Edward "Rusty" York hails from Harlan County, Kentucky, where he
was born in 1935. His sister
bought him a used guitar with the moniker "Rusty" on it and the
the 1950s, he paired with guitarist Willard Hale and they went on to
perform at local clubs. When rock
and roll was born, they begrudgingly took requests for Elvis songs and
eventually caved, although they always tried to play fifteen minutes of
bluegrass per show.
wasn't until 1959 that York and Hale were able to release three bluegrass
cuts for Starday's Banjo in the Hills album, including "Banjo
Breakdown". Billy Thomas
pitched in on fiddle and Herman Kress on bass. His 1959 Fraternity single
"Cajun Blues" inspired the creation and name of a rock and roll
trio, The Cajuns, who toured with Dick Clark and subsequently enjoyed the honor of being the first rock act to play The Hollywood
1964, Rusty found himself on the road with rising country artist Bobby
Bare, with whom he would continue to work for the balance of the
decade. He also started the
Jewel record label, at first literally operating out of his garage. Such luminaries as bluegrass legend
Ralph Stanley and The Grateful Dead have haunted his studios.
last foray into recording as a performer was on the timely 1973 release Dueling Banjos. Aside from a couple of tours, Rusty continued
to devote himself to his true musical legacy, Jewel Records. He passed away at Redington Shores, Florida
in January 2014 when he was 78 years old.
Rusty York and Willard Hale