Coming from humble origins, Rustee and his family migrated to Oakland, California around 1955, from Monroe, Louisiana. Moving into a community called Sobrante Park, further toward East Oakland, would be the place that his passion for music would begin to blossom. Ironically, it was in this small community that Rustee noticed a tall, dark figure, caring a long suitcase (that’s what he thought it was!). His name was Larry Graham. His girlfriend of the time, live directly across the street!
Driving around on a Sunday afternoon, he noticed a man getting his shoes shined at a shoe shine stand. Rustee shouted out “stop the car!”. He jumped out, ran up to the man, and immediately asked him if he would let him play in his band! The man was Mr. Johnny Talbot. Rustee was 17 years old at the time.
It was with Mr. Talbot, Rustee received musical nurturing in the blues, funk, and jazz idioms. Mr. Talbot was a Texas born, blues and funk guitarist, who himself, was trained and schooled under the tutelage of Mr. T-Bone Walker. Mr. Talbot would become a dominant force in the bay area music scene.
It would be with Mr. Talbot, that Rustee would get experience playing the premiere clubs in Oakland, The Showcase, The Sportsman Club, The Continental Club, The Reno Club, and The Club Triangle. It would further gain him experience on hallowed stages, like The Fillmore West, Winterland, and other iconic musical establishment.
Although taking classical double bass lessons at Sherman and Clay in Oakland, and showing potential as a classical bassist, the call of the road, adventure and excitement, was irresistible! Rustee would get road experience with Mr. Talbot, and cut his first records. Johnny Talbot and De Thangs were a local favorite, and the records “Git Sum”, and “ Take it Off” would receive major local airplay. (Bearing in mind that Sly and The Family Stone albums had been released A Whole New Thing, Life, and Stand, Rustee was leaning heavily towards that concept.)
Being an avid listener of Sly Stone on KSOL radio, it wouldn’t be long before Rustee would be introduced to Larry Graham, and Freddie Stone. Larry was writing, and used vocalists like Lenny Williams. Freddie was overseeing “Little Sister” project. Rustee would soon find himself backing Little Sister on bass, and opening shows for Sly and the Family Stone. He would later become the first choice by Sly, to replace Larry Graham. Continued success would come by way of Rose Stone, Robin Trower, and the late great Bobby Womack.
And now his newest journey is about to begin. With the release of the “Simple Rules” EP, here’s hoping that Rustee enjoys continued success at this juncture of his life.