Vanilla Fudge Biography

This US rock band was formed in December 1966 and originally comprised Mark Stein (11 March 1947, Bayonne, New Jersey, USA; vocals/keyboards), Vince Martell (b. 11 November 1945, the Bronx, New York City, New York, USA; guitar), Tim Bogert (b. 27 August 1944, Ridgefield, New Jersey, USA; bass) and Joey Brennan (drums). All were previously members of the Pigeons, a New York-based group modelled on the Young Rascals. Brennan was latterly replaced by Carmine Appice (b. 15 December 1946, Staten Island, New York, USA), and having established a style in which contemporary songs were imaginatively rearranged, the unit was introduced to producer Shadow Morton, who had a reputation for melodramatic pop with the Shangri-Las. Dubbed Vanilla Fudge by their record label, the quartet scored an immediate success in 1967 with an atmospheric revival of the Supremes’ hit, ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’. The slowed tempo, studious playing and mock-gospel harmonies set a precedent for the group’s debut album, which featured similarly operatic versions of the Impressions’ ‘People Get Ready’, Sonny And Cher’s ‘Bang Bang’ and the Beatles’ ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘Ticket To Ride’. The audacity of this first selection was impossible to repeat. A flawed concept album, The Beat Goes On (1968), proved over ambitious, while further selections showed a band unable to create original material of the calibre of the first album. Subsequent records relied on simpler, hard-edged rock.

When Vanilla Fudge split in 1970, the bass player and drummer remained together in Cactus before abandoning their creation in favour of Beck, Bogert And Appice. Stein worked with Tommy Bolin and Alice Cooper before forging a new career composing advertising jingles, while Martell later appeared in the Good Rats, a popular Long Island bar-band. The unit briefly re-formed in 1983, releasing Mystery which failed to make any impact despite a cameo by Jeff Beck under the pseudonym J. Toad.

A further reunion took place at the start of the new millennium, with Bill Pascali taking the place of the absent Stein. The studio set The Return (later re-released with a different running order under the title Then And Now) featured reworkings of classic Vanilla Fudge tracks alongside cover versions of songs by contemporary acts such as *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys. Stein returned to help the unit complete a bizarre recording of Led Zeppelin songs, released by the Escapi Music label in 2007.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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