Friday, June 4, 2010

Johnny Winter And: Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo

“Who is 5 foot, 4 inches tall, plays a mean guitar, & whose first group scored a US number 1 hit record in 1965?“

Nils Lofgren (ZZZZTTT) – well, he plays a mean guitar, but he’s only 5’3”, and although he played piano on Neil Young’s “Southern Man” as part Crazy Horse, it was not a hit single. Besides that, Nils next project, the band Grin, never did achieve the popularity it deserved.

OK, I’ll ask again, “Who is 5 foot, 4 inches tall, plays a mean guitar, & whose group scored a US number 1 hit record in 1965?”

Suzi Quatro (ZZZZTTT) – she is 5 foot even and looked similar to our mystery person, but sadly Ms. Leather Tuscadaro played bass most of the time and although “Can the Can” went number one in Australia and throughout Europe – it was largely ignored in the US. Although, Quatro does bear a striking resemblance to our mystery artist, unfortunately it’s not her.

Quatro (left) and Derringer (right) - or is the other way around?

The artist in question was part of the rock band the McCoys who recorded the #1 hit “Hang on Sloopy” Rick Zehringer, who later changed his name to Derringer, because of the derringer pistol used on the Bang Records logo, is the 5’4” guitar virtuoso in question.

Towards the end of 1973, Rick Derringer released his long awaited solo album “All American Boy.” Drawing from his musical experience, he opened the album with a song that he recorded not once but twice in previous groups: Johnny Winter And and Edgar Winter’s White Trash. The two previous versions or “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo” featured not Derringer on vocals, but rather Johnny Winter. Although not part of Edgar Winter’s White Trash, Johnny appeared as a guest on his younger brother’s live album “Roadwork.”

Johnny Winter And – does it first

Although a studio version of this tune is not available on YouTube, a live 1971 recording showcases a slightly different guitar arrangement and slower tempo than Rick’s later solo hit. The original version appeared on the Johnny Winter And LP in 1970 and featured Rick and Johnny’s brother Edgar. Therefore, Johnny's version qualifies as our Friday Firsts feature.

Edgar Winter’s White Trash – more of Johnny Winter and Edgar and Rick

On White Trash’s second LP, “Roadwork,” Edgar’s older brother and former bandmate in Johnny Winter And is featured on one cut – you guessed it – “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo.” You can hear how the song had evolved at this point with the influence of Edgar Winter’s keyboard arrangement .

Rick Derringer’s hit version

From “All American Boy,” Rick Derringer’s version of his own composition topped the charts in 1974 at #23 with his first solo record on the Blue Sky label.

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