(Read all about Vanilla Fudge after the videos)
Vanilla Fudge is an American rock band known predominantly for their extended rock arrangements of contemporary hit songs, most notably "You Keep Me Hangin' On". The band's original lineup—vocalist/organist Mark Stein, bassist/vocalist Tim Bogert, lead guitarist/vocalist Vince Martell, and drummer/vocalist Carmine Appice—recorded five albums during the years 1967–69, before disbanding in 1970. The band is currently touring with three of the four original members, Mark Stein, Vince Martell, and Carmine Appice with Pete Bremy on bass as Bogert retired in 2009. The band has been cited as "one of the few American links between psychedelia and what soon became heavy metal." Vanilla Fudge also is known to have influenced other major bands such as The Nice, Deep Purple, Yes, Styx, and Led Zeppelin.
Stein and Bogert had played in a local band called Rick Martin & The Showmen. The pair were so impressed by the swinging sound and floods of organ of The Rascals they decided to form their own band in 1965 with Martell and Rick Martin's drummer, Mark Dolfen, who was quickly replaced by Joey Brennan. Originally calling themselves The Electric Pigeons, they soon shortened the name to The Pigeons. In December 1966 Brennan moved on to The Younger Brothers Band and Bogert became very impressed with a young drummer named Carmine Appice he'd heard playing at the Headliner Club on 43rd Street in a cover band called Thursday's Children. Appice was asked to join The Pigeons and in his 2016 autobiography, Stick It!, Carmine explained the name change to "Vanilla Fudge": "In April 1967 the Pigeons got signed to Atlantic Records. But there was one drawback, however: Atlantic didn't want to sign "The Pigeons". Ahmet Ertegun, the label's founder and president, didn't like that name and told us we had to change it. We didn't mind, in fact, I had always thought the Pigeons was a weird thing to be called but had just gone with it. We tried to think up a new name but were getting nowhere until we played a gig at the Page 2 club on Long Island and ended up talking to a chick named Dee Dee who worked there. She told us how her grandfather used to call her Vanilla Fudge. Then she looked at us and added 'Maybe you guys should call yourselves that---you're like white soul music'. We liked it. We told our manager, Phil Basile. He liked it. We told Atlantic and they liked it, too. So Vanilla Fudge it was".
Vanilla Fudge was managed by the aforementioned reputed Lucchese crime family member Phillip Basile, who operated several popular clubs in New York. Their first three albums (Vanilla Fudge, The Beat Goes On, and Renaissance) were produced by Shadow Morton, whom the band met through The Rascals. When Led Zeppelin first toured the USA in early 1969, they opened for Vanilla Fudge on some shows.
The band's biggest hit was its cover of "You Keep Me Hangin' On," a slowed-down, hard rocking version of a song originally recorded by The Supremes. This version featured Stein's psychedelic-baroque organ intro and Appice's energetic drumming. It was a Top 10 hit in Canada, the US, and Australia and a Top 20 hit in the UK in 1967.
The members of Vanilla Fudge were great admirers of The Beatles, and covered several of their songs including "Ticket to Ride" and "Eleanor Rigby." The self-titled debut album quotes "Strawberry Fields Forever" at the end, with the line "there's nothing to get hung about."
According to Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord, Vanilla Fudge's organ-heavy sound was a large influence on the British band Deep Purple, with Blackmore even stating that his band wanted to be a "Vanilla Fudge clone" in its early years.
Breakup and reunions
On March 14, 1970, Vanilla Fudge played a farewell concert at the Phil Basile's Action House. After that, Bogert & Appice departed to go ahead with another group, Cactus, that they'd been planning since late 1969. In 1972 they left Cactus and formed Beck, Bogert & Appice with guitarist Jeff Beck. Stein, left on his own, tried to keep the group going with two new players, Sal D'Nofrio (bass) and Jimmy Galluzi (drums) (both of whom had been members of a Poughkeepsie, New York group known as 'The Dirty Elbows'). But when nothing came from this, Stein ended up forming a new group, Boomerang, instead with Galluzi.
A recording of the Pigeons was released in Germany in 1973 under the title of "While the World was Eating Vanilla Fudge."
Following the band's breakup in 1970, the band has reunited several times. In 1982, they reunited in support of the Atco Records release, Best of Vanilla Fudge. This resulted in another album of fresh material in 1984 called Mystery. Martell was not included in this initial reunion and Ron Mancuso played guitar on Mystery instead, along with Jeff Beck, who guested under the moniker "J. Toad". Two reunion tours followed in 1987/1988. with Paul Hanson on guitar. Lanny Cordola was guitarist when the band took the stage on May 14, 1988 for the Atlantic Records' 40th Anniversary Celebration. After that, the individual members went their separate ways once again to pursue other projects.
In 1991 Appice revived the Vanilla Fudge name for a tour with Ted Nugent's former band members Derek St. Holmes (guitar, vocals), Martin Gerschwitz (keyboards, vocals), and Tom Croucier (bass, vocals), which resulted in the album The Best of Vanilla Fudge – Live.
Three of the originals (Appice, Bogert, and Martell) reunited in 1999 with vocalist/organist Bill Pascali replacing Mark Stein to record a "greatest hits" album, Vanilla Fudge 2001/ The Return / Then And Now, with new recordings of previous songs and three new songs. 2002 had Pete Bremy and T.M. Stevens subbing on bass for an ill Bogert and 2003 saw a release of Vanilla Fudge's live album, The Real Deal – Vanilla Fudge Live, recorded on tour in 1987 with Paul Hanson on guitar. Martell overdubbed his guitar and vocals later. In 2003–2005, the group toured with Teddy Rondinelli standing in on guitar for Martell.
In 2005, all four original members Vanilla Fudge reunited for a tour with members of The Doors (touring as Riders On The Storm) and Steppenwolf, or in some areas The Yardbirds. Pascali returned in place of Stein for some 2005 and 2006 shows before leaving to join the New Rascals. On October 15, 2006, Vanilla Fudge was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame with Billy Joel, Joan Jett and producer Shadow Morton. Fellow Long Islander Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals inducted them.
In the summer of 2007 HBO's final episode of The Sopranos featured "You Keep Me Hangin' On" (with Pascali's lead vocals) as a theme for their cliff hanger. The band also went back into the studio to record Out Through the In Door, a Led Zeppelin cover album released in 2007 only in Europe. Also, the band (Stein & Martell with Steve Argy on bass and Jimmyjack Tamburo on drums) performed "You Keep Me Hangin' On" for the PBS fundraising program My Music: My Generation – The '60s for the March 2008 pledge drive.
In March 2008 the original lineup of Vanilla Fudge embarked on a tour of the United States (mostly in New England). But in the summer of that year, Bogert and Appice left to concentrate on Cactus, which they had reformed in 2006. Stein and Martell continued on in 2008 and 2009 as Mark Stein and Vince Martell of Vanilla Fudge with a tour that was called "Let's Pray For Peace," with Jimmyjack Tamburo on drums and Pete Bremy returning on bass. Out Through the In Door was released in the US in 2008. Stein and Martell also performed shows during this period with Steve Argy and Jimmyjack Tamburo again as the rhythm section.
In the fall of 2010, Tim Bogert announced his retirement from touring and was replaced by Pete Bremy. In the spring of 2011, Vanilla Fudge embarked on what was announced as their farewell tour. The lineup for the tour was: Carmine Appice, Mark Stein, Vince Martell and Pete Bremy (bass). On March 29, 2011, the band appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and performed "You Keep Me Hangin' On." This lineup has continued to tour since.
As of 2016, Vanilla Fudge is still performing concerts regularly.