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Vanilla Fudge

Vanilla Fudge was one of the few American links between psychedelia and what soon became heavy metal. While the band did record original material, they were best-known for their loud, heavy, slowed-down arrangements of contemporary pop songs, blowing them up to epic proportions and bathing them in a trippy, distorted haze. Originally, Vanilla Fudge was a blue-eyed soul cover band called the Electric Pigeons, who formed in Long Island, New York, in 1965. Organist Mark Stein, bassist Tim Bogert, and drummer Joey Brennan soon shortened their name to the Pigeons and added guitarist Vince Martell. They built a following by gigging extensively up and down the East Coast, and earned extra money by providing freelance in-concert backing for girl groups. In early 1966, the group recorded a set of eight demos that were released several years later as While the Whole World Was Eating Vanilla Fudge, credited to Mark Stein & the Pigeons.

Inspired by the Vagrants, another band on the club circuit led by future Mountain guitarist Leslie West, the Pigeons began to put more effort into reimagining the arrangements of their cover songs. They got so elaborate that by the end of the year, drummer Brennan was replaced by the more technically skilled Carmine Appice. In early 1967, their manager convinced producer George "Shadow" Morton (who'd handled the girl group the Shangri-Las and had since moved into protest folk) to catch their live act. Impressed by their heavy, hard-rocking recasting of the Supremes' "You Keep Me Hangin' On," Morton offered to record the song as a single; the results landed the group a deal with the Atlantic subsidiary Atco, which requested a name change. The band settled on Vanilla Fudge, after a favorite ice cream flavor. "You Keep Me Hangin' On" didn't perform as well as hoped, but the band toured extensively behind its covers-heavy, jam-oriented debut album Vanilla Fudge, which gradually expanded their fan base. Things started to pick up for the band in 1968: early in the year, they headlined the Fillmore West with the Steve Miller Band, performed "You Keep Me Hangin' On" on The Ed Sullivan Show, and released their second album, The Beat Goes On. Despite its somewhat arty, indulgent qualities, the LP was a hit, climbing into the Top 20. That summer, Atco reissued "You Keep Me Hangin' On," and the second time around it climbed into the Top Ten. It was followed by Renaissance, one of Vanilla Fudge's best albums, which also hit the Top 20. The band supported it by touring with Jimi Hendrix, opening several dates on Cream's farewell tour, and late in the year touring again with the fledgling Led Zeppelin as their opening act.

In 1969, the band kept touring and released their first album without Morton, the expansive, symphonic-tinged Near the Beginning. After part of the band recorded a radio commercial with guitarist Jeff Beck, the idea was hatched to form a Cream-styled power trio with plenty of individual solo spotlights. Exhausted by the constant touring, the band decided that their late-1969 European tour would be their last. Following the release of their final album, Rock & Roll, Vanilla Fudge played a few U.S. farewell dates and disbanded in early 1970. Bogert and Appice first formed the hard rock group Cactus, then later joined up with Jeff Beck in the aptly named Beck, Bogert & Appice. Appice went on to become an active session and touring musician, working with a variety of rock and hard rock artists. Vanilla Fudge reunited in 1984 for the poorly received Mystery album, and, over the course of the next two decades, Vanilla Fudge would regroup for tours. These reunions often had differing lineups, always anchored by Carmine Appice and usually Tim Bogert, although the latter opted out of an early-'90s incarnation. At the turn of the millennium, the group -- featuring Appice, Bogert, keyboardist Bill Pascali, and guitarist Vince Martell -- launched a more serious comeback heralded by the 2002 album The Return. Several other minor switches in lineup followed in the next few years and, in 2007, they now featured Mark Stein on vocals/keyboards instead of Pascali. This is the group that released Out Through the in Door in 2007. This proved to be the group's last album. More tours followed as did the revolving membership, with the most notable departure being Bogert in 2011. He was replaced by Pete Bremy and Vanilla Fudge launched a "farewell tour" in 2011, a tour that was still ongoing in 2013. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Saw them in 69 at Col Ballroom Davenport, blew my mind
happy51trail s
WOW, I saw them in 69 and they rocked the place......g r e a t !
lhh452
Attn:Pandora ! The track People on Near The Beginning is not their cover of People Get Ready as your lyric section suggests, but an original song.
Great covers !!!!
One of the special talents of Vanilla Fudge is the ability to use inovative immaginative originality to do other artist's songs.The idea that there is some diminshed dignity in this escapes me entirely.
Where's House of the Rising Sun?
Yo, cyborg! I concur. You Keep Me Hangin' On is primo, too bad Pandora plays the super-short version.
The Vanilla Fudge version of You Keep Me Hangin' On is the best In my opinion
sunlinepr
I saw Cactus In the Marisol Music Festival in Puerto Rico.... But....The band that really impressed me was Mahavishnu Orchestra... .
twhaight59
The Beat Goes on was one of the first albums I bought. Great album.
Saw them at the Terreance Ball Room SLC, opening for Led Zepplin
Saw them in Puerto Rico. Their equipment was late getting in so they used the locals. Incredible even without their own. Dam good times...
thomasbgraha m
My brother Joe and I played "Keep me hangin' on" by Vanilla Fudge in a 1960 Battle of the Bands. We all wore lime green nehru shirts, Beatle boots and played through Super Bealtle amps. Terry passed in 2009 and Mike is still around. Good Times !!! 10 Solo 8
nik_dangr
Saw Cactus (with Bogert and Appice) open for Traffic at Georgetown U. 1970 seems about right. Folding chairs and bleacher seats. Some clowns climbed on one of the cantilevered basketball backboards and it slowly bent until it hit the floor. Everyone was too stoned to care. Very smoky. Heh-heh.
commdan
I saw them at the Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh with my high school sweetheart in 1969.
anyone out there from long island that remembers seeing them & the vagrents at the Action House in island park. then going down to nathans for hotdogs.
very very cool
mark stein's interpretati o n of other groups songs was great.
their rendetion of "you just keep me hanging on " is great
im still crien over my divorce this helps
"Wiping the death from his hands as he walks from the grave" Their cover of the Beatles Elenior Rigby. Changing the word "dirt" to "death" Makes their song more meaningful to me than the original by the Beatles!.
big influence on early deep purple and ritchie blackmore.
Zeppelin opened for these guys on their first trip to the US.
Check out Beck, Bogart, and Appice
My mom had a Vanilla fudge record with their version of "you keep me hangin on". It was pretty sweet!
jdeliduka
their best album "renaissance " is not available?
Still god after all these years
jackrabid200 3
one of the most inspirationa l bands to me.
They were the first link between to proto-psyche d e l i c rock and what became heavy metal. Although Iron Butterfly (another link in the chain) came at about the same time, Vanilla Fudge was more focused on the lyricism of their music whereas Iron Butterly focused on the instrumental arrangements of their pieces. The two together made a cocktail of black liquor that made for the beginnings of heavy metal.

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