Rusty received his first equipment (a Peavey T27 guitar and a Peavey Decade amp) on his fifteenth birthday. From that day on Cooley immersed himself in music, practicing upwards of four hours a day. Rusty took guitar lessons for a while but became dissatisfied with local guitar instructors and decided to become self-taught. He relied on instructional books and videos like Doug Mark's Metal Method.
After only three years of playing he became a guitar teacher at the music store where he had purchased his first guitar.
After high school Rusty went to the local college and studied Music Theory.
Rusty joined Revolution in 1989 and stayed with them until 1993. During his time with Revolution they became a well-known band in Houston, even opening for bands such as Nitro, Badlands, South Gang, and Every Mother's Nightmare.
Rusty formed a short-lived band called Dominion after he left Revolution. The band broke up in 1995. During this time Rusty won the Guitar Master Series and was named "Best Guitarist" in Houston.
Rusty is a member of Outworld, which he formed in 1997. Outworld released its self-titled debut album on November 13th, 2006.
Currently Rusty is endorsed by Dean Guitars, EMG Pickups, Morley pedals, GHS strings, VHT, Rocktron, Eventide and Maxon.
He was previously endorsed by Jackson Guitars and, more recently, Ibanez Guitars.
His Signature Dean Model was released at NAMM in early 2007.