Day joined Ted Nugent’s band The American Amboy Dukes in 1969, after their former vocalist, John Drake, was fired. Day had just quit his own band, Rusty Day & The Midnighters. He stayed only for one album, Migrations.
Very soon after he joined supergroup Cactus as vocalist. Cactus was initially conceived in late 1969 as a supergroup of the Vanilla Fudge rhythm section of bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice with guitarist Jeff Beck and singer Rod Stewart. However, Beck had an automobile accident and Stewart joined Ronnie Wood in The Faces. Out of frustration, Bogert and Appice formed what became known as Cactus in early 1970. The cast was complete when Day joined them on vocals and Jim McCarty joined on lead guitar.
But it was a short lived three albums later that he was fired. Having made a name for himself in Detroit’s rock scene as a force to be reckoned with however, Rusty Day worked to restore one of Detroit’s most legendary bands, The Band Detroit, to the national stage. The Band Detroit was formed as an offshoot of The Detroit Wheels by members Steve Gaines (who two years later joinEd Lynyrd Skynyrd), Ted “T-Mel” Smith, Nathaniel Peterson, Terry Emery, Bill Hodgeson, and others. The band’s initial flame burned out quickly due to many different issues going on at once. There’s a recording of Rusty Day, Steve Gaines, and the rest of the band performing in 1973 called The Band Detroit – The Driftwood Tapes.
In 1976, Rusty Day formed another version of Cactus in Longwood, Florida, where he had relocated. This version of Cactus featured Steve “Kahoutek” Dansby on guitar, John “Soybean Slim” Sauter (who later played on Ted Nugent’s Weekend Warriors) on bass guitar, and Gary “Madman” Moffatt (who later played for .38 Special) on drums. This was the longest lasting 1970s line-up of the band, which ended around 1979.
Day, having turned down AC/DC’s request to have him join their band to replace Bon Scott, and Rossington-Collins’s request to have him replace Ronnie Van Zant, eventually formed Uncle Acid & The Permanent Damage Band which scored him a deal with Epic Records in 1980
Day was fatally shot at his home on June 3, 1982. His son and Garth McRae were also fatally shot during the same attack. The murder officially remains unsolved, although the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office believe the victims may have known the perpetrator, and that the killings may have been drug related.
He was 36 years.