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Johnny Cymbal / Derek

Cleveland, 1960s-70s

According to standard biographies, Johnny Cymbal spent a good portion of his childhood  and  teenage years in Cleveland. He was born in Scotland but his family relocated to Cleveland in search of the high paying blue collar jobs Cleveland had post WWII.

The story goes he auditoned for a few Cleveland musical bigwigs, including Syd Lawrence, who seems to be credited for 'discovering' Johnny and getting him in touch with Philadelphia DJ Jack Gale, who then mentored Johnny for several years. After a couple failures, Johnny scored a pretty big hit with "Mr. Bass Man". His familty moved to California in the mid 60s and Johnny moved between CA and NY, doing more songwriting than recording.

In 1968 he has his biggest hit, recording the driving bubblegum rock song "Cinnamon", using the recording name of Derek. A band called Derek formed to back the record on tour, but didn't last long.

In the early 1970s he partnered with Peggy Clinger, one of the Clinger sisters who were an early entry in the 'all girl rock band' scene. They recorded as Cymbal and Clinger, one LP, before Peggy died of a drug overdose.  

He supposedly returned to Cleveland in the mid 1970s - when Cleveland was happening city for music - and re-established some connections to market his songs, which led him to move again to Nashville. He passed away there in 1993.