He was a friend and influence of John Bonham. He co-wrote hit songs with Rod Stewart. He and his band mates in Vanilla Fudge were among the top bands of the late 60’s and their sound influenced a whole generation of rock musicians. Carmine Appice, the elder brother of drummer Vinny Appice is a legendary figure in rock music and is still busy as ever at age 72 with no sign of slowing down.
The Fudge just released a cover of “Stop in the Name of Love”, a follow up to “You Keep Me Hanging On”, 54 years later. How did that transpire?
Well, we have a manager, Tom Vitorino who’s a very visionary kind of guy and he said, we should get an album done with Vanilla Fudge doing Supremes songs, three quarter Supremes and one quarter R&B stuff and I said, “Okay, let’s go in and screw around with that idea.
We had written this other piece of music that we all liked and it fit the song so we just put the song on top of this other piece of music that we were working on so basically, it started sounding good. And then we realized that Tim was very sick. Tim wasn’t playing with us, he’s been retired for many years so we wanted to get Tim on this, because he was at stage four cancer and we didn’t know how long he was going to last. We thought it’d be a good thing to do for him, and for the band and to make it the last thing that the band ever recorded with Tim, and to make it a Supremes song, 54 years later, it’s like an anniversary and a tribute to Tim.
We had to go to California to do it. We did it at the bass player from Gov’t Mule, Jorgen Carlsson’s house and Tim played a four string bass. He was really sick and he came to the session in his pajama bottoms because he’d never gone out anymore.
Tim was like my brother, so we got him and he couldn’t remember some stuff with cancer in his brain. Some chord changes and Jorgen rolled out a chart and was pointing stuff out to him. As soon as he started playing with me on the drums it locked, the magic was there again. Unfortunately, the drums that I put down originally were not good because they had too much leakage of the organ and guitar so I had to re-cut the drums but now at least I can cut the drums to Tim.
I moved to Florida and built a studio in my house and six months later I developed the drum sound and re-cut that track. Now I’m using two bass drums that were played many times with Tim in Cactus and they’re very old and they sound amazing. So I record all the drums here. I got an old Slingerland snare drum and I got my drum toms, Sabian cymbals and Audix mic and using Cubase and I re-cut everything and it locked like magic. Then we got my buddy Pat Reagan to mix it and after we mixed it we bounced it to analog and back. I’ve been doing that with all my recordings.
We actually did the Led Zeppelin Vanilla Fudge album on analog. Everything I do, my Guitar Zeus records on analog.
I was just listening to that Zeppelin album today on the golf course. My golf game sucked but the music was great.
It’s a really great record but we never got a good push on it. The record label went out of business and it never really got a shot. Then Golden Robot picked it up and they released the immigrant song and we did a video for it. Not really a video where we went out and played, we just put stuff together.
It’s like the video for “Stop In The Name Of Love”. We wanted to make a historical video, anniversary and a tribute to Tim because now it’s 54 years between “Hanging On” and “Stop in the Name of Love”. That’s pretty amazing to get the original band come back and play. The Beatles can’t do that, The Stones can’t do that, and The Who can’t. All the bands that were big when we were big.
Somebody sent me a chart the other day and we were number four, Beatles number three, The Doors were number two and The Stones were number one or something like that. Oh, and Hendrix was number five after us. I looked at that list and said, “Everybody on that list got huge except for us because that second album we did, that ruined us”.
I was going to talk about that. It’s so ironic, let’s talk about the early days. You guys were unique in so many ways. How many bands can say that their debut album was entirely cover songs, and was a big hit? Maybe some jazz artists but not in rock.
Yeah. And the fact that album went to number four without having a smash single. We are the first act to ever have a top 10 album without having a smash single.
In Billboard magazine we were number two for vocals. Number one was the Beatles. It’s just unbelievable how that second album ruined our career because we didn’t know any better.
We were following Ahmet Ertegun who was the owner of Atlantic. It was him and Shadow Morton. Shadow didn’t really have much to do with the first album, he just recorded it. That was all our arranging that we were doing in the clubs. We didn’t know how to record it. He did “Keep Me Hanging On” with one take mono, exactly what we did on stage. I would say seven and a half minutes to change my life.
When you guys started out, what made you guys decide to do a record of covers?
It starts back in 1966; the fad in Long Island was doing production numbers. It started from The Rascals. Then it came down to the next level which was The Vagrants with Leslie West. The Vagrants used to pack out my managers club 2000 people. Not an original song on it. They used to do “Respect” by Aretha Franklin but slowed down. Same with “Satisfaction” by The Stones. By doing that you got more emotion.
When they found me, I was playing with an R&B band with horns, playing James Brown and all that stuff. Tim and Mark approached me and said we’d like you to play in our band. Our manager is going to put us on a salary and we’re going to try and make it in the record business. We have this whole concept to do and the drummer we had technically can’t do it and doesn’t sing. You sing, you got a great foot, great feel, you’re a great R&B player and you hit hard. I’m like, “Man, I’m doing good with my band. I make four or five hundred a week”. I had a brand new 64 Chevy, a brand new call, I was good. I said, “Let me go check it out.”
I went out to Long Island and Mark Stein’s voice just blew me away. His keyboard playing blew me away. Tim Bogert. I never played with a bass player. I was playing with a guy like The Rascals, a left hand bass on an Organ. When I played with Tim, I saw him play and sing. I was blown away. Same thing with Vinny on guitars. “These guys are great.” I said, “I think I might give this a shot.”
So then we started doing that fad. We did songs like “I Think I’m Going Out of My Head” by Little Anthony and the Imperials. What we did was a little different from the rest of the people. Billy Joel had The Hassles and they were doing it too. This guy named Richie Supa was in a group called The Rich Kids. He wrote “Pink” for Aerosmith and a few other hits for Bon Jovi, and Richie Sambora, he became a big hit writer. So as a lot came out of that whole scene.
We were fortunate because we had four voices and we all sang pretty damn good. We all have the same vibrato so we could sound like a bunch of R&B chicks or we can sound like Beatles, we can sound like whatever we want to sound like. We arranged our songs to fit the lyrics. We slowed it down and put that emotion into the song. Eleanor Rigby we took that graveyard, eerie lyric and we placed it in a graveyard setting with the music. We turned into a gospel kind of thing. Bang Bang was sort of like a Broadway show.
So that’s what we did and we did that on stage. We did that while we were working in Newport, Rhode Island in 1966 and we smoked pot and we listened to the Revolver album. Up to then, I wasn’t a Beatles fan. I liked Day Tripper, I liked a couple of songs, but I thought they were teenybopper terrible. Because I was a technical drummer I’ve studied and I knew how to read. I could read music, I could play all R&B, technical stuff, I played Buddy Rich, Jazz, I could play whatever. Not till Revolver did I realize that Ringo was not just a drummer that held time like Charlie Watts. Charlie had great feel but Ringo had melodic drum parts. That turned me on to melodic drum parts even though I played them spontaneous.
The next time I played it would be spontaneous again but the skeleton of the arrangement was there. Then I started getting taken with Dino Danelli showmanship wise to the next level, a lot more power. And then things got louder and I needed a bigger bass drum because you couldn’t hear my bass drum so I bought a 26” bass drum in a pawn shop. That became an oversized drum set when I got my endorsement, which started a whole fad of big drums and I started playing loud and heavy. I was the only one doing it. Mitch Mitchell didn’t play like that, Ginger Baker didn’t play like that. You see me back in 68/69. I was like an animal.
I love what you said about John Bonham when they opened for you guys in 69. How he would copy your drum fills and look over at you and smile.
Oh yeah, we used to goof. One time we played Chicago and Jethro Tull was the opening act with Clive Bunker who’s a great drummer, and then Zeppelin went on, then Vanillia Fudge. We were headlining.
When Clive Bunker was on, me and John would stand behind him and throw spitballs at him. Then when Bonzo went on we did the same to him and I went on, they did the same to me. It was all fun. It wasn’t a business yet. When I heard his foot on “Good Times, Bad Times”, I said whoa, this guy’s great! When I met him he said, “I got that from you.” I said, “I don’t do that.” And he pointed it out on the Renaissance record. Again, I play spontaneous and I do it on the record, now it’s written in stone. Yeah, he took it and did his thing on it. I would do the spin like I do and grab the cymbal and he would be playing and say watch this then he’d do it. I’d go, yeah!
Thirty years later I’m on tour with Ozzy and I see Tommy Lee doing it. I said, “Where’d you get that?” and he says, “From John Bonham.” I said, “Indirectly you got it from me.” He said, “No dude, I got it from Bonzo.” because Zeppelin was so big. I said, “After this tour come to my house, I want to show you something.
So he comes to my house and I played him the Sullivan Show in 1968, before Zeppelin was even out. I’m doing that, I’m playing hard and I’m killing it. I’ve got the big bass drum. He said, “Dude, I can’t believe you did this before Bonzo.” I told you, I’m not being egoed out, it’s the truth. So watch this. I show him the second time we were on before Zeppelin and I have the big drum set. I said, “That’s my drum set I had before Bonzo and if you take that one bass drum away it becomes a Led Zeppelin drum set.” But look at the end of the song shotgun. He said, “Dude, when was this done?” I said 1969. He said, “It sounds like the ending of Rock and Roll.” I said, “Yeah, it does.”
Look at the big court battle with Spirit and Stairway to Heaven. Everybody influences each other, right?
The great jazz drummer Joe Morello said, “Everybody steals from each other, nobody has it all.” That says it right there.
What’s really funny is one time I went to Australia and I’ve been to Australia a bunch of times with Rod (Stewart), that’s the only time I’ve been to Australia and I was doing a drum clinic and I went to these people’s house and this guy says, “I saw you on TV yesterday.” I said with Rod?” and they said no, the Muppets. I said, “What are you talking about?” They said, “Animal.” I never watched TV back in those days. What are you talking about? They showed me a video of animal and I said “Oh, that does look like me. He had all the tom toms around him, the crazy hair and he’s gone bananas, you know?”
So I get back home and say to my management, “I want to call the Muppets and challenge that Animal to a drum battle.” He said alright and he calls Jim Henson studios and they said we’ll get back to you. They call back a few days later and say, “We love the idea, we’re going to do it.” That’s the good news. The bad news is we’re gonna use Buddy Rich. I knew Buddy, he was a friend of mine at the time so I called him. I said, “Buddy, I hear you’re going to have a drum battle with Animal from the Muppets. He says, “How do you know?” I said, “Because it was my idea.” Buddy says, “They wanted the best.”
You’re working on another Beck, Bogert and Appice live album aren’t you?
Yeah, it’s finished. I mixed it with Jeff’s engineer three years ago, now I’m waiting. His manager is getting the deal together. I don’t know when it’s going to come out. Before Tim passed away we had to sign the deal so Tim could physically sign it so anything made from it will go to his wife.
You’ve been really busy lately. I think you’re always busy, aren’t you?
Yeah, I try and be busy. The pandemic was interesting because I got the studio so I did this whole Appice Perdomo Project album. I call it APP and we started with one track to see how it was going to work and I’m thinking, let me work with this guy so I could learn how to run my studio.
I’m the engineer now on this album. The Energy Overload album is coming out on the 24th. We just released a single called “Rocket to the Sun” and a video and we’re doing another video. I learned how to run my studio by doing this record. I gave him some stems I had on my iPad and he played them and made them better then sent them back to me and I put them on my machine and I played to it. I said, “Wow, these sound great.” And I sent it back to him and he fixed anything he needed to fix and we sent it to the mixing guy. We said, let’s do another one and then another and another and now we got 18 songs. We released 12 and we got six towards a new album. They’re all instrumental and they’re great, great melodies.
There’s a really famous female singer that’s really big in Europe, was big in the 70’s, and we had her on my show Hangin’ & Bangin’. We became good email friends, and she asked me if I would play on her next album. I don’t just play on anybody’s album, I don’t just do sessions with Joe Schmo, you know, Pink Floyd, Stanley Clarke, Jeff Beck, Paul Stanley, Eddie Money, people that are known. So I said, “Yeah, I’d love that.” And she goes, “Well, send me something recent that you’ve done. So I sent one of the songs, a song called “Flower Child” which is the next single and she said, “I love this. I think I can write lyrics and melodies to this, do you mind? I said, “Have a good time.”
I think she’s doing that now and she still sells records in Europe. It’s really good and Fernando sounds like Jeff Beck sometimes on this so she said, “Is this who I think it is?” I said, “No, it isn’t, it’s my buddy Fernando. She said, “Oh my god, he’s amazing.” Do you know him or did you hear our song?
Oh, I heard the song and I’ve kind of heard of him. I saw him in that documentary Echo in the Canyon.
Yeah, and that was his claim to fame but I think this is going to give him more of a name because he’s playing his butt off. One of the songs on that album is called “Little Havana”. He’s Cuban, his parents are from Cuba. The song has a rock, jazz, Cuban kind of vibe. So I played to it hen after it was done I said, “Let me add something to this. So I went and did this really fast shuffle like Parchman Farm from Cactus, Hot For Teacher. I said, “See if you can put something to this to make something different. He sends me back this thing it was freaking great! So now it was Little Havana and Big Havana. So then I said, “I’m gonna send you another drum track.” And that’s what “Flower Child” started out as, a drum track, and it’s freaking brilliant.
We get along really great. He’ll send me something and I’ll say, “I don’t know if I like that thing. Why don’t we change that pre chorus?” and then he’ll say, “Maybe you shouldn’t play that kind of groove then, can you play something a little different? We both try it and we get it done. And you know, we never had an argument yet.
Speaking of that, Vanilla Fudge broke up and reformed several times over the years. Was there any fighting at all over the years or was it always amicable?
It originally broke up because we were going to start Cactus with Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart. That started when we did a Coke commercial and Vinny Martell got sick and our lawyer who represented Jeff Beck too got Jeff to play on the Coke commercial. Me, Tim, Mark and Jeff played and Blind Faith had just gotten together and it was a supergroup. Tim and I were blown away by Jeff.
Then when we did one gig in 1969, what a crazy gig. It was Led Zeppelin, Edwin Hawkins Singers, 10 Years After, Jeff Beck Group and Vanilla Fudge, and when Jeff Beck group was on Led Zeppelin went up and jammed with them. So you have Robert Plant, Rod Stewart, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, and John Bonham playing on my drums. That’s the night when John Bonham came up to me and gave me Jeff Beck’s phone number and said, “Jeff wants to play with you and Tim.”
We wanted to do that so we broke up The Fudge. Rod didn’t want to work with Jeff and so Jeff was coming over to America to talk to us about the whole deal and then got in a car accident and was going to be laid up 18 months. We said, “Are you kidding me? We just broke up Vanilla Fudge. We had gigs in Australia worth a lot of money and hits in Australia and Japan and so we can’t sit around for 18 months and we can’t go back to Vanilla Fudge.
So we just went on and we got Cactus which was Jim McCarty and Rust Day and then Jeff wanted us back anyway so then we did Jeff Beck group featuring Jeff, Tim and Carmine and then Beck, Bogert and Appice and that lasted a year or two and that was done and then the next thing happened, Rod Stewart.
Rod always loved “You Keep Me Hanging On” and said I wish I would have done it. I said let’s do it, I’m in the band, good excuse. So we did it and he did it great.
There I am on stage 1978 playing it again with Rod Stewart singing now. That kept going, I kept doing my thing and that went to 82 and then Ozzy in 83, Ted Nugent, and then our lawyer got us another record deal and we did the Mystery album.
Spencer Proffer got involved and wanted to produce Vanilla Fudge. He did the Quiet Riot album and I worked with him on the Nugent record and the Derringer Appice record. So we did the album and he’s the producer so he was telling Vinny what to play and Vinny didn’t like that. He kept saying, Vinny, either you do it or I’ll bring in a session guy to do it. So he ended up bringing a session guy in for most of the album except for “Walk on By”. So what does Vinny do? He puts an injunction on the album, legally. So we said, See, this is why the band’s not together anymore, because nobody can get along.
We went out on the road in 87 me, Mark, Timmy with somebody else. We played the 40th anniversary of Atlantic Records at The Garden with everybody, with Phil Collins, The Rascals, Yes, and we didn’t use Vinny. Vinny came to the gig afterwards and he was hanging out with us but we didn’t want him to play with us.
Then we did a tour and 87 without Vinny that went really great. We had War and Rare Earth under us and that worked great and we recorded some live stuff without Vinny. And then the 90’s came and we didn’t do anything in the 90’s
I went to Japan and worked the whole 90’s there because America was grunged out. Guys like me were dinosaurs. Queen, Aerosmith, nobody wanted to see us, we were all dinosaurs.
I went there first with Jeff Watson from Night Ranger. We did a tour there. Then I went there with my own tour called Carmine Appice Super Session Volume Two. I did Volume One in 1982 with Rick Derringer, Tom Peterson, Eric Carmen, me and Duane Hitchings. This time I had Tony Franklin, Mitch Perry, Kelly Keeling and me. The three of us were also on the second murder album which was big in Japan so we were doing some of those songs and it was happening.
Later on I joined a group called Pearl with Tony Franklin and two Japanese players who were big in Japan. And we released albums that used to break into Japanese charts top five. We got gold Japanese records over there. We drew five or six thousand people everywhere we went with that and that lasted to 97.
In 99, I brought Tim over and we did a Char, Bogert and Appice live album. Char was the Jeff Beck in Japan. We did stuff from the album that I just mixed which was a huge bootleg in Japan and the song “Satisfied”, all the Japanese people knew the song and the bootleg. We played The Budokan and sold out four nights with 12 thousand people. Char normally would play to 25 hundred people so the combination was big.
One day I hear The Vanilla Fudge is coming to play a little club in Tokyo and I’m playing The Budokan and all these big things and I said, “Wait a minute, I wasn’t asked to play. So who’s coming?” It was Vinny, Timmy and some other drummer and this guy Bill Pascali that sounds just like Mark on keyboards. So my manager worked it out to a better venue with me playing with them. We got more money.
It started me playing with Vanilla Fudge again, without Mark, Mark didn’t want to go to Japan. And then this manager we had booked some other gigs. We did Westbury, we had The Rascals with Felix Cavaliere open up for us. We had three thousand people going crazy over Vanilla Fudge. We just started playing gigs and kept it going.
Tim left and then Mark came back. Our manager now, Tom Vitorino, put a meeting together and said, “You got to have the original band.” And then we went on tour with The Doors at the time. It was when Ian Astbury from The Cult was the singer, Phil Chen was the bass player. Vanilla Fudge was direct support under that. And then we had Pat Travers, who was my friend from doing the Travers & Appice record and that’s really how it happened. We just kept going so it wasn’t really a breakup like I hate you. There were times where Mark Stein and us didn’t get along and it was lawsuits and stuff, but once Tom put it together all that stuff went away and we’ve been together since.
It’s always the business side that seems to mess it up, Right?
Yeah, but what really what messed it up was that second album. We never got to the potential where the band should have been. Every one of those bands that we toured with ended up being huge except us. Jefferson Airplane opened for us, Grateful Dead, The Moody Blues, Led Zeppelin, Spirit, everybody. Hendrix didn’t open up for us but we were direct support on there. Cream, we had an equal bill. The Who, we blew them off the stage in England.