Cactus was initially conceived as early as late 1969 and originally featured former Jeff Beck Group members lead vocalist Rod Stewart and guitarist Jeff Beck, xylophone player/vocalist Adele Smitchell, and former Vanilla Fudge members bassist Tim Bogart and drummer Carmine Appice. However, Beck had an automobile accident and was out of the music scene for over a year and Stewart joined Ronnie Wood in Faces.
In early 1970, Bogert and Appice brought in blues guitarist James McCarty from Mitch Ryder's Detroit Wheels and The Buddy Miles Express, and singer Rusty Day (born Russell Edward Davidson) from The Amboy Dukes.
This line-up produced three albums (The Debut Album, 1 Way Or Another, and Restrictions) before intraband troubles led to McCarty quitting at the end of 1971. Shortly afterwards Day was fired from the group. The fourth and last Cactus album (Hot & Sweaty) featured original rhythm section Bogert and Appice joined by Werner Fritzschings on guitar, Duane Hitchings on keyboards, and Peter French (ex-Leaf Hound and Atomic Rooster) on vocals.
The 2012 line up is Jim McCarty, Carmine Appice, Jimmy Kunes, Pete Bremy, and Randy Pratt.
After Cactus's dissolution in 1972, Bogert and Appice joined with Beck to form Beck, Bogart, & Appice. After one studio album (the self-titled Beck, Bogart, & Appice) and one live album (Live In Japan, released only in Japan) the band dissolved. Their second album remains unreleased to this day, along with recordings of the band's last concert at the Rainbow Theatre in London on January 26, 1974.
The New Cactus Band, led by Duane Hitchings, released one album (Son Of Cactus) and featured none of the original Cactus members. Mike Pinera, formerly of Blues Image and Iron Butterfly, came in on guitar, along with Roland Robinson on bass and Jerry Norris on drums. The band then toured live in the Midwest and on the East Coast in mid 1973 with Captain Beyond drummer Bobby Caldwell and former Gregg Allman bass player Charlie Souza. The New Cactus Band soon disbanded.
Having made a name for himself in Detroit's rock scene as a force to be reckoned with, 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, Ted "T-Mel" Smith, Nate 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 recordings of Rusty Day, Steve Gaines, & the rest of the band performing in 1973 called "Steve Gaines, Rusty Day, & The Band Detroit - The Driftwood Tapes".
In 1975, Rusty Day formed another version of Cactus in Longwood, Florida, where he had just moved to a few months before then. This new Cactus lineup featured Steve "Kahoutek" Dansby on guitar, John "Soybean Slim" Sauter (who later played on Ted Nugent's Weekend Warriors (album)) on bass guitar, and Garry "Madman" Moffatt (who currently plays for .38 Special) on drums. This was the longest lasting 1970's lineup of the band, which ended around 1981 on personal (yet good) terms. And although this lineup has been rumored to have recorded a few demos here & there, no known recordings of them have ever yet surfaced. Live recordings, however, you can find.
On June 3rd, 1982, Rusty Day was murdered at his own house at 173 Parson's Road. He was shot to death by an unknown gang of drug dealers. The case has never been solved and remains open, even now.
After a long hiatus, Cactus re-emerged in June 2006 with two appearances in New York City: a radio appearance on The Radiochick Show, and their first show since 1972 at B.B. King's Blues Club in Times Square (on June 3, 2006). This show was a warm up for the gig which sparked the reunion, an appearance at the Sweden Rock Festival in Norje, Sweden on June 9, 2006. The 2006 version of Cactus saw original members Appice, Bogert and McCarty reunited and joined by former Savoy Brown frontman Jimmy Kunes on vocals. Randy Pratt joined the band in NYC and Sweden on harmonica. The group also released a new album, Cactus V. In 2008, McCarty left the band again and, coincidentally repeating history, was once again replaced by Werner Fritzchings. Elliot Dean Rubinson replaced Tim Bogert who retired from touring. In 2011 McCarty returned to the band withPete Bremy taking over on bass. Bremy also took over for Bogert in Vanilla Fudge and is the only non-original member who has played for both bands.
- Ultrasonic Boogie: Live On W.L.I.R. F.M. Radio (1971)
- Cactology: Their Greatest Hits (1996)
- Barely Contained: The Studio Sessions (2CD, 2004)
- Fully Unleashed: The Live Gigs Volume #1 (2004)
- Fully Unleashed: The Live Gigs Volume #2 (2007)
- ^"Rolling Stone Music | Top Artists, News, Reviews, Photos and Videos". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved 2010-11-24.
- The New Musical Express Book of Rock, 1975, Star Books, ISBN 0-352-30074-4