Frank Derrig's on a rock and roll trip, and he's sending back postcards from his journey. Derrig is the brains behind Rock-n-Roll With a Twist, a series of 12 colorfully illustrated postcards that recount bizarre and funny moments in Cleveland rock history. The cards are available free in music clubs and dozens of other venues around the city.
A former commercial art student at Cuyahoga Community College, he's dabbled in drawing ever since he learned how to hold a crayon. When he dreamed up the postcard series, he says, the theme of Cleveland's rock legacy was a no-brainer.
The first card in the series, "Happenstance Harmony," came out in October. It depicts rock writer Jane Scott singing a song with Brian Wilson after she interviewed the Beach Boy a few years back. It's only fitting to feature Scott on the first card, Derrig says. "I mean, who else got an invite to go along with Jimi Hendrix when he went to buy his shiny new Corvette?"
Derrig has issued a new card every couple of months. The second, titled "Stranded Songstress," portrays Cher dangling from a chandelier at Gund Arena, where a 10-minute technical glitch kept her from descending to the stage at the beginning of her 2001 concert. Card three ("Hats Off!") memorializes a Jimi Hendrix concert at Music Hall in 1968, when the audience pleaded with the guitarist to show off his 'fro. When Hendrix shouted that he would comply if a concertgoer would strip to his Fruit of the Looms, one "Ignatz," as Derrig calls him, began to depants. "The rest of us, we were emulsified."
The fourth card, "In a Lather," takes place at the Justice Center in April 1981, after Plasmatics singer Wendy O. Williams was charged for wearing a bra made out of shaving cream during an Agora concert. After her acquittal, Williams stretched out on the judge's bench, striking steamy poses for a photographer. The fifth and latest card, "I'm With the Banned," recalls a 1964 Rolling Stones gig on The Mike Douglas Show, taped at the old KYW studios downtown. Mayor Ralph Locher hated the band's appearance so much, he urged parents not to send their kids to the Stones' upcoming Public Hall concert.
Between 1975 and 1991, Derrig contributed to "They'll Do It Every Time," a syndicated newspaper strip. Since then, the lifelong Clevelander has kept busy illustrating Vet Extra, a magazine written by veterans for veterans (Derrig served in Vietnam), and he continues to draw at least six cartoons every day. "With my love of Cleveland, rock and roll, and history, the postcards seemed a natch," he says.
Eventually, Derrig plans to draw enough cards to publish a book. "I suppose other cities could find their unique moments in rock and roll history," he says. "But I know for sure we have ours."