Vanilla Fudge drummer Carmine Appice’s unlikely connection with Fred Astaire and Gregory Peck

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In the first two parts of this series of interviews with drummer Carmine Appice, we chatted about his many stick friends including Ginger Baker, Keith Moon, John Bonham – the guys on A-list. Appice’s stories are fascinating. , a real rock story. Here, we deviate a bit from the big Hollywood screen. We discuss a musician, John Lennon, but also dancer Fred Astaire and actor Gregory Peck. Appice also tells us what he would like his legacy to be. Here are edited excerpts from a longer conversation.

Jim Clash: Why did Vanilla Fudge cover the Supremes’ big hit, “You Keep Me Hanging On?”

Appice carmine: At the time, they were doing what we called “production numbers” in New York, or slowed down versions of hit songs. What we did was do a slowed down version of it, then match the music to the lyrics. “You Keep Me Hanging On” had “hurtful lyrics,” all about relationships gone bad. Anyone who’s been in a relationship gone bad knows it hurts emotionally. When The Supremes did the song, the music was happy and upbeat. But the lyrics weren’t. We have changed that. When we later covered “Eleanor Rigby”, we also adapted the story to the mood of the music – very weird, religious, spiritual, in a demonic way.

Shock: You have met and played with amazing people. Give me an anecdote or two from your memoir, “Stick It !: My Life Of Sex, Drums, And Rock ‘N’ Roll.”

Appendix: When my brother Vinny was at Record Plant clapping his hands on “Whatever Gets You Through The Night”, he became friends with John Lennon. He told John after the session, “My mom makes great Italian food. Do you like Italian? John said, yeah, so Vinny asked my mom to make him lasagna. Vinny gave it to him and never heard anything back. Well, I played at Madison Square Garden with Rod Stewart a few months later, five nights in 1979. John was at a concert and came to the after party, as were my parents. When my mom saw John, she asked him if he liked his lasagna. He said he loved it, that it was delicious. So my mother looked at him and asked him, “Can I get my pan, please?” »Classical history [laughs].

Here is another one. I have a letter hanging in my studio, from Fred Astaire. I met Fred at our concert at the West Coast Forum. When Rod [Stewart] had married, Grease producer Allan Carr threw a party for Rod at Allan’s mansion in Beverly Hills. I’m at the party and I see, out of the corner of my right eye, someone approaching, very tall. It’s Grégory Peck! He grabbed my hand, said it was Gregory. I said, “I know who you are. My mother would die if she was here. Anyway we started talking and he said when Fred Astaire saw me doing my drum solo at the concert Fred said it was the best solo he had seen since Gene Krupa . So I think Fred Astaire said that, and Gregory Peck is telling me about it. Wow, let me pinch myself. Then Greg told me that Fred was a drummer, which I didn’t know, that Fred had always wanted to play rock drums, but had no idea. I told Greg I had a book called “Ultimate Realistic Rock Drum Method” which teaches rock drums. I said I could get him one to give to Fred. He said that would be great, and that the next time I was at Rod’s – he lived next door to Gregory – knock on his door and he would give it to Fred. I said, “Okay Greg [laughs]. So I signed the book, “Dear Fred, I hope this helps you learn to play rock drums. Love, Carmine Appice. Two weeks later I get an envelope, tear it up, and I ruin, of course. The letter inside reads: “Thank you, Carmine Appice, for this beautiful inscription. I have enjoyed your work many times. You are really wonderful. My love, Fred Astaire. I almost m “Pass out. Show you that anything can happen, even to a kid in Brooklyn.”

Shock: What would your heritage be?

Appendix: That I was a drummer trying to lead and trying new things. I first had big drums – the loud drums, the extended bass drum – which started the fashion for Ludwig’s big drums. I had a wah-wah on my snare drum. I just want us to remember a guy who was experimental, who helped spread the word about drums, as my idol, Gene Krupa.

MORE TUSENCarmine Appice shares her thoughts on other great drummers including John Bonham, Ginger Baker

MORE TUSENRock drummer Carmine Appice on Jeff Beck, Keith Moon, Ed Sheeran, RRHOF

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