Vanilla Fudge in Rock Hall? Cactus, too?

Carmine Appice thinks his bands aren't getting a fair shake
By Peter Lindblad

Carmine Appice 2013
Like so many others, Carmine Appice has a bone to pick with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voters. 

And he's not shy about doing a little politicking for his own bands.

In a recent interview, the drumming guru, who just started his own record label, Rocker Records, made the case for both Vanilla Fudge and Cactus.

"Why neither one of them are ever even mentioned in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I’ll never know, especially Vanilla Fudge," said Appice. "We took out everybody with us. Frank Zappa opened up for us. I mean, Cactus had Bruce Springsteen open up for us. You know what I mean? It’s just crazy."

Having Zappa and Springsteen as support acts is pretty impressive all right, but does that alone qualify Vanilla Fudge and Cactus as Hall of Fame material? Appice takes another tack in his fairly good-natured, but still passionate, argument.

"And then they worry that Alice Cooper didn’t get in (that was before he actually got in, of course)," said Appice. "Okay, they’re right. Alice Cooper should be in there. Certainly the freaking rap artists shouldn’t be in there. If they throw those kinds of acts in there, they should call it the Music Hall of Fame, not the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But then Jeff Beck is in there twice. I mean, the Yardbirds are in there. Why are the Yardbirds in there and Vanilla Fudge isn’t in there? The Yardbirds were never that big here. Is it because they spawned the three guitar players? Vanilla Fudge spawned me and Timmy (Bogert) (laughs)."

While there isn't a great push among rock fans to get Fudge or Cactus into the Rock Hall, like there is with other hard-rock heroes Deep Purple  or KISS, maybe they do merit strong consideration.

Mixing up a heavy psychedelic and soulful rock brew, Fudge re-imagined a host of popular songs in the late '60s, including The Supremes' hit "You Keep Me Hangin' On." Fudge's tripped-out version, with vocalist/keyboardist Mark Stein's baroque organ making the track a warped little aural funhouse, went all the way to No. 6 on the US Hot 100. That's also where their 1967 self-titled album landed on the US Top 200.

A weird sophomore effort, titled The Beat Goes On and filled with sound collages rather than actual songs, derailed Fudge, although the record went all the way to No. 17 on the charts. Fudge's third album, Renaissance, was more in line with their first album, and it did well, hitting No. 20. In all, the prolific Fudge, often cited as the missing link between psychedelia and heavy metal, put out five albums between 1966 and 1969, and in the process, probably helped paved the way for the stoner-metal movement.

Appice and Bogert, Fudge's bassist, left in 1970 to start Cactus, leaving Stein to forge onward with Fudge. Known as the "American Led Zeppelin," Cactus stuck around for only two years, but their brand of high-energy boogie-rock influenced a number of high-profile artists, including Van Halen, the Black Crowes, Montrose and the Black Keys. 

But it was Fudge that made Appice and Bogert, who later formed a trio with guitar god Jeff Beck called Beck, Bogert & Appice, household names. And it was Fudge that sparked a reaction by reworking Beatles' songs like "Eleanor Rigby" and "Ticket to Ride," not to mention Donovan's "Season of the Witch," with a thick, lugubrious kind of soul approach that was more glassy-eyed than blue-eyed.

They were not playing by anybody's rules.

"The Rascals were big at the time, and we sort of blew them away with what they were doing to the extreme," said Appice. "And it’s just like Led Zeppelin took everybody else who influenced them, from Hendrix to Vanilla Fudge to the Cream and everybody else, and took what they were doing – especially The Jeff Beck Group – to the extreme. And that’s why they were so big, but 'You Keep Me Hangin’ On,' it was such a shock, because nobody really did covers in those days. If they did, they were doing them the same way as the original. But the way we did it, we shocked so many people."

Count some of the biggest names in rock among those stunned by what Vanilla Fudge was doing.

"I remember reading things that Eric Clapton and George Harrison and Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck and all these people knew exactly where they were the first time they heard that, because it left such an impression on them," said Appice. "And why? Because it was a white group playing really heavy, but soulful – so heavy soul wasn’t really in yet. White, blue-eyed soul was cool. That was what The Rascals did and the Righteous Brothers did, but nobody did it heavy – with big amps and the big drums, the powerful drum sounds."

These days, both bands are back touring, and Appice's new label is just itching to put some Cactus and Vanilla Fudge product that Appice has just sitting around collecting dust. Visit for more information.

And stay tuned for more from our interview with one of the greatest drummers in the history of rock 'n' roll.

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