One of the most influential rock drummers of all time (he’s said to have even been an influence on John Bonham), Carmine Appice made his name with ’60s psychedelic rockers Vanilla Fudge. With Fudge bassist Tim Bogert, he formed blues rockers Cactus, then the pair joined Jeff Beck in power trio Beck, Bogert and Appice.
In the ’70s, his career took a seemingly unlikely turn when – having joined Rod Stewart’s band, proceeded to pen one of Rod’s biggest hits, the disco-infused ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’, and played on Kiss guitarist Paul Stanley’s eponymous 1978 solo album. He’s also recorded with everyone from Ted Nugent to Stanley Clarke and Pink Floyd, and toured with Ozzy on his Bark At The Moon tour. He is also an influential drum educator, having published his best-selling drum book The Realistic Rock Drum Method back in 1972.
Vanilla Fudge (1967)
Vanilla Fudge’s debut album consists entirely of cover versions, in a psychedelic rock style that somehow works with the eclectic material on offer. Carmine’s drums bring a blustering heaviness to lazily trippy versions of The Beatles’ ‘Ticket To Ride’, Curtis Mayfield’s ‘People Get Ready’ has massive cymbal washes and thunderous fills giving the Fudge’s gospel rock treatment of the soul classic real pomposity. Other highlights include a drum-heavy version of Argent’s ‘She’s Not There’. It’s all Hammond organ jams and vocal harmonising, but Carmine’s drums –particularly on the Holland/Dozier/Holland classic ‘You Keep Me Hanging On’ are right up in the mix, encouraging a generation of rockers to hit harder.
Key track: ‘You Keep Me Hanging On’
Rock And Roll (1969)
This was the last album by the Fudge, and it’s a more solid collection of tunes than some of their more concepty previous albums; the Fudge-penned ‘Need Love’ rocks like a maniac, cementing Carmine’s reputation as a rock and roll drumming animal over the dancing bass, wailing guitar and wild Hammond.
A cover of the Carole King/Gerry Goffin penned ‘I Can’t Make It Alone’ is surprisingly restrained, but still has Carmine’s unique thunder behind it. ‘Windmills Of Your Mind’, famous for being used as the theme tune for the previous year’s Steve McQueen flick ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’ is given a rather gloomy psychedelic workover by the Fudge, with an uncharacteristically stripped back drum part from Carmine.
Key track: ‘Need Love’
Vanilla Fudge bandmates Bogert and Appice were all set to team up with Jeff Beck, but plans were scuppered when Beck fractured his skull in a car accident, and was out of music for a year. Instead, Cactus was conceived.
Joined by former Detroit Wheels guitarist Jimmy McCarty the band took a real bluesy direction, and would go on to influence countless stoner and desert rock groups. Original material such as ‘Let Me Swim’, with a drum groove so heavy you'd think it would sink, sat alongside a cover of Mose Allison’s ‘Parchman Farm’, where Carmine kicks things off with the mother of all lead-ins and his syncopated driving rhythms set the standard for all blues rock to come.
Key track: ‘Parchman Farm’
Beck, Bogert & Appice (1973)
Beck was already a household name, thanks to his work with the Jeff Beck Group and the Yardbirds, by the time he formed this hard rock supergroup with the Vanilla Fudge rhythm section.
Carmine gets hold of Stevie Wonder’s super-funk track ‘Superstition’ and forces it to bow to the god of rock, uncompromisingly thundering with an uncompromisingly hard rock – though extremely groovy –drum part. ‘Black Cat Moon’ is a pounding blues groove; on ‘Lady’, Bogert’s busy grooving bass spars with Beck’s guitar genius while Appice backs it with an almost latin ride-bell part over some fast kick drum magic, punctuating the jazz-like interplay with rhythmic stabs right on cue.
Key track: ‘Superstition’
Blondes Have More Fun (1978)
Rod the Mod’s ninth album took him to the top of the charts as he played up his own, big-haired glam rock playboy image to the max. Most surprising was the disco groove of ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’, co-penned by Appice, on which Carmine lays down an archetypal four-to-the-floor Bee Gees groove while an Abba-esque keyboard part playfully camps everything up.
Appice had joined Rod’s band the year before, and stayed with him for four albums, from ’77’s Footloose And Fancy Free to 1981’s Tonight I’m Yours, featuring another big Rod hit co-penned by Carmine, ‘Young Turks’. On Blondes…, Carmine lays down a rollocking shuffle for the title track, and a sweet Latin groove behind ‘Last Summer’. Appice returns to Holland/Dozier/Holland material, rocking up the Motown songwriters’ ‘Standing In The Shadows Of Love’ as only he can.
Key track: ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’