to play all of their songs. I would listen to a riff and then carefully lift the stylus off the vinyl record and try to copy it. Jim McCarty rocked my world that night as much as many of the greatest guitar players that came to the Fillmore West, and I used to go there every weekend. I’m fortunate to have seen many of the great guitarist in that intimate venue.

By the way, after Cactus finished their set, Ten Years After sounded like a transistor radio”. 


“Cactus jammed with Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and the guys from Traffic”. – Carmine


“We all had gold records, we all went out on the road, we had top ten records. We were all side by side on the charts. We all opened for each other, closed for each other. We had equal billing, co-heading bills. We did all that stuff. It was part of the scene that doesn’t happen a lot today. Pat Travers and I went up and did “Roadhouse Blues” with the Doors, the audience went crazy”. Said Carmine


“Jimi Hendrix loved to play. He was one of those guys who continuously would play. When The Scene would close, everybody would pile over to The Record Plant and play until 7 or 8 in the morning. He loved to Jam, so he was always doing that. I said to Jimi, I was really knocked out by your new song “Crosstown Traffic” and “House Burning Down” on Electric Lady Land. But the one that really knocked me out was “1983 – A Merman I Should Turn To Be”. I told him, you really captured the feel of the water and the ocean. And on a House Burning Down,” all of a sudden the guitar is like fire”. And Jimi said, that he kind of saw sound as colours, something to that effect, is what he told me. If he had a song with a certain theme like that, he would approach the guitar in terms of the colours of that particular theme.

He was one of those guys you have once in awhile who, for some strange reason, they don’t seem to stick around that long. These are guys who aren’t just really good at what they do, but they come in and re-invent the rules of the game. Then they’re gone. Whether it’s Robert Johnson, John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin or Jim Morrison. To me it’s the same spirit, just different bodies is all. These are guys who are innovators, and completely establish new boundaries from what it is that everybody else has been doing. Then they’re gone.

A good portion of them, they don’t stick around that long”.  – Jim McCarty


Cactus had a reputation as a hard rocking partying band, is there any truth to that rumour?

“We partied hard, yeah, The wildest time though? My mind is racing about fifty experiences, and forty of them are illegal now, and the other ten are immoral. So I’m not sure at my age, I want to go there. Carmine will answer that question in a heartbeat. He revels in that. I’ll tell you privately over a beer some night”.  Said Timmy Bogert


“Oh God. Well I don’t drink anymore or do anything these days. But, yeah we did our share of partying. Back in those days, there was a lot of drug taking going on. Psychedelics, and I don’t recall Timmy or Carmine really being into the psychedelics. The liked to smoke pot I think. So that left me and Rusty to sample all the pills and powders. I don’t think we did anymore than anybody else. I don’t know The band had some sort of reputation, but I don’t think we were any more nuts than the majority of bands who were out on the road”. 

Said, Jim McCarty


“We were more of a party band. We didn’t spike the back-stage stuff, it was always spiked for us. We never got into the heavier stuff like taking downers and drinking a lot. We were into smoking pot, wine drinking and some Quaaludes type of thing. We did our share of peyote, acid and mescaline. Heroin, Quaaludes, Alcohol is what brought Joplin, Hendrix, Morrison, and Bolin down to dead.


Rusty Day, you either loved his voice or you hated it, there was no in between. We sold a fair amount of records, but we had to tour to do it. On stage, we would come out so energetic that we would leave the audience wasted / exhausted and blow the headlining act off the stage.

By the time they came on the audience had nothing left to give, too beat to respond to anything. The audience had already peaked with our set. I guess we were our own worst enemies, says Carmine. The entertainment business is a very tricky roulette game. There’s an awful lot of luck involved, an awful amount of chance, dumb luck and an awful lot of politcs involved in this racket”. 


According to Jim McCarty, “The third Cactus album “Restrictions” was probably the most together album, and certainly the best sounding one”. 


“Rusty’s Murder Is Still Listed As An Unsolved Case – What really happened to Cactus singer and dynamic front man, Rusty Day? “I talked with a guy who lived with him back in the early 1980’s – he’s the man that came into the house and found Rusty’s body, the body of his son, and his sons friend. It really, really was a bad scene. He just made some sort of drug deal, and apparently he either had the drugs or the cash. They came back to get one or the other, because they knew it was there. They shot them up with a Thompson Machine Gun, killed them and took whatever was there. Whether it was the drugs or the cash. It was a big money thing, from what I understood”.  Carmine


“It didn’t surprise me. He was murdered because he was doing business with people who if you owe them money, you should pay them. Rusty lived by the sword, and that’s the life he led. When he was no longer in Cactus, he drifted back into what he was doing before.

That’s how he made a living. The tragedy there wasn’t really Rusty, it was that Jaco, his son, was visiting him at the time and they murdered everybody in the house. Rusty, Jaco, Jaco’s friend, and a couple of other guys that were visiting from Detroit. I still see Marcia, Rusty’s ex-girlfriend, Jaco’s mother from time to time. You can never recover from something like that. I remember when she called me when she found out her son was dead. I just saw her about a month ago, when we were played a club down river. She lives in upstate Michigan, and comes down from time to time. She was at the club and got one of the Cactus cd’s, she was tickled by it. She particularly liked the “Blues For Mr. Day” dedication”. Says, Jim McCarty…..Jaco was only 12 years old.


When Rusty was in Cactus, was there any indication that he was involved in anything like this? “Well, he was always like, when we were on the road, he was always finagling drugs and shit. He always carried guns and knives. All the lyrics he wrote, he lived by. He was one of the guys who lived by it. He  lived by….his friend getting busted, (Hometown Bust) things like that. When we were back on Long Island, if we wanted to get some pot, Rusty would always know where to score some. He was just that kind of guy. So I guess after the demise of Cactus, he just couldn’t get anything going, and he needed to make some money somehow, so he went on that side of the tracks for awhile”. Said, Carmine


Question: What’s The Story Behind Mean Night In Cleveland? The Infamous Cactus Drug Bust? Seen all around the world in the press. On their way to play a gig there!

Answer: “We got busted because one of our roadies tried  to give a joint to a stewardess, but he didn’t know that the joint he gave her was really filled with catnip, and not pot. We gave it to him as a joke, and then he offered it to her. The Stewardess then reported it to the planes Captain, then the Captain told the police, and when we landed, we were all arrested.

It was a Saturday, so the drug testing laboratories were all closed, so we ended up spending the whole night in the clink. On Monday, they found out it was only catnip and not dope.

We had the same lawyer as Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, everybody had the same attorney. He got us out of jail on Sunday by pulling some strings. Sunday we got the front page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and made ABC news nationwide. I had to call my parents, because my mother was flipping out! Says, Carmine


Question: What are your favourite memories of Rusty Day? 

Answer: “I have a lot of favourite memories of Rusty. We had a lot of good times. Always my memories of Rusty have been the same, very arrogant, a peaceful, arrogant kind of a guy, who knew how to get an audience in the palm of his hand. One funny story, is when we played in Boston, I always thought it was with Ten Years After, but a friend of mine, who was also at the show said it was Jimi Hendrix. Rusty had the audience in the palm of his hand. They would stand up, the cops were coming to tell them to sit back down and Rusty told the audience, “Fuck The Police, Don’t Listen To Them, They’re Just A Bunch Of Pigs” from the stage. We went back for an encore, and the police arrested him. We had to the encore by ourselves, without Rusty. They were taking him away. Finally, the concert promoter, who was a friend of our managers, talked to them and got them to release Rusty. But he couldn’t make the encore in time, and he was really pissed off about it. He hated that shit. He’d say, “you’re having good fun….why are the police telling you to sit down! You don’t have to listen to them, it’s a free country, fuck them pigs”. He’d say it on the stage. When you live by the sword, you die by the sword, and he definitely lived by the sword. He didn’t give a shit about anything”. Says, Carmine.


“Oh God. Rusty was crazy. He was a fucking drug dealer. He had tremendous stage presence.

He was a great front-man. I didn’t think he was the greatest singer in the world, but he had a huge storehouse of lyrics. He had a thousand songs, just from all the years playing the bard in Detroit. When we started grooving it wouldn’t take him long to come up with either a cover or an original lyric of his own. If you listen to the live Cactus album, during the encore number, that’s all pretty much off the cuff, and all improvised by Rusty. It wasn’t rehearsed, it’s just him, pulling stuff out of the air, all those lyrics. He was tremendous at that sort of thing. He was a crazy mother-fucker, but we all were”. Says, Jimmy McCarty


“Oh Geese, the things he could do with an audience, almost any given audience, on any given night. The man was amazing. He was as good of a front-man as Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones. No fooling. He was quite amazing. He got arrested several times for being that amazing. He’d get the crowd all worked up to a fever pitch, and then the police would get skittish, because Rusty was saying, “don’t let the pigs keep you down” and that type of rhetoric, and they would take it personally…DUH !  Tim Laughing! Then they would cart off his six foot two inch body right off the stage, which happened more than just once.

Rusty was quite an incredible front-man, he really was, and he could also lay down on hell of a rhythm harp”.  Says, Timmy Bogert.    


The Violent Demise of Rusty Day:

Rusty Day was known for his powerful vocals and his out of control lifestyle. He joined

Ted Nugent and The Amboy Dukes as their vocalist. This after singer John Drake was fired from the band. Rusty joined having just quite his own band called – Rusty Day and the Midnighters. He was born December 29, 1945 and died June 3, 1982 aged 36 – in Longwood Florida – Orlando area. He was murdered, according to his friend Monte “Mondo” Thomas, “It was a drug deal that went sour”. Rusty was dealing in Cocaine and owed money to

Ron Sanders, who was one of the guitar players in his band. Sanders was a madman, he was also a millionaire and a real bad coke fiend. Sanders opened fire shooting through the windows, killing Rusty Day, his son Russell “Joco” Day, Joko’s friend, and house guest

Garth McRae. This took place on March 6, 1982. Six weeks later the police surrounded Sanders house on an entirely different charge, separate from the triple murders that occurred many weeks prior. Sanders committed suicide by shooting himself and leaving the murder case open and unsolved. 


Rusty – Band called “Detroit” – The “Rockets” were W.R. Cooke – Steve Gains (Lynyrd Skynyrd) – Johnny “Bee” Badanjek (Drums)


Interview With Rusty Day – Lead singer and Front man with the Rock Band Cactus

Interview by Patti Mixon for Free Bird Magazine December 1979 Sanford, Florida

“An Interspersing Day In The Life Of A Rock Star”


On the way to Rusty Day’s house, I started thinking about the first time I had seen him. It was last summer at a little club that was accommodating more people than it was originally designed to hold. On stage there was Rusty singing, shouting, clapping, stomping his feet, and occasionally leaving the ground. He was so energetic, he had every one clapping, stomping and shouting right along with him. He changed over to a syncopated ballad or blues and still kept everyone entertained. Down the country roads, we made our way to Rusty’s house. When we arrived, Rusty came out to welcome us. Looking much like what I had expected, shoulder length brown hair with a full beard that covered his neck, and wearing a blue flannel shirt and blue jeans with a red handkerchief sticking out of his back pocket. Looking just like your local auto mechanic. Rusty with his dog “Pluto” led us inside, he kicked off his blue suede tennis shoes and told us to make ourselves comfortable. The house was very spacious.

He must really like to collect things, I thought to myself, because there were little gadgets and knick-knacks all over the room. There were also cactus plants of every description in one of the corners by a window. Rusty walked over to the stereo and put on an old blues tune, as Pluto made himself comfortable at our feet. “Ask me what this record is” he said, with a big grin on his face. OK Rusty, what record is that? “That’s the first album I was ever presented” he sat down on the edge of the couch right in front me. “It was given to me by my father, it’s Jimmy Reed’s first album. Jimmy Reed’s a great harmonica player and lyricist. He’s one of my idols”. It was really nice and relaxing just as I had found Rusty to be.


The Beginning: 

“Well, he said, settling back in his seat. “I really started playing drums around five or six years old and just started beating on things and got drums when I was nine. I was winning talent contest. I’d play the drums and sing Jerry Lee Lewis songs. So by the time I was thirteen, I was playing in bands with older guys. That was when you didn’t get home until three in the morning, he said with a smile. Rusty was working around Detroit playing and singing with his own bands, when he was offered a chance to go to California. “I got offered to start a band with some good players backing up Johnny Rivers, or something like that around 1966 he said. “It was more LSD than Beach Boys I think, any way, I went from Detroit to Hollywood and did some recording at Leon Russell’s house playing drums. At the time he was still producer for Gary Lewis and the Playboys, but there was a lot of people around that house, I got pretty good, like Delaney and Bonnie for instance. “While I was there I played with some great guys though, we had a great time. We played like seven days a week and a Sunday Matinee and recorded four days a week. So it was a lot of playing and we could only make about twelve dollars a night. We had to divide that between a seven piece band, but it was fun. That was where I saw my first all naked dancer. We would play while the girls were dancing”. Rusty sits smiling from ear to ear. “It was a place called “Carol’s Cottontail”.

It was a hip club I’m telling you. Leon Russell used to come in and play organ with us in there. Bobby Keys (later with Joe Cocker’s band at Woodstock) was in the band, it was called

“The International Clique” because we had a black guy, a Jewish guy and a Hill-Billy. It had a little bit of everything”.  “While I was there, I played this all black club called “Watt’s Mozambique”. It was an exclusive club, only the elite criminals could get in. One night, Stevie Wonder showed up wearing a pink-orange suit. Everything he was wearing was the same colour, even his shoes and socks. Now, get this, he was eating a dreamsicle and was even the same colour. It was worth seeing, believe me”.

After California, Rusty went back to Detroit to apply what was happening there, but they were two completely different places. “It’s cold in Detroit and hard to get around. I put an ad in the newspaper and Detroit Wheels answered my ad. Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels,” he reminisced. “They were the first Detroit band to really hit, they were selling billion sellers in 1966”. Mitch Ryder had left the Detroit Wheels and they needed a new singer, so they asked Rusty if he would like to fill the position. In 1967 Rusty stood up from behind the drum kit and became the front-man for The Detroit Wheels. He also got to sharpen his harmonica skills. “I got to come out from the drums and develop my harp a little more and better than that, I got to scream my ass off”. About two years later, the lead guitar player got hepatitis the day after the group had signed a deal with Roulette Records. “He turned chartreuse”, said Rusty, running his hand across his beard. “He had to be flown home in a bag, almost. He was really sick, so that whole deal fizzled”. Soon afterward, Rusty was walking down the street in New York City when a limousine pulled up to the curb, out of the limo walked a parade of hippies, one of whom was a bass player Rusty had known in Detroit, Michigan. “I shouted, hey, what’s happening,” he said waving his arms in the air. “And the guy yells back, I’m recording albums with the Amboy Dukes, I said oh yeah…The Amboy Dukes, I’ve heard some of their records, pretty good “Journey To The Centre Of Your Mind” was a pretty big hit at that time. So he said, “What are you doing,” and I said, I’m doing nothing, the band broke up, Howard Johnson’s has a hold on the limo, you can’t get anything out of the rooms or anything. It was about $57.00 a day, just for a single. Anyway, I got out of there alive”.

“I heard The Amboy Dukes were doing an album and they hated their lead singer, if they could find anyone to take his place, Ted Nugent would be the one. Nugent knew me as being part of the Detroit Wheels scene and what was happening there. I played with everyone in Detroit, Michigan. They asked me and I went with them, and a few concerts after that”.

“The Amboy Dukes did the first Miami Pop Festival in 1967. Rusty recalls it as being one of the high points in his life. Actually jumping in with Ted Nugent and recording was a great experience as well as a fond memory, but professionally limiting. “It was really great with Nugent, it was his lyrics and mainly his tunes, that’s the way he wanted it, and that’s basically what led me to leaving that trip. Ted doesn’t need anyone else. He can do the whole thing from a booking to checking in at the motels, to figuring taxes, to writing every song, every note”. So, Rusty headed back home to Detroit once again, where he got a band together called “The Dealers Blues Band”. But he found that it was really hard to start from scratch, since he had just been in one of the top groups in the country. “It’s really hard to start where everyone else starts from” he said, “where you have to scrounge up a P.A system, an Amplifier and get stuff that’s clean enough to wear, so the bar owner won’t throw you out”. “Well, we tried and failed. That was my try at a communal band where you get a farm house and everyone lives together and shares the same diseases and everything. It was a disaster. I had no money, my girlfriend’s up in Detroit had just given birth to my son “Joco” I had no dough and no place to go”. “But as always, things started looking up. Within a week, Rusty got a call from Carmine Appice who was then the drummer for The Vanilla Fudge. Also on the phone was the bass player who had turned yellow-back in New York City – Terry Kelly. They wanted Rusty to help form a new group that would later be known as Cactus. “Cactus was the band I started. They asked me how soon I could get there to meet them. I said, when is the next plane?

After only three months we had the first album together”. Jim McCarty and Rusty Day wrote all the material for the three Cactus albums, that were performed by the original band.

“Cactus” – “One Way Or Another” and “Restrictions”. Cactus was also featured on the

“Great Pop Festivals of the 1970’s” three record set. They did “No Need To Worry” and

“Parchman Farm”. “The whole Cactus phase was unbelievably terrific. The amount of energy those guys could generate was fantastic. It was the first time I really had a chance to use all the lyrics, poems, thoughts and ideas I had been saving for about five or six years. I had been with a lot of bands, but this was the first time I could totally use what I had to give. But, to do it professionally was a thrill, where you recorded everything you rehearsed, studied that and went home and picked the good parts and created music right there”. Cactus did well on their first tour, they opened the show for Jimi Hendrix, Steve Miller Band and The Grateful Dead, in nine out-door arenas. The second year Cactus toured around Europe. “We did the biggest pop festival ever held in Europe,” he said, “The Isle Of Wight Festival”. There were a lot more people there, than should have been. It was too small a place. I’ll tell you though.

That was the real pinnacle of my career”. Most of us remember Jimi Hendrix as a performer, but Rusty remembers him as a person. “We were with Hendrix at the last gig. The next morning they found him dead. We idolized him, everyone idolized him. I knew the girls that killed him. By that I mean, that furnished him with the pure Heroin and the Maytrex which is the equivalent of two Quaaludes”. Not long after Jimi Hendrix died – so did Cactus !


The Self Titled Cactus Album:

“You can tell on the first album that we were trying so hard to be good, and we were full of so much energy, that it would sometimes come out sounding abrasive. At any rate, Cactus folded. Our bass player (Tim Bogert) quit; he couldn’t understand how Carmine played. It was like Carmine could never measure up to what he wanted. But Carmine Appice was great to the rest of us. He used to play eight tom-toms at once. The octopus sets have his picture on them, even now. “Florida is a big treat for us all” he said, changing the subject, “Cause it’s like the circus coming to town. Everybody down here is so relaxed until there is a chance to go out. That’s when people really get down. I’ve been here for three years,  I bought this house,” he said proudly. “I wrote Detroit – Detroit, it’s a blues tune and the wrap up verse says, “I don’t know why in the world I keep coming back to you, I’d rather sweat down here in Florida”. 


My Dog “Pluto”

Pluto is a Rhodesian Ridgeback and his real name is “Sir Pluto The Night-Stalker of

Stalk-more” – Stalkmore is a dog kennel in Ontario, Canada – where I drive his mother (dog) to get screwed, to make him,” he said laughing. “When I passed through Canadian border, the guy asked me what I’d been doing and I said getting my dog bred, and he said ok!”

“Did you know that – that particular place where you crossed, was a popular crossing place in the sixties for draft dodgers, to cross the border into Canada?”  Rusty said, “But I’ll tell you how I got out of going to Vietnam. I knew I couldn’t go, and I was playing in this bar at the time so I advertised in the bar for anyone who knew anybody at the draft board who could get me out. It took about two weeks, but I got a response. To make a long story short, I paid the guy $250.00 who was grading my test”.  “Let me get back to my story now” he said. “After the break up of Cactus, I went back to Detroit and got in with a band called The Detroit Wheels. Steve Gaines was in the band with me. When I met Steve, he was broke and had no job. I started trying to get him into a band. I also told him, that he and Teresa could stay in the basement of my house. I had fixed it up nice. As a matter of fact, Teresa found out that she was pregnant at the time. She spent 30 days with morning sickness there”.

Note: Steve Gains died as a member of “Lynyrd Skynyrd” when their plane crashed in the Louisiana swamp, two years before this interview was conducted. Also killed in the crash were back-up singer Cassie Gaines who was Steve’s older sister, road manager Dean Kilpatrick and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant.  You know, Steve had some really good stuff.

He probably had enough material for three solo albums. “The whole Lynyrd  Skynyrd  plane crash thing was just bad timing” says Rusty. “Anyway, everybody sort of faded away from that band and went their separate ways. That was a good band with good musicians. I still hope to record some of the stuff”.


Since that time Rusty has focused on jamming with different people. He’s looking for musicians who live in Florida, because that was one of the main reasons Cactus broke up after it was re-formed here in Florida. The musicians couldn’t function that well knowing that their families were in Detroit. Rusty did jam with the Rossington Collins Band.

“I’ve burned out about three sets of musicians, trying to do the Cactus thing. Trying to re-do it that is. The studio is about the only place where you can do the right amount of work for the amount of money, instead of doing all the road work, as that can really be tough on a person”.


“I know something is going to happen, I’m just not going to force it. I’m not a pusher, I don’t push things, I’m a song writer, I play harmonic and drums. I sing blues, R & B and high energy rock. Right now I’m just in the process of re-location”. With the original Cactus, Rusty Day was the ultimate tonal voice, the songs were his songs, the interpretation and the emotion put into them, all came from his experiences”. “I’ve literally got lots of material, tunes that are ready to go, but I’m scared they may come out sour”.


All through the interview, I found Rusty to be relaxed and easy going, the total opposite from what he appears to be on stage. ”You have to be mellow to be extroverted. If you were extroverted all the time, you’d go crazy. You’d evaporate,” he said.   


You’ve led such a full life and done so many things. What was the biggest moment you can think of” “Europe was really big, everything was big though. I’ll tell you something, the biggest thrill is hearing your tunes on the radio. I’d go out and start up the car and there on the radio would be one of my songs. It’s really a thrill”.


“You know Cactus opened for everyone who was big. I always wondered what made these big bands so big, so I would go out in the audience and see why they were big, of if they were just kidding themselves. Most of them really had energies that you just couldn’t believe”.

“Madison Square Garden was also a big rush, I almost vomited during the first song, I was so nerved-up”. “At the Isle of Wight Festival, there was about a half million people. That was by far the largest group I ever played for. We finally went on at 4:30 with 45 mph winds hitting us in the face. All the bands went down so well, and the people were into it so much that every band was playing way over their allotted time, that they were slotted to play. We played with Jethro Tull, Sly and the Family Stone, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Ten Years After – every big name group that you could think of. That was a great experience, those are happy memories”.

 Rusty, is there anything in particular that you would like to say, that maybe you haven’t had the chance to say yet? “There sure is, I have a message to musicians, or people surrounding musicians, who have just started out. If they’re doing it for money, drugs or girls, they’re doing it for all the wrong reasons”. “They’ve got to have a legitimate message that is positive.

You have to have a plan, a schedule or goal, and work towards it and take your time. I see young guys throwing things across dressing rooms because something didn’t go just right. It only makes fools out of them and it never helps the situation. If an amplifier blows, or something like that, you have to learn how to handle it. I was young once and I did many of the same things, but now I can look back and see the mistakes I’ve made along the way. You have to learn from experience”.

At age 31, Rusty Day has given himself totally to his music, for more than half of his life, and he has learned what it takes to turn an audience on. “I’m a lyricist not a puppet or song stylist, some one who does other people’s songs. Over two thirds of my life has been dedicated to music and entertainment. You’ve got to like to entertain people. You can’t go in with your eyes closed in your little dream trip. You’ve got to entertain them, that’s the key. The end result is to have everyone yelling – more – more – more” ! When that happens, then you’ve done your job”. He says, looking very satisfied. 


“Carmine and I were lying in the back of a limousine on the way home from a gig in Arizona.

We were talking about leaving the Vanilla Fudge. We passed under a sign that read,

“The Cactus Drive In”. It was the easiest band name we ever thought of”.  – Tim Bogert 


“Duane Hitchings came from The Buddy Miles Express – and Peter French came out of Atomic Rooster”.


“Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice – two crazy musicians from New York City”.


“Carmine’s a Workaholic” says Tim Bogert 


“ The Cactus band was a party group, so immediately we began to party some more and had great big fun. We were all about having a good time drinking a lot, chasing women, which we became very good at! That was a fine rock and roll endeavour, I tell you what. Yes it was”.

Tim Bogert


One Way Or Another is now 40 years old, 1971 - 2013

Tim, are you proud of that record! “Oh Yeah, I’m very proud of my old work in the Cactus band. I thought the boys were terrific. It was a great opportunity for me to shine and I had a great time. I was a young man and oh gosh, it was wonderful, I couldn’t have asked for more really. More woman and fun than you can shake a stick at” !


Rusty Day by Tim Bogert:

“Oh he was amazing. Oh Boy, Rusty was quite an individual. A lot of rock and roll people put on this image of being a bad boy and tough guy. Rusty actually was a bad boy and a tough guy. He walked the walk and talked the talk. He was real and you didn’t mess with that guy, and I admired him for it. He was quite a piece of work! Yeah, he was. But, he was one of the best front-men I’ve ever seen and knew how to run a band harder than anybody I’ve ever seen. In his way, he was as good as Robert Plant, was in his own way. So yeah, I was very pleased to be in Cactus – very pleased”.


“Moody Jeff Beck, but brilliant, he’s absolutely brilliant. He’s one of the pest players of his generation”. Says Tim Bogert.


July 30, 1970 Ten Years After with Cactus and Toe Fat at the Fillmore West


“I saw them there in August 1970 and Cactus opened the show – they were horrible

The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York – Ten Years After played there several months earlier”.



Concert Photos Review / After Concert Photos


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