The Vanilla Fudge drummer plays with guitarist Pat Travers at Englewoods on Dearborn on Wednesday while filming the show “Cooking with Rock Stars”
Carmine Appice and Pat Travers: 8 p.m. Wednesday; Englewoods on Dearborn, 362 W. Dearborn St., Englewood; 941-475-7501; englewoodsondearborn.com
Sarasota County blues mainstay Englewoods on Dearborn will change its tune when it hosts a concert by two rock stars as part of filming for an upcoming series.
Drummer Carmine Appice and guitarist Pat Travers play the venue on Wednesday. The show will be recorded for “Cooking with Rock Stars,” which has musicians share stories and recipes, hosted by John Campbell.
Appice served as original and current drummer of the rock group Vanilla Fudge, later joining the groups Cactus and Beck, Bogert & Appice with Vanilla Fudge bassist Tim Bogert and guitar legend Jeff Beck. He also spent stints in the bands of Ozzy Osbourne and Rod Stewart, co-writing the latter’s No. 1 hit “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” and was named the 28th greatest drummer of all time by Rolling Stone.
In a phone interview with the Herald-Tribune, Travers discussed “Cooking with Rock Stars,” Vanilla Fudge’s recent 50th anniversary and playing with Stewart. Here are excerpts.
What do you have planned for your “Cooking with Rock Stars” concert and filming here?
I’m going to play with Pat Travers, Pat is a guy that I work with. I have a new album out called “Carmine Appice Guitar Zeus,” and on that album I have all these great guitar players, and Pat is one of them. With Pat, we share my song that I wrote and played with Rod Stewart, “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” We’re gonna play that song, one from my group Cactus and one song from Beck, Bogert & Appice.
So that’s the plan, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to come down, the first day is (Tuesday). It’s going to be in a kitchen setting, we’re going to film it for TV, I’m going to cook my special carb-free pancakes and walnuts. My girlfriend’s going to cook one of her meals, and then the next day we’re going to play with Pat. Then Pat’s going to be on the show also, cook some of his meals with his wife and I think his daughter. It should be fun.
As you mentioned, you’ve worked with Travers a lot over the years. How did that partnership come about?
When I first met Pat, I was playing with Ted Nugent and we were on tour together, Pat was the opening act. Pat’s drummer Sandy Gennaro is a good friend of mine, so I hung out with Pat a lot. Through the years, we’ve just connected and connected. And in the early 2000s, I had a record deal with a German label, we did the first album with Rick Derringer, me and Tim Bogert. Rick was born again at the time and he brought that to the music, so when the second album came up, the label said, “We don’t want to use Rick, we want you to use somebody else.” So I thought about Pat. I called Pat and asked him if he wanted to do this album with me. We did it, and we ended up doing two records.
So we’ve been friends for a long time, so when this thing came along, John Campbell asked me, “Do you have anybody else you could think might want to do that? We’re in Florida.” I said, “Well, you should call Pat.” We called Pat and Pat said, “Yeah, I’ll do it.” He wanted me to play, so I said, “Why don’t I just play with Pat? Pat’s got his little trio down there, we can use his bass player, it should be easy.” So that’s what ended up happening.
A few years ago was Vanilla Fudge’s 50th anniversary and unlike a lot of bands of that era, you’re still releasing albums and have largely the same lineup. Did you ever think you might still be playing together five decades later?
We never even thought about that back in the day. Back in the day when Vanilla Fudge came out, the whole industry was brand new. What we were doing was called the underground movement, and in the underground movement were all the groups that are big now — Jimi Hendrix, Cream, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, The Doors. It started a whole FM radio movement, it went totally away from the pop music, which was on AM radio. We ended up going on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and we were the first band to ever go on that show that had no giant hit single.
It was a lot different, so we didn’t even think about the fact that gee, in 50 years, we’re going to still be around. Because then in 1970, everybody started dying. Hendrix died, Janis Joplin died, Jim Morrison died. That was three big ones. So we didn’t really think about it that much, but now, we can’t believe we’re still going.
Led Zeppelin’s first North American tour was opening for Vanilla Fudge. What was that experience like, getting to introduce them to that audience?
Well, we knew Jimmy Page at the time. He was with the Yardbirds and we’d done some gigs with the Yardbirds with Vanilla Fudge. So our manager and their manager were friends, we had the same attorney, we were on the same label. So we got the record well in advance to hear it because they said, “Do you guys want these guys to open up for you?” We could’ve said no, but we were nice guys and said, “Yeah, Jimmy Page’s band, sure, they sound great.” I love John Bonham’s drumming on the first record.
We didn’t need them on the first gig, we’d already sold out by the time they were added. But our agent was their agent and he told the promoter, “Look, I’ll tell you what, you pay half and Vanilla Fudge will pay half,” because we were the headliners. In those days as a headliner, we were making five, six, seven thousand a night, not like headliners today. And they opened up for us, people were yelling, “Bring the Fudge on,” but in general they had a good reaction. And they continued on from there. Six months later, we did gigs with them and it was equal bill, that’s how big they got so fast. It was a lot of fun those days, because everything was new.
Bonham was among the drummers who’ve considered you an influence. How does that feel?
There were drummers like John Bonham, Ian Paice from Deep Purple, Roger Taylor, Neil Peart. You can tell by all these guys that use gongs. I brought the gong into rock and then Bonzo brought it in with Led Zeppelin, Carl Palmer had gongs, everybody had gongs, it became like a staple. The two China cymbals on a boom stand, I brought that in and even in Spinal Tap, you had a gong and two Chinese cymbals. It became like this is the rock set-up, so stuff that I did caught on and a lot of drummers used it. There’s guys that went through my drum book, I wrote a drum book as well and it was very successful. Guys like Slipknot’s drummer, he went through it, the female drummer that was in Motley Crue for a minute went through it. Dave Weckl went through it, even Andrew Dice Clay went through the book. It’s crazy.
You played in Rod Stewart’s band for years, including co-writing “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” What were some of your favorite memories of that time, besides obviously co-writing a No. 1 hit?
Well, that was the amazing thing right there, getting a No. 1 hit that I co-wrote, which I had never had before. It was a great feeling because you knew every time you did a record, you were going to sell five million records. I got so many gold and platinum records from Rod, they cover my walls. It was just really an amazing time because that was when Rod was at his biggest, he was at his best singing and we were considered one of the best rock bands in the world. We played six nights at the Forum, five nights at the Garden, four nights at Cobo Hall, multiple nights at big arenas. There was no opening act, it was just the power of Rod and the band and the records we put out. It was a great time. You have your ups and downs, and that was definitely my career up. The biggest part of my career was that.