An historic evening for meese Wednesday at B.B. King Club in Times Square, where Rick Derringer performed live before a sold-out crowd of more than 500. After spending much of the past year working with Liz D. on her memoir, a good deal of which covers the 22 years she was married to Rick, I never had occasion to meet the man. This evening connected the dots between so many stories and meeting the legendary guitarist face to face.
Ironically, it all came together in six hasty hours. Sitting on the steps of a brownstone in Fort Greene, BK, having lunch during Census training yesterday, I flipped through the Village Voice, and about choked when I saw that Rick Derringer was performing that night. A call to Liz D., who called Rick, and there we were, on the list, in the front row, beside renowned concert booking agent Dave Hart, who works with Ringo Starr, and has promoted the likes of Janis Joplin, Billy Joel, Tears For Fears, Green Day and Alanis Morissette.
Following a set by guitarist Pat Travers, Derringer walked onstage, as Liz, 10 feet away, hollered out his name. "Rick! Rick!" I realized that after living with the woman for two decades, he'd realize this wasn't some fan squealing from the pit. He immediately looked down and offered a nod. I told her, "My god, you're 16 again!"
Admittedly, my knowledge of Rick D's catalog is limited. Remember, I came into music by way of the Carpenters and Partridge Family. "Hang On Sloopy," his No. 1 1965 hit with The McCoys, was a rush—but hearing "Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo" was an unexpected fireworks-inducing thrill, as he ripped through the famous riffs, his guitar smoking and squealing, amid old-school pealing and piercing. After Rick sang and played the song, he launched into a two-minute solo that about made my ears bleed (with gratitude). I stormed to my feet, hands in the air. And I felt 16 again. Goddamn galvanizing.Above: Pat Travers. Below: Rick Derringer.Post-show. Love this pic. Still friends after all these years. This one's got to be in the book, I'm thinking.PHOTOS: THE SMOKING NUN