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The Rockin’ World of the Derringers

By Diana ColsonRick & Jenda Derringer

The famed Rick Derringer lives in our midst. Internationally known as an American guitarist, vocalist, Grammy Award winning Producer and Entertainer, he and his wife, singer/songwriter Jenda, call Bradenton their home. Here, a feisty toy terrier by the name of Asher rules the roost. Now empty-nesters, the Derringer’s daughter, Loving (22) is in college, while their son, Marn (21), just graduated with a degree in Computer Science and Information Technology.

Born Ricky Dean Zehringer on August 5th of 1947, his parent’s home was filled with recorded music: Country, Jazz, Rock and the Blues. When he was eight he asked for a guitar for his 9th Birthday. When that long-awaited day arrived, his wish was granted: he received an electric guitar and amplifier.

The die was cast: Rick knew he was destined to be a musician.

He started off with a simple 50’s tape recorder. He would record a riff, put it on a loop, and play against it. He re-recorded this new pair of instrumentals, and then went on to add yet another part. He did this over and over until he had created a many-layered recording. The year was 1956. This bright young kid was doing his own multi track recording!

By the time he was 16, he was extremely successful. “I got to grow with the whole process. I learned a whole lot of tricks.” First he recorded 8-track, then 12-track, then 16, then 24, and so on, until ultimately – decades later – he would finally reach digital.

Rick Derringer 1When he was seventeen years old, his band, The McCoys, recorded “Hang on Sloopy” in the summer of 1965. This was to become the number one song in America, where it stayed until it was knocked off its pedestal by the Beatles and their iconic “Yesterday.” “Hang on Sloopy” was issued by Bang Records, inspiring Rick to adopt Derringer as his stage name, taking the name from the Bang Records logo which featured a derringer pistol.

One of the first opportunities for the public to see The McCoys in action was when they opened for the Rolling Stones on their entire 1966 American Tour. (Talk about making it to the Big Time!) Also, during the late 60’s, Rick jammed many times with Jimi Hendrix at The Scene in NYC.

Rick Derringer appeared on Alice Cooper’s Killer album in 1971, playing the solo on “Under My Wheels.” He also recorded and played with a version of Johnny Winter’s Band. In 1973, the rock group’s Grammy-nominated instrumental single, “Frankenstein”, topped the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, selling over one million copies.

Rick’s solo career took off like a rocket. In 1973, his solo version of “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” hit it out of the ball park. He was also recording extensively with Steely Dan, playing slide guitar on songs such as “Show Biz Kids” and “Chain Lightning.”

In 1977, Rick opened for Led Zeppelin on their Last American Tour. In 1983, he played as a guest on the KISS album “Lick it Up”, performing solo on their opening track. In 1986, he co-wrote and sang back-up vocal on “Calm Inside the Storm” on Cindi Lauper’s True Colors album. In 1990 he performed on the album entitled Edgar Winter and Rick Derringer Live in Japan.

Somewhere about then the radiant Jenda entered his life. I am enchanted by the beautiful song Rick wrote in her honor. “I always wanted to write a song with a truly unique girl’s name, and then along came my sweetheart, “Jenda”, the muse of this song.” Rick recorded the song on his award-winning CD, Knighted by the Blues. Jenda by Rick Derringer can be found on UTube, where you can see the beautiful lady who inspired the song.

In 2002, Free Ride Smooth Jazz was released. Jenda Derringer Hall sang the title song on this album: “Free Ride.” She also wrote the album’s Top Twenty Hit, “Hot & Cool” which charted at #16.

“Aiming 4 Heaven” launched Jenda and Rick’s gospel rock career, and Rick strongly proclaimed his Christianity. This recording included performances by both their children. (Today, in addition to their academic studies, Marn is a serious recording artist and songwriter who has written and recorded with Rick since age 8. Loving is the female vocalist in her boyfriend’s rock band.) The old lyric of “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo was rewritten into “Still Alive and Well,” and the lyrics were written by Jenda. The Derringer CD, We Live, was released in the fall of 2008. In 2009, Rick released the album Knighted by the Blues. The haunting single, “Sometimes,” was written by Jenda, and can also be found on UTube.

In the summers of 2010-2011, Rick toured with Ringo Starr’s 11th All Star Band, along with Ringo himself and a multitude of

Click to view videos
Click to view videos

stellar musicians. To this day, Rick is constantly going out on the road to take part in various performances with assorted name groups. His busy schedule is posted on his web site.

On March 30 of 2013, Rick and Jenda renewed their vows at the Sarasota Yacht Club. Soon after, in 2014, they went on to release a tribute album on the music of the Beatles.

Rick & Jenda Derringer Do The Beatles features fresh, upbeat tracks of many classics: Hard Day’s Night, Here Comes The Sun, Gotta Get You Into My Life, The Word, In My Life, Eight Days a Week, Something, and I Love U, Here, There and Everywhere, and Do You want to Know a Secret. All ten of these tracks were both produced and engineered by Rick & Jenda Derringer in their Bradenton studio.

Rick is currently hard at work on a new solo album called: Rick Derringer Does ElvisSinatra.

This is an amazing couple. Check out their work at: www.RickDerringer.com.