Friday, January 24, 2014

If Elvis Presley Played 'Swamp Rock' He’d Be Tony Joe White –Interview

By Ray Shasho

-An Interview with Tony Joe White “Polk Salad Annie” legendary singer and songwriter   

Raised on a cotton farm in Goodwill, Louisiana and sneaking his daddy’s guitar at night to play the blues, Tony Joe White is a true America icon. White’s passion for the blues became apparent at the age of fifteen after hearing an album by legendary country blues guitarist, singer and songwriter Lightnin’ Hopkins.

Tony Joe performed onstage playing mainly Elvis Presley and John Lee Hooker cover tunes. After hearing “Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry on the radio, White had an epiphany and realized that he should be writing songs about things he knew. His first big hit “Polk Salad Annie” was released from his debut album entitled Black and White on the Monument Records label. The 1969 single peaked at #8 on Billboards’ Hot 100 and was successfully covered by Elvis Presley and Tom Jones.

In 1970, a song Tony Joe White had penned entitled “Rainy Night in Georgia” was covered by R&B singer Brook Benton. The song reached #4 on the Billboard charts.
Tony Joe White toured worldwide in the 70’s supporting legendary rock heavyweights Steppenwolf, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Sly & the Family Stone to name just a few.

White also composed various tracks on Tina Turner’s Foreign Affair (1989) album including “Undercover Agent for the Blues” (1989) co-penned with his wife Leann White and “Steamy Windows.” White also played guitar, harmonica and synthesizer on the album. Turner’s manager Roger Davies also became Tony Joe White’s manager while signing with Polydor Records.

White’s popularity soared in the 90’s with the release of the critically-acclaimed and commercially successful Closer to the Truth album. White attained additional success with subsequent releases … The Path of a Decent Groove and Lake Placid Blues. Tony Joe White toured Europe with Joe Cocker and Eric Clapton. He also opened for Roger Waters in 2006.

His Uncovered (2006) album on Swamp Records featured guest appearances by Eric Clapton, J.J. Cale, Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits), Michael McDonald (Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers) and Waylon Jennings.

Tony Joe White’s most recent release is entitled Hoodoo (2013). The album spawns a brilliant array of swamp rock, blues and boogie with a hint of psychedelic overtones. I gave Hoodoo (5) stars. My favorite tracks are … Who You Gonna Hoodoo Now?“Holed Up” a tune about the gratification of solitude, “Alligator Mississippi,” and a mystical track co-penned with wife Leann entitled Gypsy Epilogue.” The album is superbly produced by his son Jody White.

Tony Joe White is a rare gem in today’s ambiguous music world. He’s an original and could easily be described as a cult hero. White will be performing various southern dates beginning February 12th in Birmingham, Alabama.

I had the rare pleasure of chatting with Tony Joe White recently about Hoodoo his latest album, The inception of “Polk Salad Annie” and “Rainy Night in Georgia,” his friendship with Elvis Presley, and of course my notorious ‘Field of Dreams’ question.

Here’s my interview with legendary singer, songwriter, guitarist and swamp rock and blues icon… TONY JOE WHITE.

Ray Shasho: Tony Joe …how’s it going man?
Tony Joe White: “Good man, how are you doing this morning?”
Ray Shasho: Are you in Nashville?
Tony Joe White: “I live by the river in a little town about forty miles out called Leipers Fork.”
Ray Shasho: Did you grow up in Oak Grove or Goodwill, Louisiana?
Tony Joe White: “I grew up in Goodwill, Louisiana. It really wasn’t even a town; it was a church, a cotton gin, a grocery store, and then farms all around there down to the swamp. Oak Grove was about fifteen miles away.”
Ray Shasho: What was it like growing up in Goodwill?
Tony Joe White: “Well, we really never did see any town at all because there was the cotton fields, the swamp, the river, and we worked to pick cotton and worked the fields back in there. If you wanted to go to town you waited till Saturday and rode with somebody fifteen –twenty miles.”
Ray Shasho: Is that part of Louisiana considered Cajun country?
Tony Joe White: “Goodwill is up in the northeast end of Louisiana about twelve miles from Arkansas. When you head on down south like Baton Rouge or Lafayette, right there is where the line changes, and the food, the language, and the music is totally different.”
Ray Shasho: Who were some of the influences that triggered you into becoming a professional musician?
Tony Joe White: “Down on the cotton farm there was my mom and dad, my older brother, and then there was five sisters in between us, and I was the youngest. Everybody played guitar or piano and sang. But I would just listen back in those days. Then one day I was about fifteen and my brother brought home an album by Lightnin’ Hopkins. I heard that and boom, turned it around man. I started sneaking my dad’s guitar into my bedroom at night and learned the blues licks. I was into Lightnin’, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and then all of a sudden Elvis pops up about that time. We had house parties with all the kids from the Bayou and the blues is all we played.”
Ray Shasho: Did you get to play with some of the early blues legends like John Lee Hooker?
Tony Joe White: “John Lee a little bit back in the dressing room, but I did a whole album with Lightnin’ Hopkins. I played guitar and harmonica on an album called California Mudslide. It was just me and him … he was always a hero.”
Ray Shasho: You’ve been fortunate to play with some distinguished players and artists over the years like …Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker and J.J. Cale to name just a few.
Tony Joe White: “Through the writing and my songs over the years and I’d get to go with them into the studio and play guitar or harp… from Elvis to Joe and artists all over the world, I was really lucky with the songs.”
Ray Shasho: You got to know Elvis Presley?
Tony Joe White: “Yea. His producer was a friend of mine here in Nashville and also my publisher. He called us and said hey we’re getting ready to do “Polk Salad Annie” live in Las Vegas and we want to send a plane down to Memphis and pick you and your wife up and bring you to Vegas and watch us record it. So we sat out there for a week and listened to the show every night and hung out in the dressing room. It was so cool man; it was just like me and you talkin’ right now. Later on at Stax Records in Memphis they did a couple more of my songs down there. So we got to hang out a few times. Elvis always treated me really good.”
Ray Shasho: If Elvis only sang the blues, he would be Tony Joe White. There were definite similarities between you and him.
(All Laughing)
Tony Joe White: “Back in that dressing room in Las Vegas, Elvis had an old acoustic guitar. Every night he’d get it and say okay show me another lick. So I’d show him a couple of blues runs and I thought by the end of the week he was going to have it down where he’d know a few licks but he’d forget them each night. But he didn’t have to play.”
Ray Shasho: I always wondered how proficient Elvis was on the guitar.
Tony Joe White: “He only knew a few chords and hung it around his neck because it looked good. He could make a few chords but he really loved the blues licks.”
Ray Shasho: Your first album entitled Black and White had several musicians that had also played with Elvis?
Tony Joe White: “I think the drummer had played with Elvis and the keyboard player played some with him. Most of the boys were living in Nashville and trying to make a living playing country music. So when I came into town and had a little bit of blues hangin’ off of me, it gave them the chance to really go at it in the studio. We had some really good first takes …everything.”
Ray Shasho: Tony Joe, I’m going to include a review of your latest album entitled Hoodoo with this interview in my column. It’s a very original and refreshing sound and I’m giving it (5) stars. Just a great album!
Tony Joe White:It’s funny, across the world …England, Australia and everywhere, I’ve seen more excitement and good reviews on this album since “Polk Salad Annie” and Closer to the Truth. People are really jumping on this album for some reason. People from the press and magazines say the sound on the album is like you guys just walked in, plugged up and started playing, and didn’t think much about it. And I said that’s exactly the way it went down.”
Ray Shasho: A lot of blues albums, especially today, are comprised of classic cover tracks … but you’re an original.
Tony Joe White: “Swamp rock is what most called it in the early days, which is blues that you can dance to. I never really went in for …My baby left me Monday morning…I always liked to try and write something that would make you want to boogie a little bit. We left so much breathing room in the album. Jody my son who produced the album has been listening to me since he was five, so he knew exactly where to leave stuff out and just let it breathe. ”
Ray Shasho: My very favorite tracks on Hoodoo are “ Who You Gonna Hoodoo Now?” and “Holed Up.”
Tony Joe White: “Holed Up” is the catalyst on how we all want to get sometimes man. Get yourself a little trailer house and back it up to a river and stay there. J.J. Cale used to do that. They had an airstream and he was kind of a hermit type guy anyway. J.J. stayed holed up a lot of times.”
Ray Shasho: I sensed several psychedelic riffs on certain tracks on the album.
Tony Joe White:I’m still using the original Wah peddle which I call a ‘Whomper’ that I did on “Polk Salad Annie.” I bought a Tone Bender back in 1968 which is kind of an old fuzz box made in England. So I’m still using those two pieces and that’s where you’re getting that psychedelic feel like the hippie days.”
Ray Shasho: The track “Alligator Mississippi” had an interesting story behind it.
Tony Joe White: Highway 61 out of Memphis, which is according to everybody the old blues road, which the people we’ve been talking about all played up and down that road. “Alligator Mississippi” is just outside Clarksdale and is nothing but a big ole grocery store on the side of the road where a lot of people just hang out in the parking lot, drink, smoke, gamble and everything. It’s just a meeting place in a totally black community. But if you needed to stop there late at night you’d better do your business and get on out.”
Ray Shasho: You collaborated on the track “Gypsy Epilogue"a sort of mystical tune with your wife Leann?
Tony Joe White: “Leann and I write about two or three songs a year together and they’re usually really powerful songs. She did “Undercover Agent for the Blues” (Tina Turner) and Leann wrote most of all that and I put music to it. To me “Gypsy Epilogue” was one of the most mysterious songs on the album. I told her when I first saw the first verse written down … “A gathering of spirits, a scattering of souls …we all are born naked and some will grow old” … I said man where are you headed with this? So we worked on it for awhile and I got the guitar, got the chorus going and then she finished the last part … “No one can see but they hear the dogs bark.” Dogs can see spirits, so anyway she ended it with chill bumps.”
“As a matter of fact, I’m getting ready to go into the studio as soon as we’re done talking and mix two songs that Leann and I just finished. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed.”
Ray Shasho: Will those songs be part of the next album?
Tony Joe White: “Yes probably so, I hadn’t really planned on a next one or anything, songs just pop up with us and I’m lucky enough to have a studio that I can just go in anytime I want and call my drummer or bass player and have freedom with it. We do most of the songs on a first take and sometimes I would just sing and play to my drummer or bass player, maybe thirty seconds of the song, and then I’d say okay we’re going to hit record so just play what comes out of your heart.”
Ray Shasho: Both Elvis Presley and Tom Jones recorded your song “Polk Salad Annie.” Which version do you like best?
(All Laughing)
Tony Joe White: “I’ve got to say, I love Elvis’ version of it because watching him do it live every night …it really shook him up. Man, he would catch fire. He told me that he felt like he wrote the song. I said… well, you probably ate a lot of Polk growing up. But it set him on fire man.”
Ray Shasho: When you think of Elvis’ musical repertoire, “Polk Salad Annie” was always an important song on his setlist.
Tony Joe White: “I know … it was the first song that I got cut by someday else from my first album. Brook Benton did “Rainy Night in Georgia” and they sent me a copy in the mail on a 45rpm and I played it around fifty times in a row. I couldn’t quit listening to it and how someone else could grab your words, interpret it, and just make you feel the whole thing. So after hearing Brook I learned how to sing it myself.”
Ray Shasho: “Rainy Night in Georgia” is such a beautiful song, what’s the origin behind it?
Tony Joe White: “When I got out of high school I went to Marietta, Georgia, I had a sister living there. I went down there to get a job and I was playing guitar too at the house and stuff. I drove a dump truck for the highway department and when it would rain you didn’t have to go to work. You could stay home and play your guitar and hangout all night. So those thoughts came back to me when I moved on to Texas about three months later. I heard “Ode to Billie Joe” on the radio and I thought, man, how real, because I am Billie Joe, I know that life. I’ve been in the cotton fields. So I thought if I ever tried to write, I’m going to write about something I know about. At that time I was doing a lot of Elvis and John Lee Hooker onstage with my drummer. No original songs and I hadn’t really thought about it. But after I heard Bobbie Gentry I sat down and thought … well I know about Polk because I had ate a bunch of it and I knew about rainy nights because I spent a lot of rainy nights in Marietta, Georgia. So I was real lucky with my first tries to write something that was not only real but hit pretty close to the bone, and lasted that long. So it was kind of a guide for me then on through life to always try to write what I know about.”
Ray Shasho: Tony Joe, my favorite version of “Polk Salad Annie” is yours. It’s one of those classic late 60’s hits that helped define the decade.
Tony Joe White: “They’re still playing it somewhere and when I hear it I always turn it up like it’s the first time. All of a sudden in the midst of what was happening music wise on the radio, ole “Polk” stuck out like a sore thumb. But then it stuck out in the right way.”
Ray Shasho: Tony Joe, here’s a question that I ask everyone that I interview. If you had a ‘Field of Dreams’ wish like the movie, to play, sing or collaborate with anyone from the past or present, who would that be?
Tony Joe White: Man, I’ve just about covered them all. But I’d say Sade. I’ve loved her music for so long and we’ve had the same manager. Roger Davies managed Tina Turner, Sade, me, Joe Cocker …and so we’ve seen each other a good bit. I’ve told her that we’ve got to hook up one day and she said that she loved my guitar and we’ve got to do it. We’ve talked about it for about seven years and so far we haven’t done it yet … but still maybe.”
Ray Shasho: Any tour dates coming up?
Tony Joe White: “We’ll be going out in February but I think most of the dates are in the south. I’m sure we’ll be back in Europe or Australia in April. I always like to go back to Australia especially because the people over there remind me of early Louisiana or Texas days on a Saturday night. Either way it’s good to play in America for awhile.”
Ray Shasho: Tony Joe, thank you for being on the call today but more importantly for all the incredible music you’ve given us and continue to bring.
Tony Joe White: “Thank you for calling Ray …take care man!”

Tony Joe White official website
Tony Joe White tour dates
Purchase Tony Joe White’s latest release Hoodoo at
Tony Joe White on Facebook
Tony Joe White on Twitter
Tony Joe White on Myspace

Very special thanks to Jody White

Coming up NEXT…My interview with Geoff Downes legendary keyboardist and songwriter for The Buggles, Asia and YES

Contact classic rock music journalist Ray Shasho at

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“Check the Gs is just a really cool story ... and it’s real. I’d like to see the kid on the front cover telling his story in a motion picture, TV sitcom or animated series. The characters in the story definitely jump out of the book and come to life. Very funny and scary moments throughout the story and I just love the way Ray timeline’s historical events during his lifetime. Ray’s love of rock music was evident throughout the book and it generates extra enthusiasm when I read his on-line classic rock music column on It’s a wonderful read for everyone!”

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Carmine Appice Interview: The Legendary Drummer Keeps ‘Rock’ Hangin’ On

 By Ray Shasho

Brooklyn native Carmine Appice has attained one of the most illustrious rock resumes in music history. The accomplished drummer, singer, and songwriter continues to tour as a key member with classic rock legends Vanilla Fudge and Cactus. Appice will also be touring in 2014 with The Rod Experience, a historical tribute to Rod Stewart and his band featuring original members Phil Chen, Jimmy Crespo, and Danny Johnson. The band also features Rick St. James and Alan St. John. Carmine Appice joined Rod Stewart’s band in 1977 and co-wrote the mega hit “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” and “Young Turks.”

Appice is also a member of the new supergroup Legacy X which features Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Deep Purple) on lead vocals, Jeff Watson (Night Ranger) on guitar and Tony Franklin (The Firm, Blue Murder) on bass. A debut album is planned for release sometime in the spring this year.

Before John Bonham and Ian Paice …there was Carmine Appice. Since the mid 60’s, Carmine Appice has been respected as one of the greatest rock drummers in the world, and it’s not to ask what legendary musicians has Appice collaborated with over the years … it’s more like, what legendary musicians hasn’t Appice collaborated with over the years. The list would definitely be minuscule.

In 1972, Appice joined forces with guitar legend Jeff Beck (The Yardbirds) and Tim Bogert (Vanilla Fudge, Cactus) to form the internationally renowned Beck, Bogert & Appice.

In 1975, Appice joined KGB featuring Mike Bloomfield (Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Electric Flag) and Ric Grech (Family, Blind Faith, Traffic).

In 1983, he toured with Ozzy Osbourne to promote the Bark at the Moon release. After his stint with Ozzy, Appice formed the hard rock group King Kobra.

In 1988, Appice became a member of Blue Murder. The group featured various group members including John Sykes (Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake) and Tony Franklin (Roy Harper, The Firm).
Appice has also collaborated with the likes of … Pink Floyd, Ted Nugent, Pat Travers, Stanley Clarke and Michael Schenker … to name just a few.

Carmine’s younger brother is drummer Vinny Appice (Dio, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, Rick Derringer). The brothers occasionally tour together billed as Drum Wars -The World’s Premiere Rock Drum Show!

Carmine Appice recently launched a new record label called Rocker Records. The labels first four digital offerings included two releases from Cactus, Live in Japan and Live in the USA, Bogert/Appice & Friends, and TNA featuring Appice with guitar hero Pat Travers live in Europe. Visit Rocker Records at

Carmine also has an exciting new book project, his autobiography entitled Stick It! -Encounters with Rock Legends that should be released sometime this year.

I had the great pleasure of chatting with Carmine Appice recently about Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, The Rod Experience, Legacy X, Rocker Records, the new book, playing with Pink Floyd, and the inception of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.”

Here’s my interview with legendary drummer, singer, songwriter, and music pioneer … CARMINE APPICE.
Ray Shasho: Hello Carmine, how’s it going man?
Carmine Appice: “Hi Ray! It’s cold up here around the New York area but besides that it’s going pretty good.”
Ray Shasho: You know most of my family was from Bensonhurst.
Carmine Appice: “Oh really… that’s not too far from where I grew up.”
Ray Shasho: We’ve all seen the music industry deteriorate over the last twenty years or so. And just when I was about to give up all hope … legendary musician Carmine Appice creates his own record label?
Carmine Appice:It’s a funny time to start a label …what people have been telling me. I know where the business is, we’re not out to sell millions of records, we’re just out to put out some cool product.”
Ray Shasho: Will the new label (Rocker Records) be actively searching for new talent to sign?
Carmine Appice: “A little of both. We’ve got these four releases including two releases from Cactus Live in Japan and Live in the USA, then there’s Bogert/Appice & Friends, TNA featuring Pat Travers live in Europe, and then the next batch is going to be a new Cactus record, Vanilla Fudge Live at B.B. Kings, a Cactus Live DVD from Japan, a group called The Lizards with the harmonica player from Cactus… and his band includes Bobby Rondinelli and they have Glen Hughes and Frank Marino as guests. Then my brother has a band with Carlos Cavazo and different members like Jimmy Bain of Dio … so we’re going to release that I think. Then also we have this new guitar player that is going on tour and opening up for Michael Schenker. So it depends … if we’re going to do new artists they have to be on the road, otherwise you can never sell anything.”
Ray Shasho: Carmine, you still continue to tour with both Vanilla Fudge and Cactus?
Carmine Appice: “Yes and I’m also doing a couple of new things …“The Rod Experience” which is going to be a historical show about Rod Stewart and the band from 1976 to 82. And then as a new band with Joe Lynn Turner, Tony Franklin, and Jeff Watson from Night Ranger called Legacy X. That’s on Frontier Records and they actually put it together. It’s like a supergroup for them and supposedly put a lot of money behind it. Joe and I actually started putting it together and originally it was going to be Rudy Sarzo or Pat Travers and we had Bruce Kulick from Kiss in there for a minute. But we were all looking for a little more commitment which was hard for me to give too. I have a Vanilla Fudge summer tour that may be happening and I just turned down a Cactus gig to go to Brazil because I have Rod Stewart show dates at the same time. It’s going to be a little juggling of itinerary. I’m thinking maybe I’ll get someone to fill in for me in Cactus for the Brazil date so they can still go. We still have the original guitar player and the singer and bass player have been with us for years.”
Ray Shasho: Carmine, you really got a lot going on these days.
Carmine Appice: “It’s funny because all these things I’ve been working on for a couple of years or so are all coming into play. Like the Joe Lynn Turner band we’ve been working on a year ago last summer. I’ve been working on the Rod Stewart show for about three years.”
Ray Shasho: “The Rod Experience” actually has some of the original band members from The Rod Stewart Group?
Carmine Appice: That’s right; I’ve got every member from the group except the keyboard player and the singer. They all played with Rod. Phil Chen the bass player played with Rod when I played with Rod. Phil was on all the big hits that we did together. Danny Johnson played with Rod in 1980-81 and Jimmy Crespo not only played with Aerosmith but also played with Rod from 1993-96. So we all have our Rod Stewart stories and it’s going to be much like a historical trip. They’ll also be a video screen with tidbits of information. People will be able to watch the screen and listen to the music and see the show that was just like the show we did back then. It’s a party atmosphere, kicking out soccer balls and just having a good time.”
Ray Shasho: How extensive will “The Rod Experience” tour be … are you taking it worldwide?
Carmine Appice: “We’ll probably go worldwide because Jimmy Crespo’s wife works at The Venetian Hotel and they have properties over in Malaysia, Singapore …and all that and are already showing interest for us to bring it over there.”
Ray Shasho: Also in 2014 … you mentioned that Vanilla Fudge may be hitting the road?
Carmine Appice: “Yes, we have a European tour so far in March and may have a two week tour or so in August. I may do a few dates with Cactus, last year we did a lot of shows. We’ll lay back a little with Cactus and do a little more Vanilla Fudge. We didn’t do enough Vanilla Fudge last year. I’ll also be concentrating on Joe Lynn Turner’s Legacy X and “The Rod Experience.””
Ray Shasho: Carmine, you also have a book coming out sometime in 2014?
Carmine Appice:I do, we’re about three quarters of the way through with that. That’s going to be called Stick It! -Encounters with Rock Legends. I got the writer who wrote Nikki Sixx’s book The Heroin Diaries and it’s on VH1 books. It’s been a fun ride and that’s why the book is going to be interesting. It’s not about one guy talking about one band. It’s also all the bands that opened up for Vanilla Fudge .Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, Alice Cooper … all these guys opened up for us. Then going on to Cactus and our first gig with Hendrix, and our second gig was with The Who. Then playing with Jeff Beck and doing the Beck, Bogert & Appice thing. Groups like Tower of Power and Foghat opened up for us. Then there are all the stories that go along with it … sex-crazed and hotel-wrecking things that we did. Then with Mike Bloomfield and KGB… what a crazy guy he was. Then seven years of Rod Stewart and Ozzy. During Rod Stewart we ran into all of Hollywood elite … Gregory Peck, Fred Astaire, Tony Curtis, and all those types of people we used to hang out with. So it goes all over the place … then Ted Nugent and King Cobra, on tour with Kiss, and meeting my idol Buddy Rich.”
Ray Shasho: You played on A Momentary Lapse of Reason one of my favorite Pink Floyd albums. What was it like playing with Pink Floyd?
Carmine Appice: “It was fun! When I got the call from Bob Ezrin my first question was where’s Nick? He said Nick has been racing his Ferrari’s and his calluses are soft and quite honestly they wanted some new blood in there to give it a little bit of energy. So I said okay. When I went in they had the song on the four track, I played all day and kept playing the song and filled up two twenty four track machines of tape, thirty minutes each. So I probably had about two hours worth of performance. Then Bob edited it all together somehow.”

“When I called him to ask how it sounded he said in one word …“Daring!” Then when I called him back in a week or so I asked him again how it sounded and he said “Fabulous!” When I finally heard it, I was up in Canada doing a heavy metal movie called Black Roses in 1988, and I had to go downstairs into a record shop. I heard the Pink Floyd album when it came out and I bought a cassette. So I listened to it there alone in my room on my walkman and I was blown away. Then I got a gold and platinum record.”
Ray Shasho: Were you in the studio at the same time with David Gilmour?
Carmine Appice: “Oh yea, David was there, Richard Wright, Tony Levin was there and I did see Nick Mason. The weird thing about it was when I saw Pink Floyd touring for that album, I watched Nick basically playing my parts.”
Ray Shasho: How many tracks did Nick Mason play on A Momentary Lapse of Reason?
Carmine Appice: I don’t think he played any. It was me and Jim Keltner. I only did “The Dog’s of War” and I think Keltner did the rest.”
Ray Shasho: It’s funny I used to play “The Dog’s of War” track for my daughter when she was little and she loved it. It scared the crap out of her but she still loved it.
(All Laughing)
Carmine Appice: “I know it is a little scary, when the drums came in, they came in like King Kong … and that’s what Bob wanted, the big monster drumming.”
Ray Shasho: Vanilla Fudge was such a huge influence on so many legendary rock groups. I remember Ritchie Blackmore saying that basically Deep Purple was Vanilla Fudge.
Carmine Appice: “It’s cool… we took them on tour back in those days too. So that was interesting also. We took them on tour, they did songs that tried to be like us and we all just became good friends. We played Radio City Music Hall with them a few years ago and that was awesome. It was great having our original band playing with those guys again.”

“But you’re right …Vanilla Fudge influenced so many bands and it’s amazing how we’re not even a peep mentioned in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They don’t even have our song in the playlist for hall of fame kind of songs. All these musicians … Clapton, Pete Townshend, Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant … they all remembered where they were when they first heard, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.” It made such an impression on everybody. George Harrison used to carry around the album to parties. I personally confirmed that with Paul McCartney.”
Ray Shasho: There are so many legendary rock bands from the 70’s that are having more success overseas these days … especially in Japan.
Carmine Appice: “Japan has their own domestic artists that are huge. It used to be that Japan didn’t have any domestic artists until the mid 90’s. All of a sudden they started getting their own artists. So all the American and UK artists who used to go there and play the Budokan are now playing smaller venues. But their artists are playing stadiums. There’s a group over there called B’z and they can play three stadium nights in every major city in Japan. We’re talking 150,000 people. It’s a singer and a guitar player. I went to see them in Japan as a guest, they’re friends of mine, and I think it was the night before or night after I saw Kiss over there. Kiss was playing at the stadium too. The B’z production was bigger than the Kiss production. It was ridiculous…it was so big. Over there they don’t travel around in big semis, they travel around in these sixteen to twenty foot trucks … so they must have had about a hundred trucks going from city to city … it was crazy. But there just huge over there.”

“There’s this guy Char who is the Jeff Beck of Japan. He was a big name. Me and Tim Bogert went over there and normally did like three thousand people. We played the Budokan with Char and did about twelve thousand people in Tokyo because of the combination. Beck, Bogert & Appice were really big in Japan. We had an offer to do one gig over there for a million dollars but Jeff was doing other stuff with Clapton and couldn’t do it.”
Ray Shasho: Carmine, in Vanilla Fudge, whose idea was it to cover The Supremes “You Keep Me Hangin’ On?
Carmine Appice: “That was Mark and Timmy. We used to slow songs down and listen to the lyrics and try to emulate what the lyrics were dictating. That one was a hurtin’song; it had a lot of emotion in it. “People Get Ready” was like a Gospel thing. “Eleanor Rigby” was sort of eerie and churchlike …like a horror movie kind of thing. If you listen to “Hangin’ On” fast… by The Supremes, it sounds very happy, but the lyrics aren’t happy at all. If you lived through that situation, the lyrics are definitely not happy.”
Ray Shasho: I think that’s ingenious how the band did that.
Carmine Appice:Because we weren’t writing songs, we were writing music. On the final episode of The Sopranos they used “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.” It opened up with the organ and the buildup part and that music was ours. We wrote that, it wasn’t in the song. The only part of the song … when one of the heads of the family was getting killed … that’s when they used the bridge part and the singing. The other two parts was our music and we should’ve copywrote those interludes, so we would get paid as writers. So we didn’t get paid a dime for that. We got paid the performance royalty or the artist royalty as they say.”

“Same thing in the movie Zodiac, I went to see the movie with my girlfriend and we were sitting there watching it and there’s a scene where he’s killing someone in a taxi cab, I’m looking at it and the music comes on and I say… I know this music what is it? It was a Vanilla Fudge piece that we used as the introduction to the song “Bang Bang” on the first album. So again, we got paid for the artist royalty and they paid Sonny Bono for the writing. Not a quarter note of his melody or lyric was in that piece of music. It was our music. Now we title all our interludes and sort of gave them to our publishers and said … okay, if anybody uses this we want to get paid for it.”
Ray Shasho: Carmine, you co-wrote a tune that became a mega hit during the disco era. Talk about you and Rod’s hit … “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy.”
Carmine Appice: “Huge… still huge! Rod used to listen to the charts and say… “I want a song like that.” At the time he pointed to “Miss You” by The Rolling Stones. So I went back and had a keyboard in my house. I had this drum machine and this drum groove and put these chords to it and everything. Then I went to my buddy Duane Hitchings house and he had a regular studio. So we put it down and he played keyboard and made it sound better. Then we gave it to Rod. Originally when we cut it… it had three guitars, one keyboard, drums, and I think we had percussion. So it sounded very rock and roll. Then we found out that the producer wanted to make it more commercial, so he put strings on it. We had David Foster as the keyboard player on it … how about that?”
Ray Shasho: Are you playing drums on the original track?
Carmine Appice: “I’m playing drums on it; Phil Chen on bass, all the guitar players from Rod’s band … Gary Grainger, Jim Cregan, Billy Peek, and David Foster on keyboards. It originally sounded pretty rock and roll, but once they put a full orchestra on there and had another girl singing two octaves higher… then everything thinned out. So it ended up not being a heavy rock disco- type of thing like “Miss You” but ended up being more commercial. But you know what … it went to number one in every country around the world. And it still makes a fortune. When you add up all the percentages that different entities have, the song is probably making around three or four hundred thousand dollars a year. It’s unbelievable!”
Ray Shasho: You also co-wrote another huge Rod Stewart hit “Young Turks?”
Carmine Appice: “Young Turks” was the very first pop song to have a drum machine that sounded like drums. There’s an all behind drum machine and I put a Hi-hat and cymbals on it and programmed the drum machine. Me and Duane Hitchings put that track together in his studio. We used the same sound for that song in the title track Tonight I’m Yours. It has the same kind of sound.”
Ray Shasho: Carmine, here’s a question that I ask everyone that I interview. If you had a ‘Field of Dreams’ wish like the movie, to play, sing or collaborate with anyone from the past or present, who would that be?
Carmine Appice: “I’d probably say Led Zeppelin. I always liked their music and style. John Bonham played very close to my style. I think I would be a good fit.”
Ray Shasho: Carmine, thank you for being on the call today but more importantly for all the incredible music you’ve given us and continue to bring.
Carmine Appice: “Thanks for diggin’ it … take care Ray.”

Carmine Appice official website
Rocker Records official website
‘The Rod Experience’ official website
Vanilla Fudge official website
Cactus official website
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Very special thanks to Chip Ruggieri of Chipster PR

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