UNION CITY, Ind. — Rick Derringer of the McCoys, who sang such songs as “Hang On Sloopy,” will be one of the many guest performers at the Union City Arts Festival, set for Sept. 11 and 12.
He will be appearing from 8 to 10 p.m. Sept. 12 on the Main Stage. There will also be Dinner with Derringer [with a ticket] at 5:30 p.m. a the Fire House Pipes.
Derringer, who changed his last name from Zehringer, will also have an exhibit featuring him up at the Old Hotel and Railroad Museum Sept. 2-5 from 1 to 5 p.m. (regular hours) and both days of the Arts Festival from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“Come look and enjoy,” said Zehringer family members of Union City, Indiana, Sarasota, Florida, and Roanoke, Virginia, who are making the exhibit possible.
The exhibit mainly features the collection of Derringer’s cousin, Mike Zehringer, who has been collecting memorabilia since Derringer was little. Rick, he said, is now 68, having been born Aug. 5, 1947.
Mike’s mother, Barbara Zehringer, said he was always musical.
“He played around with the guitar since he was 12 years old,” she said. “His uncle gave him a guitar from Jim Thornburg.”
“Two years ago, Rick was on an all-star tour with Ringo Starr,” said Mike. “I took guitar lessons from Rick and was a professional drummer a few years and taught myself to play bass/rhythm guitar. When I played professionally, Ron Brandon [another member of the McCoys] was our organist.”
Other members of the McCoys, in addition to Rick and Brandon, were Derringer’s younger brother, Randy Zehringer, Dennis Kelly and Randy Hobbs, who took over for college-bound Kelly.
“Rick and Randy [the brothers] had their own band around Fort Recovery,” Mike said. “His brother was the drummer when they made ‘Hang on Sloopy.’”
According to Zehringer, Derringer played the Greenville Fair, but indicated their first public appearance was in Dayton playing for the Beach Boys.
“When it got to rolling, it was a warm-up with the Beach Boys,” Mike said.
“Rick is so busy and they try to keep everybody away from him [at concerts],” said Barbara, who was married to Derringer’s uncle. “We went to Newcastle to see him a couple of years ago and got to be with him.”
The Zehringers said Rick usually has a meet-and-greet with everybody. And, he still has a band with three performers.
“He produces for stars and does backgrounds for commercials,” Mike said of his cousin.
Derringer’s last concert in Union City was in 2001, Mike said. And, the original group appeared together in June 2005 at Ambassador Park in Fort Recovery at the jubilee there.
This is the 50th anniversary year for the McCoys.
They started out as Rick and the Raiders in Union City, Indiana, in 1962, and then the Rick Z Combo before becoming the McCoys.
“Rick was lead vocal, lead guitar and spokesman for the group at the age of 17, and the others were background,” Mike said.
Rick’s brother Randy was 16 and “very possibly the only drummer in the world who stands up while playing,” according to a previous write-up.
Brandon was the organist and Hobbs, who died in 1993, was the bass player, replacing college-bound Dennis Kelly.
“Hang On Sloopy,” was their first release which reportedly shopped to the top of the U.S. charts and reached the top 5 in the UK in the summer of 1964
A historical account noted that by 1969, the McCoys had discarded its bubblegum image with the progressive album “Infinite McCoys” and became the house band at New York’s popular Scene club.
“Hang on Sloopy was written by songwriter Bert Berns and originally recorded by the rhythm and blues group The Vibrations as “My Girl Sloopy” in 1964.
The Zehringers are the average family.
“Rick’s dad, John “Pick” Zehringer, was a railroad man and they moved to Union City from Fort Recovery,” Mike said.
According to the local family members, Derringer changed his last name probably because it was easier to spell.
“When we try to say our names to someone over the phone, people can’t always understand,” said Barbara, whose husband Robert was mayor of Union City, Ohio, in the 1970s.
Derringer’s mother, Janice (Thornburg) Zehringer, now lives with son Randy in Roanoke, Virginia, and her husband died in June last year. A third brother, Robin, is an engineer for Norfolk and Southern Railroad.
“This collection is family…everyday stuff for us,” said Mike. “I’m doing this to promote the museum.”