There’s this photo of Rick Derringer in his younger days that you can normally come up on if you search Google images.
It shows Derringer on stage, smiling, with a seemingly massive Gibson Explorer.
I love the photo because it’s a visual representation of the fact that Derringer may be small in stature, but his guitar playing abilities are enormous.
And the man is a giant behind the guitar.
Derringer popped into the music news recently for the first time in years. As we told you last week, he’s picking up guitar duties in the coming tour of Ringo Starr and his All Stars, replacing Billy Squier.
It’s not surprising. Edgar Winter has been a Ringo staple for years, and Derringer goes way back with the musical Winter brothers, Johnny and Edgar.
But Derringer has been around longer than that. Much longer.
Derringer was still a teenager when his song, “Hang On Sloopy,” scored as a number 1 hit with his band, The McCoys. Born Richard Zehringer, he changed his name to the catchier Derringer during these early years.
And the name stuck, as did his partnership with the Winter brothers over the years. He’s played with both, including a stint in Johnny’s band, Johnny Winter And, during which Derringer’s version of “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo” became a hit and an on-stage staple.
Derringer also played with Edgar Winter’s White Trash, and appeared on the classic “They Only Come Out At Night” album, which he produced. The album, which featured Derringer and guitar wiz Ronnie Montrose, included the legendary hits “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride.”
He’s also produced other albums for Edgar Winter and a score of others, and played with Alice Cooper and Judas Priest. Derringer also did his own thing. His band, Derringer, released several solo albums, and toured with rock giants like Led Zeppelin and Kiss in the late ’70s and early ’80s. His song, “Still Alive and Well,” remains a lost classic.
And he amassed quite a discography: 20 studio and live solo albums, 5 with the band Derringer, and one each on two other projecrts, DNA and DBA. Both those bands featured journeyman drummer Carmine Appice – Carmine’s brother, Vinny Appice, played with Derringer – and DBA also featured former Cactus frontman Tim Bogert.
Keep in mind that Carmine Appice got his start in Cactus, so this all comes around.
Today, Derringer has continued to record and plug in the studio. Come summer, you’ll also be able to catch him on stage with Ringo and his old buddy Edgar Winter.
I guarantee you’ll hear “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo.”
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NOTE: This is part of my ongoing series of reports on guitar players who fly under the mainstream radar. Keep checking The Listening Room for future installments of guitar players you should know – JF)
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