Rusty Wier was the consummate entertainer. He engaged you, charmed you, made you think, made you cry, and, of course, made you want to dance. But the "money-back guarantee" was that he would always make you smile. When you watched him perform, it was like catching up with an old friend you hadn’t seen in a while. This warm, familiar feeling would spread across your heart from the moment his big ol’ boots hit his stage. Yes, his stage … any stage he took was always his stage. And as soon as he settled his lanky frame down on that stool and you saw that sparkle light up his eyes and that larger-than-life grin unfold itself across his face, you just couldn’t help but smile right back at him … that was the magic of Rusty Wier.
Rusty embodied the true spirit of the Texas musician – persistent yet jovial, hard working yet playful. And that’s why audiences responded to him more as a friend than as a performer. Having spent his childhood years in a world of restaurants, nightclubs and hotels, he had learned early on that strangers were just friends he hadn’t met yet and that all the world really was a stage, his for the taking.
And take it he did, dishing out $50.00 worth of entertainment for every $5.00 ticket that he sold. His expressive and thoroughly organic whiskey-throated vocals, sometime low and growling, sometimes soaring to blues-tinged heights of barely controlled exuberance, became immediately recognizable, uniquely his own, yet at the same time unmistakably representative of home-grown Texas music.
No big surprise there … Rusty was a
home-grown Texan. Born in Corpus Christi, he soon called Austin
home. Discovering his inner ham at the tender age of three while
charming patrons of his father’s capital-city restaurant by riding
his stick horse between the tables, Rusty fully embraced the joy of
Rusty’s adamant stand against being pigeonholed into one genre of music dates from this period in the Sixties, when folk, rock, country and blues all cross-pollinated to produce new strains of music. Inspired by the changing times, Rusty came up with a new musical direction of his own: he put down his drumsticks and taught himself to play the guitar.
Heading into the Seventies, Rusty was
right on schedule for a head-on collision with his destiny. Just as
B. W. Stevenson, Michael Martin Murphey, Jerry Jeff Walker, Steven
Fromholz, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings were all sitting down
at the table to shuffle that Sixties deck of folk, rock, and blues
cards into something that would come to be known as the Austin
Sound, Rusty Wier came back from an ill-advised trip to LA and
pulled up a chair for the deal. And what a trump card this outlaw
had up his sleeve! "Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance" was recorded by
artists as diverse as John Hiatt, Barbara Mandrell, and Jerry Jeff
It became a monster hit when Bonnie Raitt’s version appeared on the
Urban Cowboy soundtrack, earning Rusty a double platinum
record for over two million sales. His signature song, it catapulted
him to fame, fortune, and life in the fast lane.
Rusty signed his first recording contract with ABC Records and went on to record for 20th Century and Columbia Records throughout the Seventies, writing or co-writing most of the material for all the albums he released. He appeared on Austin City Limits in 1976 and again in 1977, delivering his unique brand of "Rusticana." In 1985 he joined Steven Fromholz, Asleep At The Wheel, Greezy Wheels, Marcia Ball, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Gary P. Nunn and the Lost Gonzo Band for the filming of the Austin City Limits Reunion Special. Rusty also appeared on the Nashville Network series The Texas Connection, and his music video "Lover of the Other Side of the Hill" aired on the CMT Network. Recognizing Rusty’s affable charm and unique appeal, savvy advertising executives enlisted him for several well-known television and radio campaigns, including memorable ads for McDonald's, Lone Star Beer, Texas Hatters, House of Jeans, and the City of Austin.
Firmly established in the outlaw genre, Rusty shared stages and entertained with the Charlie Daniels Band, Marshall Tucker Band, The Outlaws, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Amazing Rhythm Aces, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Pure Prairie League, Gatemouth Brown, Steven Fromholz, Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck, B. W. Stevenson, Waylon Jennings, Asleep at the Wheel, Jerry Jeff Walker, Commander Cody, Doug Kershaw, Ray Charles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the Allman Brothers Band. At one point, he even had George Strait opening shows for him. Over the years, he enjoyed friendships with many of the today’s new wave of outlaws, including Miranda Lambert, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Larry Joe Taylor, Tommy Alverson, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and a host of others.
Rusty Wier was a songwriter’s songwriter, an entertainer’s entertainer, a true Texas troubadour. Aside from his family, the two most important things in his life were his music and his friendships with his fans, and that showed in every performance. As the official Ambassador of Rusticana, he spread good will wherever he traveled, amassing loyal followers both here and abroad. People of all ages and cultures were drawn to his warmth like flowers to the sun.
If you were ever lucky enough to bask in the light that was Rusty Wier, you remember exactly how it felt: it made you wanna dance … it made you wanna smile!
For additional information, please contact:
Vicky Moerbe, Crossfire Productions,