Dino Danelli – the founding drummer of legendary 1960s rock/soul band the Rascals – has died at the age of 78. He passed away on Thursday, Dec. 15.
Born on July 23, 1944 – and as noted by Drummer Café – Danelli was a trained jazz percussionist who played with artists such as Lionel Hampton and Ronnie Speeks & the Elrods in the early 1960s. In 1963, he met singer Eddie Brigati and pianist Felix Cavaliere while in New York City; the following year, the trio hooked up with Canadian guitarist Gene Cornish and formed The Young Rascals.
Despite a few line-up changes along the way – as well as renaming themselves to The Rascals with 1968’s Once Upon a Dream – Danelli stayed with the band until their first breakup in 1972. As such, he played three No. 1 hits: 1966’s “Good Lovin’,” 1967’s “Groovin’,” and 1968’s “People Got to Be Free.”
Sadly, poor sales and growing disinterest – among other factors – led to the group disbanding in 1972. (Fortunately, all four original members reunited and played at their 1997 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, among other subsequent performances.)
Following the band’s breakup, Danelli and Cornish formed Bulldog and put out two LPs: 1972’s Bulldog and 1974’s Smasher. Unfortunately, they parted ways in 1975, and over the subsequent decades, Danelli played with numerous other acts, including Leslie West, Fotomaker, and Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul.
He also produced songs for singer/songwriter Roxanne Fontana’s 1999 record, Love is Blue, and enjoyed pursuing another creative desire as a professional visual artist.
The news of Danelli’s passing was shared by Cornish on his Facebook page. On Dec. 15, Cornish wrote: “It is with a broken heart that I must tell you of the passing of Dino Danelli. 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.”
Naturally, Cornish’s statement was met with a lot of fond memories and support from fans. For instance, one Facebook user commented: “So very sorry to hear this Gene. This is heartbreaking. My deepest condolences to you, Felix, Eddie & his family. May he Rest In Peace.”
Likewise, Rascal’s archivist Joe Russo posted about Danelli as well. Specifically, he stated: “I hope you will all continue to appreciate his talent and send him your love. Thank you for supporting his various endeavors throughout his career. You all made it possible for him to live his dream, which was to be a musician and artist. Blessings to you all.”
You can see both posts below. Of course, we send our condolences to Danelli’s friends, family, and countless fans during this difficult time.
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