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Derringer: Our Beatles connection

In his own right, Manatee County resident Rick Derringer is a rock ’n’ roll legend with songs like “Hang on Sloopy” and “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo.”

He’s got a long-term working relationship with Edgar Winter of “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride” fame. The two played for a Palmetto Fourth of July crowd a few years ago. My wife and I made it a point to be there. I can’t recall another opportunity to be front and center for a free concert featuring artists of such stature.

Derringer has recorded with Alice Cooper, Cyndi Lauper and Steely Dan, among others.

This summer, he added a new credential to his illustrious career, touring with Ringo Starr’s 11th All-Starr Band. On Ringo’s 70th birthday, Paul McCartney made a surprise appearance to perform the Beatles’ “Birthday” in New York City.

And there was Mr. Derringer, standing shoulder to shoulder on stage with Sir Paul, playing guitar at Radio City Music Hall.

“Totally cool. It really was excellent, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Derringer told me in a brief phone conversation from Ohio.

“Edgar and I are both happy to being able to be on the tour,” Derringer said.

Also there for Ringo’s birthday was Jenda Derringer, Rick’s wife and writing partner, who’s responsible for locating the family in Manatee County.

Jenda’s father was the late Howard Hall, a Bradenton Herald columnist for many years.

She was backstage for Ringo’s after-concert birthday party.

Jenda relates the experience — one that fans would kill for — with the everyday manner of discussing a beloved neighbor. Call it being acclimated to breathing such rarefied air.

When it came time for McCartney to leave the party, Jenda said he grabbed her hand and “squeezed it real hard.”

“Wow, a Beatle wanted to hold my hand,” she said of the experience.

Rick and Jenda Derringer are long-time friends with Ringo and his wife, Barbara Bach.

Jenda remembers watching the All-Starr Band rehearsals before the tour launched in June.

“Hello to Jenda from the band,” Ringo called down to her from the stage.

Later, he encouraged her to clap along to “Yellow Submarine.”

“They are really down-to-earth, nice people. They are the real deal,” she said.

Happy birthday, Ringo.

Rock on, Rick.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee Editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.