When young Long Island drummer Carmine Appice joined a rock band called The Pigeons in the '60s, he couldn't have had better timing. The band was on the cusp of changing its name to the Vanilla Fudge, slowing down The Supremes' "You Keep Me Hangin' On" into a soulful seven minutes and scoring a rock-radio hit that would endure for decades. After the proto-metal band broke up in 1970, Appice kept going, playing with his own band Cactus and backing up stars Rod Stewart, Ozzy Osbourne and others. Preparing for a Fudge reunion -- and a show Friday at Bay Shore's YMCA Boulton Center -- Appice, 64, ran down his history in a phone interview.
Basically, it was all by accident. In those days there were no big PA systems. It was like, "What do I do to get the drums heard?" It was turning the sticks around, getting into it with the full-body motion, rather than just the wrist or the hand. By doing that, I created a bigger, fatter sound.
Has that style taken its toll on your body?
Well, I just had rotator-cuff surgery on my shoulder in November.
Are you fully recovered?
My first gig was Feb. 20 in Mexico with [guitarist] Michael Schenker. My doctor told me I was OK to do it at that point. Everything went great.
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That's roughly three months of not playing the drums, right? That's unprecedented in your career.
For me to not just really play anything was really wild. It was a feeling of healing. The first month of it, I was in a sling. I went to therapy twice a week. Believe it or not, I did take the time to write my biography, "The International Rock Guide to Hotel Wrecking."
What's in the book?
They used to see us play when I was with Rod. I gave Fred Astaire one of my books with a message in it: "Good luck with the book, I hope it helps you, lots of luck, Carmine Appice." Next thing I know, I got a letter from Fred Astaire, which is in a frame and will be in the book: "Hi, Carmine Appice, thank you for the book with the lovely message, I've enjoyed your work many times. Love, Fred Astaire." I go, "Wow."
WHO Vanilla Fudge
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Friday, YMCA Boulton Center
INFO $45 (sold out, but call for last-minute availability); 866-811-4111, boultoncenter.org