Rick Derringer - guitar, vocals; Alan Merrill - guitars; Benjy King - keyboards, vocals; Jimmy Wilcox - drums, vocals; Donnie Kisselback - bass, vocals; Guest: Ian Hunter - vocals; Guest: Dr. John - guitar, vocals; Guest: Edgar Winter - keyboards, vocals; Guest: Lorna Luft - vocals; Guest: Daryl Hall - vocals; Guest: John Oates - vocals; Guest: Mickey Curry - drums; Guest: T-Bone Wolk - bass; Guest: Southside Johnny - vocals; Guest: Ellen Foley - vocals; Guest: Todd Rundgren - vocals
It was billed as "A Special Evening with Rick Derringer and Friends." Calling it that was an understatement to say the least, because the music (and the evening itself) was incredibly special and Rick Derringer was certainly surrounded by a lot of very important friends. Among them: Daryl Hall & John Oates; ex-Mott the Hoople leader, Ian Hunter; Edgar Winter; Dr. John; Meatloaf sidekick, Karla DeVito; and vocalist Lorna Luft. In reality, the concert was a benefit show, and the charity was none other than Rick Derringer himself. Just a few weeks prior to this concert, Derringer had been on the road gigging with his band in mid-1981, when the truck containing all their equipment was stolen.
Unable to replace the truck and gear himself, Derringer and his band were suddenly in serious peril. Help, however, was on the way, and arrived when a friend, singer Lorna Luft, came up with the idea to do the special show. Within days of the robbery, she started calling other artists, many of whom had benefited from Rick's work as a guitarist and producer over the years. In less than a week, she had assembled an all-star lineup.
Derringer remembers the time as if it were yesterday, "This was a huge loss for us because everything was in that truck: rare guitars, all the stage equipment, the PA equipment, the stage lights, the stage clothes. Everything was stolen and it was never found. What really hurt was the fact that we had no insurance. We were between companies and our old policy had lapsed. We had lost everything. We had to cancel a bunch of shows and we had no idea how to get back on our feet, when Lorna thought of the idea to do a benefit show to raise money so we could replace the truck and the equipment. We did it at the Palladium Theater in New York City about five or six weeks after the equipment theft, in 1981."
Shortly after the concert was announced, the King Biscuit Flower Hour radio show stepped in and offered to record the show and broadcast it nationwide. "The folks at King Biscuit had heard about the show, and asked to broadcast it," says Derringer. "I had done several King Biscuit shows with the Edgar Winter Group. We had been talking to them about doing a Derringer band show for a while, and they decided to do this one." Derringer opened the show with his core band: bassist Donnie Kisselbach, drummer Jimmy Wilcox; and keyboardist Benjy King (later an A&R exec for Columbia Records).
From a musical standpoint, this show is certainly rough around the edges, considering the fact that it was done on the spot, and without the aid of extensive rehearsals. But the energy level is palpable - from a spunky version of the Derringer classic "Let Me In," through the soulful ballad" (I Think I'm Gonna) Jump, Jump, Jump" (which features inspired solos by both King and Derringer), to the rave-up closer, his all-time classic, "Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo." And appropriately, the first guest to join Derringer and his band for this legendary show was singer Lorna Luft.
"Lorna is Liza Minelli's sister," says Derringer." She had wanted to break out of the show music scene and wanted to sing rock 'n' roll. I had done a single with her called 'It's A Long Time'. Her rock career never really happened but she was a good friend, and it was her inspiration that fueled the show itself." After a couple more songs on his own, Derringer brought up Daryl Hall and John Oates, who offered an inspired mini-set of R&B classics that included the Smokey Robinson & The Miracles "Goin' To A Go-Go", Arthur Conley's "Funky Broadway" and Sam & Dave's legendary "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby." Joining the Derringer crew for the Hall & Oates segment were long time H&O members T-Bone Wolk on bass (later to become a charter member of the Saturday Night Live Band) and drummer Mickey Curry from T-Rex and The Cure.
Hall & Oates were followed by Dr. John and Edgar Winter, who teamed up with the Derringer band for a funky re-working of "Right Place, Wrong Time." Next up was Ian Hunter, who did one of his biggest solo hits, "Just Another Night (On The Other Side)," as well as a lesser known ode to the Big Apple called "Central Park & West." Hunter then segued into a medley of the Mott/Bowie classic "All The Young Dudes" blended with "Roll Away The Stone." It brought the house down.
"In some ways I was surprised, but in many ways I wasn't," says Derringer, speaking of the show fourteen years later. "I had supported all these people over the years and done a lot of favors. It certainly was gratifying, even though it was sort of pay back time for me."
Throughout the rest of the '80s, and into the early '90s, Derringer remained a steady touring act, but essentially stopped making new records. Finally, in 1993, he returned to the recording studio after a seven-year absence with Back to the Blues, a compelling collection of blues rock originals, followed by Electra Blues in 1994. In 2002, he released an unexpected jazz album entitled Free Ride. Derringer remains a road warrior to this day, continually pleasing a loyal following of fans with energetic live shows similar to the one captured here for the King Biscuit Flower Hour.