DERRINGER - Report On First Show In 32 Years!
Special Report by Martin Popoff
History first - Rick Derringer's spiffy hard rock vehicle of the late '70s was called - pertly and appropriately - Derringer. The band consisted of Rick on guitar and vocals, along with drummer Vinny Appice (Dio, Black Sabbath, Heaven And Hell), bassist Kenny Aaronson (Dust, Bob Dylan, Billy Idol, HSAS), and second guitarist/vocalist Danny Johnson, later of Alcatrazz as well as many years with Steppenwolf.
The lineup recorded the immense Sweet Evil classic in '77 (my fourth-in-the-series book Ye Olde Metal: 1977 will include a long, detailed history of this album), a self-titled debut from '76, a live album. Then in '78, a third and excellent record called If I Weren't So Romantic I'd Shoot You was issued with a different set of, er, guns. This one was a bit more playful and poppy, but it is every bit as entertaining as Sweet Evil, an album that, I might add, Metal Blade Records founder Brian Slagel also believes is one of the greatest dozen or so albums of the '70s. So here we go... last night, April 22, 2008, marked the first show by the classic lineup in 32 years, at The Bear's Den Showroom in Niagara Falls, New York, with a second show set to go for tonight. A historic event to be sure, the band was nervous before hand, but for no reason, as a scorching set was played to near perfection, covering roughly two-thirds of the first two seminal albums, along with closing numbers 'Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo' and encore tune, 'Hang On Sloopy'. "A guitar band," is Johnson's assessment of Derringer's mission way back when in 1976. "Rick was the guitar player, and instead of just having a rhythm guitar player, you had someone who could step up to the mic and sing a little - we did that, and you know, just good music. We weren't really going for the blatant pop hit, and we didn't get it, and in hindsight, it might not matter that much. Just like John Kay always says: 'Watch out what you hope for because you might get it.' Like if 'Incense And Peppermint' was your hit (laughs). But Rick having 'Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo', and 'Hang On Sloopy' and 'Still Alive And Well'... it's still a good thing for us. You know, being a guitar band, both of us playing the guitars, we didn't have the Steven Tyler. I mean, Dave Roth said one time, 'Yeah, man, one guitar player is bad enough, but two?! Like when you guys start doing those guitar battles, that can really make a singer nervous.' But we tried to play together as opposed to just compete."
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