Vanilla Fudge is from Long Island, New York known predominantly for their extended rock renderings of contemporary hit songs, most notably “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”.
The band’s original lineup—vocalist/organist Mark Stein, bassist/vocalist Tim Bogert, lead guitarist/vocalist Vince Martell, and drummer/vocalist Carmine Appice—recorded five albums during the years 1966–69, before disbanding in 1970.
The band has reunited in various configurations over the years, and is currently operating with three of the four original members, Mark Stein, Vince Martell, and Carmine Appice with Pete Bremy on bass for Tim Bogert, who has retired from touring. The band has been cited as “one of the few American links between psychedelia and what soon became heavy metal.”
Stein and Bogert played in a local band called Rick Martin & The Showmen. The pair were so impressed by the swinging sound and floods of organ of The Rascals they decided to form their own band with Martell and Rick Martin’s drummer, Joey Brennan. Originally calling themselves The Pigeons, they changed the name to Vanilla Fudge in 1966, after the replacement of Brennan by Appice. The group was then “discovered” and managed by reputed Lucchese crime family member Phillip Basile, who operated several popular clubs in New York. Their first three albums (Vanilla Fudge, The Beat Goes On, and Renaissance) were produced by Shadow Morton, whom the band met through The Rascals. When Led Zeppelin first toured the USA in early 1969, they supported Vanilla Fudge on some shows.
The band’s biggest hit was its cover of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” a slowed-down, hard rocking version of a song originally recorded by The Supremes. This version featured Stein’s psychedelic-baroque organ intro and Appice’s energetic drumming. It was a Top 10 hit in the US and Australia and a Top 20 hit in Britain in 1967.
The members of Vanilla Fudge were great admirers of The Beatles, and covered several of their songs including “Ticket to Ride” and “Eleanor Rigby.” The self-titled debut album quotes “Strawberry Fields Forever” at the end, with the line “there’s nothing to get hung about.”
According to Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord, Vanilla Fudge’s organ-heavy sound was a large influence on the UK band Deep Purple, with Blackmore even stating that his band wanted to be a “Vanilla Fudge clone” in its early years.
On March 14, 1970, Vanilla Fudge played a farewell concert at the Phil Basille’s Action House. After that, Bogert & Appice departed to form another group, Cactus. In 1972, they left Cactus and formed Beck, Bogert & Appice with guitarist Jeff Beck. Stein, left on his own, tried to keep the group going with two new players, Sal D’Nofrio (bass) and Jimmy Galluzi (drums) (both of whom had been members of a Poughkeepsie, New York group known as ‘The Dirty Elbows’). But when nothing came from this, Stein ended up forming a new group, Boomerang, instead with Galluzi.