Dino Danelli, the drummer who was the backbone of blue-eyed soul hitmakers The Rascals (nee The Young Rascals) has died at age 78.
Specifics were scant on what happened and where/when. However, group spokesperson Joe Russo wrote on Danelli’s Facebook page that the drummer struggled with coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure, requiring an angioplasty over a decade earlier.
His bandmate, guitarist Gene Cornish, paid tribute to Danelli on Facebook.
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“It is with a broken heart that I must tell you of the passing of Dino Danelli,” Cornish wrote Thursday on social media. “He was my brother and the greatest drummer I’ve ever seen. I am devastated at this moment. Rest in peace, Dino; I love you brother.”
Danelli grew up in Jersey City, N.J., and started his career as a jazz drummer, playing with Lionel Hampton and spending time in New Orleans. He met future bandmates Eddie Brigati and Felix Cavaliere in 1963, the latter briefly joining Danelli in a Las Vegas casino house band.
By 1965, they were back in New York City and formed the Young Rascals, adding Gene Cornish on guitar to join with Cavaliere on keys and Brigati on percussion and vocals. The group had a hit out of the box with “I Aint’ Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore,” going on to have eight Top 20 singles, including No. 1 hits “Good Lovin,’” “Groovin’” and “People Got to Be Free.”
The Young Rascals became the Rascals after three albums, then began exploring conceptual themes on their albums, as was the fashion of the times. They split acrimoniously in the ’70s, then reunited in several incarnations.
They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, the original members performing “Good Lovin’,” “Groovin’,” “How Can I Be Sure” and “People Got To Be Free” at their induction in a moving moment.
The Rascals reunited again in Dec. 2012 for a public performance titled “The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream,” a multimedia extravaganza that featured the history of the group told through archival footage, narration, and dramatic film segments. The successful event saw the Rascals take it on the road and begin touring together again in 2013.
Beyond the Rascals, Danelli joined with Cornish to form the band Bulldog in the ’70s, producing two albums before disbanding. Danelli also played with Leslie West, Fotomaker, and then with Steven Van Zandt as a member of Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul.
In addition to music, Danelli designed album covers for The Rascals and Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul.
No information on survivors or memorial plans was immediately available.
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