By Debra A. Perry
If you have ever been to the Roadrunner Market in Corona de Tucson on a Friday or Saturday evening, surely you have seen the Roadrunner Music Man, Rusty Sivley, also known as the “Ol’ Cactus Cowboy.” He has been making music and singing to the public for the last 70 years, to be more specific, since 1948.
In 1948, Hank Williams performed and released the single, “Lovesick Blues,” his most popular song ever, and his first number one hit. A little trivia that Rusty shared with me was that Hank Williams did not write “Lovesick Blues.” Rather it was a collaboration between Cliff Friend and Irving Mills written in 1922 about the men shipping off to World War I (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/lovesick_blues). In any case, the song inspired Rusty to learn to play music and sing. He has never looked back. He sings country and western, gospel, and cowboy music.
Rusty is a United States Air Force veteran. He enlisted on his 17th birthday and served for 10 years during the Korean War. He did not actually go to Korea, instead he was sent to North Africa. Following his enlistment, he became a police officer and later worked for a private detective agency. After traveling around the south, he finally came to Pima County with his family and became an air conditioning repairman. He has been singing all around the county, to include Tucson Meet Yourself, at the Veterans Administration, Sahuarita Walmart, CdT Roadrunner, nursing homes, hotels, private events, and for hospice patients, to name a few. He used to sell CDs. But times have changed, and everything is on the internet now.
Nowadays, Rusty is retired. He spends time with his animals, four dogs and two cats. He regularly sings at the CdT Roadrunner on the weekends. If you have the opportunity to see this Ol’ Cactus Cowboy perform, drop some money in his tip jar.
Debra A. Perry is the Director of Communications for the Corona de Tucson Community Alliance.