Saturday, April 23, 2011

'Classic Rockers' in my backyard

By Ray Shasho

It seemed like yesterday when the only thing that mattered was buying tickets for the next rock concert. In my sophomore year, I’d sneak out of class and call for a taxi cab on the high school payphone to pick me up and drive me over to the nearest ticketron outlet so I could be first in line to purchase concert tickets. I even earned the nickname, “Rock Raymond” for my rock concert addiction.
But tickets were extremely affordable then, even for a fifteen year old kid. Believe it or not, standard ticket prices for a show in the mid 1970’s were $6.50, $5.50 and $4.50. Man, have times changed!

During high school, I landed a job at the Capital Centre in Largo, Maryland about twenty minutes from my home. Me and five other guys mopped the floors underneath each seat for the entire 18,756 capacity arena. I did it to be part of the concert experience. I even got to hang out with Lynyrd Skynyrd while they played their debut song, “Saturday Night Special” during a sound check.

Now I live in Bradenton, Florida and it’s the home of many of those same rock and roll legends that I desperately needed to see in concert back in high school.

Not far from my home lives “Classic Rocker” Rick Derringer. This legendary rocker is now 63 years old. The Ohio native was just 17 years old when he had his first hit with the McCoy’s called, “Hang on Sloopy.”That song actually knocked The Beatles “Yesterday” out of the top spot. But my high school memories were better served by his 1974 top 40 hit, “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo” and his amazing guitar solo on the single version of Edgar Winter’s, “Free Ride.”

Rick established relationships with rock and roll greats like Jimi Hendrix and Alice Cooper. He’s a musician, songwriter, and record producer who have collaborated with Johnny and Edgar Winter, Steely Dan, Joe Walsh, Todd Rundgren, and Kiss, to name just a few.

Derringer finished up a tour with Ringo Starr’s 11th All-Starr band over the summer.

For the past ten years, Rick expanded his horizons by recording a Christian CD with his family called, “Aiming for Heaven” and also released his first solo venture into the world of smooth Jazz called, “Free Ride.” Rick’s wife Brenda Jean (Jenda Derringer Hall) is featured as a co-writer, arranger, and singer on the CD.

Rick’s latest CD “Knighted by the Blues” just proves Derringer is getting better with age. Jenda sang the title song and penned the top twenty hit, “Hot and Cool”.

Derringer is currently in production on a retrospective film about his life called, “Rick Derringer (All American Boy) Still Alive and Well.” For more information on Rick Derringer visit his website at

Other “Classic Rockers” in my backyard, well let’s see… there’s Dickey Betts the founding member of the Allman Brothers Band and Dickey Betts & Great Southern, Graeme Edge drummer and songwriter for The Moody Blues and The Graeme Edge Band, and just across the way in Sarasota is Brian Johnson, the lead singer for AC/ DC.

These are the rockers I can confirm. The ones I can’t are Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from Aerosmith. And there was that time when Mick Ralphs, the guitarist from Mott the Hoople, and Bad Company had his vintage guitar collection on display and for sale at the Sarasota Classic Car Museum. More to come!

What “classic rockers” are in your backyard? I’d love to hear about all your classic rock stories, contact me at

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