Carmine Appice is an American hard rock drummer. He, along with his psychedelic band Vanilla Fudge, established a groundbreaking trend in the 60's by taking hit songs of the time and extending them into mindblowing epics. His heavy style of drumming and his soaring vocals contributed to the success of the band. Vanilla Fudge had an amazing run with hit songs such as: "You Keep Me Hanging on" and "People Get Ready". They performed on the Ed Sullivan Show numerous times with great results. After five albums and many great performances, Carmine and "Fudge" bassist Tim Bogart changed things up and started the high energy band "Cactus". They teamed up with lead singer Rusty Day and guitarist Jim McCarty - they pumped out many albums and played tons of killer shows. Through the years, Carmine has performed and recorded with many major artists with the likes of: Rod Stewart, Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck, Paul Stanley and so many others. Carmine shares writing credits with Rod Stewart's smash hits, "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" and "Young Turks". Carmine shares his drumming talents by producing instructional videos and live drum clinics. He currently showcases his skills with his Brother Vinny (Black Sabbath and Dio) in a drum show called "Drum Wars". Carmine is the hardest working drummer in the business and is constantly working on new projects and performs all over the world. I recently caught up with Carmine.
R.V.B. - Hi Carmine. This is Rob von Bernewitz from Long Island, how are you?
C.A. - Good, how you doin' man.
R.V.B. - I'm doing good. Are you still working 24/7 on music? it sounds like you got something going on musical right now.
C.A. - Yeah, I'm working on a drum wars live CD at the Iridium.
R.V.B. - Oh very nice. I noticed you have a whole slew of live stuff coming out at this time.
C.A. - Yeah, it seems that my label is becoming more of a live label.
R.V.B. - I've seen you a couple of times back in the day. I guess the first time I saw you, you did an encore with Deep Purple at the Coliseum.
C.A. - Wow, that was a while ago.
R.V.B. - Do you remember that?
C.A. - Yeah, I do remember that.
R.V.B. - You played, "I'm Going Down". I think you and Ian Paice were playing simultaneously.
C.A. - I think so too. I think I brought my drums down that day.
R.V.B. - That was very cool. I also saw you at the North Stage Theater for a drum clinic.
C.A. - Yeah, that was from my drum-off thing. In Northport right?
R.V.B. - No that was Glen Cove.
C.A. - Oh, Glen Cove right.
R.V.B. - Yeah, that place doesn't stand anymore.
C.A. - Yeah, I'm sure hahaha
R.V.B. - So, are you back living in New York permanently?
C.A. - I'm here most of the time. My girlfriend is the "Radio Chick"
Leslie Gold. She lives in Manhattan and Connecticut and she hates L.A. - so I'm still an L.A. resident but I'm here most of the time. I go back and see my kids every four or five weeks, you know. Now I'll be here until September 17th, then I go back for a week and then I come back. I'm working at a studio in New Jersey called TKL Marketing Studio. We're finishing a Vanilla Fudge album here. We recorded my Rated X album here with Joe Lynn Turner and Tony Franklin. We did the drums and the vocals here.
R.V.B. - When is that one gonna be released?
C.A. - That's coming out November 11th I believe. I'm hoping today or tomorrow we get all the mixes.
R.V.B. - A lot of my friends will be picking that one up.
C.A. - It's gonna be a good record. It's sorta like Blue Murder with Joe Lynn Turner singing. All the Blue Murder fans are looking for something new from Blue Murder so this is a close we can get with two guys... two outta three.
R.V.B. - Obviously you have had a prolific career and have played with many, many musicians... congratulations.
C.A. - Thank you
R.V.B. - When Vanilla Fudge was hitting the scene and you were doing those extended versions of classic songs, did that come from jam sessions or did you have that planned all along?
C.A. - That idea had been explored by the Long Island bands at the time. Like the Vagrants but it really originated from The Rascals. The Vagrants were doing it... which had Leslie West in it at the time. We were doing what was going on, on Long Island at the time, which was called "Production Numbers". People were slowing things down and making them longer and more dramatic. We took it one step further and we went for the lyric content. We listened to lyrics and said, "Ok, well, what is this song saying lyrically? Let's put the musical mood to the lyrics". That's what we did. So with "You Keep Me Hanging On", the lyric was very hurtin' as we say. Anybody that was in that position would know, it's very hurtin'. When you're in a love situation and you don't know what the hell is going on... this chick's cheating on you, so you put yourself in that frame of mind. The original song sounded so freaken' happy. Hahaha you know? So we put the music to match the lyrics of "You Keep Me Hanging On". We did the same thing with "Eleanor Rigby". The lyrics are all about churches and graveyards and cemeteries and a lonely person. So we put the mood to match that. "People Get Ready" was sorta like a gospel churchy - thing. So we put the organ and the vocal and the gospel harmonies to it.
R.V.B. - It sounds like you were kind of painting a picture and creating a piece of artwork.
C.A. - Exactly... We painted a picture musically of what the lyrics are saying.
R.V.B. - That was a very innovative idea and obviously the producers and industry people thought it was a good enough idea to showcase you guys on the Ed Sullivan show.
C.A. - Yeah the Ed Sullivan show on the first time was interesting, because we were the first rock band or anybody to go on the Ed Sullivan show without a top ten single. Our album was a top ten but we never had a single at the time. So that was unique because we were the first band to break a top ten album without having a top ten single. The next year we did "Shotgun" because at the time "You Keep Me Hanging On" had come out and had become a hit single and it brought the album back up and at the same time we had a top fifteen album with a top twenty single "Shotgun". So we went back on and did "Shotgun" the second time.
R.V.B. - You were fairly young... was that a very exciting time for you?
C.A. - Oh my God, unbelievable. Not only exciting... everything was so virgin and new. We had done so many firsts. You know in rehearsal, when I had got the big drumset... I was the first one to pioneer with the big, oversize drums which changed all the marketing for the drum companies. I didn't know that at the time but I was doing what felt right, you know?
R.V.B. - Where did you meet Tim Bogart and the rest of the guys?
C.A. - Well, they met me. I was playing at the Choo Choo club in New Jersey when Mark and Timmy approached me to join The Pigeons. They were looking for a drummer who could technically play the kind of arrangements they wanted to do and hopefully who sang. I've been singing all my life... playing drums, singing lead. Singing in Doo Wop things in Brooklyn in subways so I was always singing and playing. To me it was like a life changing question "Do you want to join us?". I was doing fine playing with my friends. Making a good living on the weekends, four nights a week making pretty good money. I was seventeen and I bought my own 64 Chevy back in 1964. It was a 64 Chevy 327 Super Sport.
R.V.B. - Nice.
C.A. - I bought it myself from playing music. So I was doing ok but they said look "We are trying to make it... a record", and they have a manager that's gonna pay us a salary. So we can go do our arrangements. I didn't know what they were talking about. I went out to Long Island and they took me to see the Vagrants and then I got it. Then I played with these guys and said "Man, this Mark Stein... what a singer. He can sing his ass off". They all sang. The next thing I know, we're doing all these harmonies like doo wop groups. These guys are kick ass players too. You know, I never even played with a bass player before. I used to have a left hand organ bass all the time.
R.V.B - Well that was common at the time.
C.A. - Yeah and Tim was the first bass player that I played with at the time and he was awesome and I said "Man".
R.V.B. - I'll say
C.A. - So I decided to make the move and nine months later "Hanging On" was on the charts.
C.A. - No we did four. We did five, sorry.
R.V.B. - I see you went on to Cactus and you kept Tim with you. That music was straight ahead, in your face, hard core rock and roll which I really like.
C.A. - Yeah, me too.
R.V.B. - The live at B.B. Kings rocked from start to finish.
C.A. - Yeah, that's what the band does. The new one coming out "Live in Japan"... it's a DVD and I know there's another audio CD coming out. It's 2 CD's and a DVD, so it's a pretty cool package. This really rocks... I mean it kicks ass. The band, you know even at our age... even without Tim... you know Tim is retired and Rusty Day is dead but we got a guy... the guy that's singing on the one we just talked about. Jimmy Kunes, who was with Savoy Brown. He's an awesome, awesome singer and he sounds like Rusty a lot. He's even better. So you know, Cactus goes out and when we play, we rock. One time we did some gigs with Cactus and Vanilla Fudge. Tim still played in both bands. After Cactus played and we got off the stage Tim said "You know it's hard following us" hahaha
R.V.B. - Hahaha
C.A. - Yeah I know. Now we gotta go out with Vanilla Fudge after Cactus left the audience crazed.
R.V.B. - I mean speaking about playing with other people, I see that in your career... you actually jammed with Janis?
C.A. - Yeah, um hum over at "The Scene" in New York. We jammed with everybody.
R.V.B. - Name some people that you jammed with back in the day.
C.A. Yeah, we jammed with a lot of people... we jammed with Hendrix, we jammed with Stevie Winwood all down at the Scene... all together. It might be Jack Bruce on bass, Jimi Hendrix on guitar... Stevie Winwood on keyboards. Janis would sit in.
C.A. - They're not lineup's, they're just jams
R.V.B. - I understand but it's still mixing it up with rock royalty, which you are a part of.
C.A. - At the time it wasn't rock royalty. Everybody was just coming up. Stevie Winwood was with Traffic, you know Eric Clapton was with the Cream... they were just coming up. Janis Joplin was with Big Brother. She wasn't solo yet. So it was all different then.
R.V.B. - That club was a happening club, huh?
C.A. - It was a great club yeah. The Rascals used to go down there. I used to see Gene Cournish down there. He had this white Jaguar and I told him, I said look "When you're ready to sell that, you let me know.". He let me know in 1970 and I bought it and I had it for forty years. I just got rid of it.
R.V.B. - Gene is a friend of mine. I played out with him a few times.
C.A. - He's a beautiful man.
R.V.B. - And he's a riot also.
C.A. - He's funny as shit.
R.V.B. - Yeah he is funny.
R.V.B. - So tell me about the Jeff Beck sessions. Was it fun doing that album?
C.A. Well it was fun doing the album but working with Jeff Beck was a little difficult. He's a difficult guy to work with, you know. He's never happy. One time we were on a tour and he'd wake up one morning and he went home. We had a sold out tour and it was like, you know NOT GOOD.
R.V.B. - Kind of a moody guy?
C.A. - Yeah, kinda moody and weird.
R.V.B. - Now did that have anything with you hooking up with Rod Stewart?
C.A. - No. The Rod Stewart thing happened by accident. Basically a friend of mine Sandy Gennaro... I don't know if you know him? Do you know that name?
C.A. Sandy played with Cindy Lauper and plays with Pat Travers. He did play with Pat and now he's playing with him again. He lives in L.A. and he's a friend of mine. I just ran into him somewhere, you know. I said to him "What are you doing?" He said to me "I just came from an audition with Rod Stewart". I said "Did you get the gig?" and he said "No... they just went through twenty five drummers". I said "You're kidding me". He said "You should call him man, you know Rod". So I did, I called Pete Buckland who was Rod's tour manager. Sandy gave me the number and he called me back. My words were "Rod needs a drummer and you don't call me?". He said "You're always busy". I said "Oh I'm not busy, I would love to play with Rod. We did a lot of shows with Cactus and the Faces and all of that, you know?
R.V.B. - Is that where you originally met Rod?
C.A. - No I met Rod originally from the Jeff Beck Group and him and Ronnie Wood came down to a recording session of ours... Vanilla Fudge when they were just starting out and they were very young, introverted, reserved English guys. They came down just to watch us record because they loved Vanilla Fudge, you know? Rod always loved "You Keep Me Hanging On". They came down to the studio and sat in the corner and you wouldn't even know they were there. We were showing porno movies on the wall. Hahaha
R.V.B. - You know I hear some Vanilla Fudge influence in some of Rod's early music.
C.A. - Yeah definitely. He loved that version of "You Keep Me Hanging On" so much, he said " I wish I would have done it". I said "Why don't you do it? You could do it. I'm in the band with you now". So we did it. He sang the shit out of it.
R.V.B. - Nice... I see that you also got involved with writing some stuff with him.
C.A. - Yeah, I wrote "Do you Think I'm Sexy, Young Turks". You know my stamp is all over "Hot Legs" and "Passion". I didn't have to change my style much to join with them. Obviously I got the gig and I was with them for six tears. It was wonderful.
R.V.B. - Yeah, that was a good run. I noticed that you could switch genres pretty easily, like I see you played with Stanley Clark. Did you have to make any adjustments?
C.A. - Not really. I often explain this in clinics... all the people I've played with, I basically kept the same style in drumming. I was into Jazz/Rock. My Jazz/Rock was more Rock/Jazz because it was a heavier drum sound. I actually got a call from Jeff Beck that night. He said "What are you doing" and I said "Nothing, why?". He said "I'm in town... why don't you come to the studio. I'm here with Stanley. I want you to play on a track with him". I said "Really?, I don't have any drums. My roadie's out of town and my drums are at S.I.R". He goes "Do you have any drums at home?" and I go "Yeah, I got a little drumset". He goes "Just bring it... throw it in the car and bring it out". So I did. I threw a little drumset in the car and I went down to the studio. I didn't get pad for this session. That's what we used to do in those days. It wasn't all about money.
C.A. - Yeah I just got done with my "Guitar Zeus" record. Richie Sambora and Brian May didn't charge me anything.
R.V.B. - Yeah, that was a good album full of guitar players.
C.A. - Yeah, I had so much fun doing it. It's still selling. It was a great idea and a great project. I'm meeting with a label in a couple of weeks. They're thinking of doing another version because it was really a cool project. So I got to work and produce all these guys, you know? It was really a feather on my cap for my production credit.
R.V.B. - Right, was it fun touring with Ozzy?
C.A. - Well it was great until Sharon fired me. Hahaha.
R.V.B. - You don't seem to be the first one.
C.A. - Um I was one of the first ones actually. Not really Tommy Aldridge was the first one and then they brought me in. I'm not on the "Bark at the Moon" album. I'm on the video... but I'm on the album as an associate producer, which was fine with me. I wanted to get more into production more anyway. After they fired me... after the first 500,000 they took my name off of the album. Ozzy was a nice guy. I have known Ozzy... we did our first show in 1970 with Cactus and Black Sabbath. Our opening act was Bruce Springsteen.
R.V.B. - Oh really?
C.A. - Is that crazy or fucking what.
R.V.B. - Do you remember where that show was?
C.A. - Yeah it was at Sunshine Inn in Asbury Park New Jersey.
R.V.B. - Oh Ok.
C.A. - So I've known Ozzy from there and we got along great. Even after she fired me and she told me my name was too big. There'd be like friends of mine. I told her when I come to America, I do master classes in each market. I get a lot of press for that. I donate money to UNICEF, I get a lot of press. I get press on MTY, blah blah blah and she said "Ok". But when it actually came down to it and she started seeing press on the road... you know full page stories about me and about me being on the tour in the newspapers and news clips on the television. Like on MTV with J.J. Jackson saying "Here's the Ozzy Osbourne tour with drummer Carmine Appice". She didn't like it. She fired me... she said "Your name is too big. We need more of a side man" like Tommy Aldridge... she fired me and took Tommy right in. I sued them and I won a settlement but that's not what I wanted. I wanted to be with Ozzy. I wanted to create music, help produce and get great killer drum sounds on his record and be involved in it like I was with Rod. With Rod, I got Andy Johns in as an engineer because I knew Andy got killer drum sounds. I knew we'd get great drum sounds. I was involved in helping create the sound that we had for the band. That's what I wanted to do with Ozzy but you know Sharon just wouldn't let me do it.
R.V.B. - Right and I see on another part of your resume that you worked with Pink Floyd on a track.
C.A. - Yeah, I worked on "Dogs of War" on Momentary Lapse of Reason. That just really came in to a phone call from Bob Ezrin. He said "I have a track that's screaming for Carmine drum fills. I'm working on an album for a band". I said "What's the band?". He said "Pink Floyd". I said "Pink Floyd, what happened to Nick?". You know, we were friends. He said "Nick has been racing his cars and he's a little out of practice. We need to get some new blood in there". So I went down there and did it. The pay was ok but the press I got and the notoriety I got was amazing.
R.V.B. - Yeah, that's a nice notch in the belt.
C.A. - Yeah especially the track has a lot of fills in it. It's not just like a straight ahead Pink Floyd song. It has a lot of drumming on it.
R.V.B. - Right, which is unusual because a lot of Pink Floyd songs are laid back.
C.A. - Yeah, you could have like a drum machine. It could be the same thing.
R.V.B. - You played with KGB. Now that was with Mike Bloomfield?
C.A. - Yeah, Um hum.
R.V.B. - Did you do a lot of blues?
C.A. - No it wasn't a lot of blues. It was sorta like a rock album. He wasn't really into it. He ruined the whole band actually. There was a story in the L.A. Times saying he wouldn't be there if it wasn't for the big management. No way would he ever play with me and Rick Gretch. Hahaha. This big management company put it together. It's ridicules. He put us down and put the band down so we immediately fired him. That was my interim between the BBA days and Rod Stewart.
C.A. - I did UNICEF The Children of the world for a long time. I would donate monies. I gave them about $50,000 in monies from clinics and events that I sponsored. I did them for a long time and then in the 2000's I started working with Little Kids Rock. I've done other charities... I just donated to a canine fund in L.A. with Bobby Kimball from Toto. If I'm around and there's a charity event going on, I'll gladly donate my time to play for it.
R.V.B. - That's very nice of you. It goes a long way and people don't forget that stuff.
C.A. - We did a single last year with Dick Wagner unfortunately may he rest in peace. Dick wrote the song and produced it. I was on it and it was for Saint. Jude Hospital and that was awesome. It felt good to do that... for the kids. You do that just to give back to the community and give back to humanity.
R.V.B. - I'm sure it makes you feel good. Another unusual thing that you did recently was play at Rikers Island.
C.A. - Yeah, that was crazy. I got a little bit of anxiety because they started shutting the jail doors... you go through two or three of those and you're in. There's no windows. The windows are way up high and very small. All the doors have steel locks on them... it's crazy. I had a lot of anxiety until we actually got into the gym where there was a drumset and I started relaxing a little bit. It was pretty wild. We did that in the day and at night we did the Iridium... Drum Wars... Me and my brother. Me and Vinny did it. It was like the Beatles were there. We did the female division. It was like a hundred women and twelve guards. They actually went crazy. Some of the girls joined us. They were taking lessons on hand drums. This was a NAMM sponsored event. These people were going in there once a week, teaching these girls how to play hand drums. The event was a concert of them playing and they invited me and Vinny to come and play with them so that was what it was. We also had a guy from Rolling Stone.com. The Washington Post was with us. They said "Look, we'll give you a lot of press". Yeah, we'll go do that. I love doing interesting things. I'm going to China with my Rod group... my Rod show. "The Rod Experience" which has members of the Rod band in it... an all-star band doing all the songs that we never play anymore. You know, and a guy that looks and sounds like Rod. We're going to China and I've never been there.
R.V.B. - We'll you're very active and you're producing a lot of great music. It's coming out in droves. It's all great stuff. You always seem to be playing a lot where people can always go out and see you. I forgot to ask you one question. What started you to play the drums. Why did you become a drummer?
C.A. - My cousin always had a drumset and I'd always bang on his drums and I'd come home and bang on the pots and pans. My parents would get me toy drumsets and I'd play them and break them. Finally they thought "Let's get him a real drumset". My birthday was near Christmas so one Christmas we went to the original Sam Ash store in Brooklyn and bought a $50 dollar drumset... that was a real drumset and I kept playing it and that was it.
R.V.B. - Well congratulations on your great career and thank you for taking this time to talk with me.
C.A. - Ok man, you got it. Bye Bye.
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
This interview may not be reproduced in any part or form.
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