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The Rascals

Dino Danelli

Dino Danelli, rear, with The Rascals in 1969
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He was the first star drummer.

Except, of course, for Ringo Starr, but he was a Beatle. The Beatles were gods, everybody else was a musician.

And musicians the Young Rascals were, except of course for frontman Eddie Brigatti, with that space between his teeth. We knew everything about the bands, all we had were the album covers, and we stared at them, can close our eyes and still picture them.

I’d like to say I’m shocked that Dino Danelli died. And on one level I am, but on another, like Christine McVie, he did not die young, before his time, he was 78. Back in the Young Rascals’ heyday that was considered old, now everybody expects to live into their nineties, but if that were the case why would the U.S. average life expectancy be 76.1 years? Dino just beat the average, but one thing’s for sure, he and his band never were, average that is.

But it was a different era.

Kids had no idea who ran GM or IBM, there were no billionaires, and the entire nation was music crazy. Credit the aforementioned Beatles. They broke in ’64, a slew of British bands invaded right thereafter and seemingly everybody in America bought an electric guitar, because like Roger (then Jim) McGuinn sang, they wanted to be a rock and roll star.

And to be a rock and roll star you had to be your material. You had to write it, play it and sing it. The Monkees were derided for not living up to this standard, today no one would care.

And the first Rascals hits were covers. The delicious “I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore” and the exercise in excitement, “Good Lovin’.” The Grateful Dead might have made the latter a staple of their live show, but anybody but a Deadhead would tell you the Rascals’ version is definitive.

In retrospect, the first Young Rascals album was just an introduction. It was what came thereafter that really cemented their reputation. The second LP, “Collections,” had the stellar Felix Cavaliere original “(I’ve Been) Lonely Too Long,” and the Cavaliere/Brigatti compositions “Love Is a Beautiful Thing” and “What Is the Reason.” Have you heard these recently? They maintain their energy, they stand up, exceed what is on the hit parade today. As for the third album, “Groovin’,” there was the title track, “A Girl Like You,” “How Can I Be Sure” and “You Better Run,” all on the same album!

The Young Rascals were a juggernaut. And I went to see them headline a five-act bill in the gym at Fairfield University.

People always ask me what was my first concert. Honestly, I can’t remember. We were taken to cultural events from the onset of my earliest memories. Young people’s concerts, plays, to go to a show was de rigueur. And using today’s terminology, we were free range kids. Taking the train into New York City alone… And going to the show alone. We didn’t need an escort, a chaperone… We were dropped off and waited in line after the show to use the pay phone to call for a pickup. By time our parents arrived the venue was usually empty, security, or what stood in for it back then, would be telling us to leave, they didn’t care about our safety, they just wanted us out.

Now on October 15, 1967 when this concert took place, no one left early. No one cared about beating the traffic and you couldn’t miss the opening act.

Anticipation built and the Young Rascals delivered. This was long before the day of tapes, never mind hard drives. You either had it or you did not. There was no click track. There were only four men on stage, running through their hits.

And even though he was in the back, Dino was as big a star as Eddie out front. There’s the way he twirled his sticks… That was his trademark, we’d seen it on TV, it seemed impossible, he never dropped a stick and never missed a beat. You can see Dino in action at 4:48 in this clip:

When the show was over my friend and I rushed the stage, got right up on the platform, and we took Dino’s sticks.

They were thick. And they had slices in the parts where your hands would normally be. Yes, Dino played both ends. After he twirled them he couldn’t be concerned with which end he was playing.

I kept those sticks until 1975, when my mother turned my bedroom into an office. She threw out my all my stuff, all my mementos, my World’s Fair hat…and Dino Danelli’s drumsticks.

She also threw out my baseball cards and my American Flyer slot cars. If I had both of those today, I could retire. But in truth, it’s all about the memories, and I can still see Dino Danelli twirling those drumsticks on the Fairfield University stage. As for the records…they’re embedded in wax, we change but they never do, and when we listen to them we remember who we were and what we were doing and it matters not a whit to anybody else, but it’s everything to us.

Rock and roll is a hard mistress. What seems like forever is really just a few years long. When you’re young you think these bands will last forever. But few do. Except for the superstars, the rest go on to straight jobs, or die prematurely. It’s weird, without education or experience so many end up doing manual labor. They were your heroes, and now…

Of course, there are oldies shows. And the Rascals even reunited, and Dino spun his sticks once again, but now it’s too late. Just like a Monkees reunion is too late. Life bit ’em in the ass, and eventually it’s going to bite us too.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. What you’ve got to understand is in the sixties kids ruled. Oldsters didn’t want to be us, they resented us. Kids tested limits, kids drove the culture, and nowhere was this as prominent as it was in music. I’d detail the growth, from cottage industry to public company, but if you were not there… Let’s just say before the Beatles no one expected rock acts to be forever, for the members to be rich, to live the lives of royalty. This was a new thing. And ever since everybody wants to imitate them, become rich and famous. But it’s not the same. Acts got ripped-off, but they got laid. The adventures were incredible, but now…

Elvis’s sales are going down, his audience is dying off. SiriusXM’s 60s on 6 is no longer on 6. That low channel number is valuable real estate. First it was the forties that switched to a high number, then the fifties and soon it will be the seventies. Our history is disappearing right in front of our eyes, and most don’t seem to care. They’re into the new. When sometimes the old is much better.

But in the era of constant school shootings, how much news value does the death of an old rocker have?

After Dino came Ginger Baker, the drum solo. But Ginger’s dead too. So many of them are already gone, with more on the way. If you didn’t see them, you never will.

All that’s left is the pictures in your mind. You can talk about them, but unless you were there you have no idea of the visceral impact of Dino Danelli and the Rascals and so many more. I remember tingling when I saw Gene Cornish in Sam Ash on one of those non-supervised trips to New York, we had to cruise 48th Street, go to Manny’s and the rest of the music stores that are no longer there. You had to go to the city to get a discount, now you just go on Amazon.

So, if you were there you know how I feel. You want to remember Dino in that schoolboy outfit twirling his sticks and pounding the skins positively alive. You don’t want to think about the decades thereafter. Because Dino was a star, someone you looked up to, someone who was cool, someone who gave you reason to be alive.

But he’s dead now.

And soon you will be too.

Responses from Bob’s readers. These comments are not edited for grammar or content and may not reflect the views of CelebrityAccess or its staff.

Gene Cornish visits my friend Eric who has Cerebral Palsy…it was very sweet. Before Eric’s condition deteriorated he was in a band with Brian Setzer’s brother. His father was an RCA engineer. He has been immobile for decades. Count your blessings…

Michael Fremer


The first concert I ever went to on my own was The Young Rascals at the New Haven Arena in May 1966. My best friend and I went downtown but we didn’t have tickets. It was a Saturday daytime show, they were doing a second show in the evening. We somehow convinced a security guard to let we very young teenagers in and it was insane inside. They played all their hits and I became a fan forever. 6 years later I had the pleasure of introducing The Rascals as MC at an outdoor concert at Brown U and 8 years after that I worked with Felix Cavaliere on his solo album Castles In The Air while at Epic. I still have all my vinyl of the early albums. RIP Dino.

Dick Wingate


Dino totally changed rock n’ roll drumming. Before him it was the paradiddle musings on guys like Ron Wilson of The Surfaris or Sandy Nelson. Both great, but mainly driven by the snare heavy prominence of high school marching bands. Dino’s twirling was great but his KICK changed everything. Suddenly the ballsy kick heavy drummers from NJ, the Bronx and Long Island followed in his wake. Guys like Carmine Appice, John Barbata and Tom Scarpinato. If you were at any concerts at the NY State World’s Fair in 1964-65 you saw the change. This time around the Brits followed us with heavy kick players like Bonham, Baker and the vastly underrated B.J. Wilson.
Every week it seems we are calling it the “end of an era”, but Dino’s passing truly is one. best, John Zambetti The Malibooz


I really enjoyed your thoughts on Dino.
I remember Chip, my older brother taking me to meet Gene Cornish at a hotel, before his show in Birmingham. Many years later, at the Library of Congress, featuring Legendary ASCAP Songwriters, I was in an all star band with Felix Cavaliere on the show. I was on 2nd Keyboards and was one of the thrills of my life to sing the Eddie Brigatti parts. We had a chance to hang out with Felix during downtime, he talked about how supportive everyone at Atlantic Records was to the Rascals, Thanks so Much!
John Lee Sanders


In 1972 Dino and Gene stole our guitar player Eric Thorngren to play in Bulldog.
One of their first gigs was in Utica, and at the afterparty I sat on the floor with Dino for about an hour, smoking tons of dope and talking drumming – he even showed me some of the nuances of his stick-twirling. Best drum lesson I ever had!

Best regards,
Darryl Mattison


Hey Bob,

Dino and the Rascals are my heroes.

Dino had the skill and style of a big band drummer.

I saw the Rascals twice in NYC in 2013 at the “Once Upon a Dream” show.

Beautiful band, beautiful body of songs.

Felix, Eddie, Gene and Dino.

Thank you guys!!

Rick Nowels


Wow, I’ll say! I saw them twenty some odd times, mostly in NYC clubs at The Phone Booth, Steve Paul’s The Scene and concert venues around the country when our paths would cross. I first saw them at a school dance in November of 1965 at the Greenwich, CT Civic Center where Good Lovin’ was unveiled. I had never seen anything like the force of those four and have not since. They took the roof off where ever they played with every song re-invented each set and, remarkably for the time, every show ending with the 17 minute instrumental “Cute” which is on the second disc of Freedom Suite. Sadly, there is no live footage of the band that I have ever seen except for TV appearances (Ed Sullivan, Hullabaloo, Shindig). The best filmed is “Glory, Glory” and “People Got to be Free” leading into “Oh, Happy Days” with Barbara McNair on her TV show from 1970 with Dino Danelli and the boys at full throttle. To have heard them play “People Get Ready” by the Impressions taking-off into a medley “picking-up passengers from coast to coast” was to be awakened. How fitting then, that the last song on the last Atlantic album (Search and Nearness) was the imploring “Glory, Glory”. The 2013 Broadway revival was great fun for devotees like myself to crest once more upon a dream.

Robbo Coleman


One hell of a band up there.

Dino was a favorite of mine. I’m 75, still playing my kit but with headphones now and dreaming about old memories- We still all keep in touch but on FB. Dino was my idol- so tight, so cool. Oh the memories; and yes, we saw them live- we lived and enjoyed the great groups and lucky us got to play on the same stage with them sometimes. Love the late 60’s

Steve Hass


Bob…Dino’s playing on the fade-out of “What Is The Reason” was/is mind-blowing…growing up in the Bronx in the mid-60s, it was either the Rascals or the Spoonful (you dug the Blues Project for the “hipness factor”)…I was firmly entrenched in the latter’s camp but in my mind, I always felt a true New York City super group would’ve been made up of Dino on drums, Felix on organ/vocals, Sebastian on guitar/harmonica/vocals and Yanovsky (my hero) on lead guitar…Dino and Zal were the secret weapons of their respective groups — Matt Auerbach


Being a young drummer during the 1960’s and 1970’s, I was fortunate to see and hear some of the most talented drummers of all time including Dino Danelli. Your post reminded me of another show at Fairfield University billed as “Sounds From England” on April 17, 1970. The bill included The Nice, Savoy Brown and Family. It was general seating so we got there early and sat in the front row. Unfortunately, The Nice cancelled at the last minute and were replaced by Troyka, a Canadian band. Despite this setback, Savoy Brown and Family delivered blistering sets featuring two more great drummers, Roger Earl and Rob Townsend. And this week, we lost Kim Simmonds, Savoy Brown founder / guitarist at age 75, along with Dino. We’re losing the legends.

Bob Anderson
Bridgeport, CT


Thanks so much for your wonderful piece on Dino Danelli. Like you, I was there, and you expressed this Jersey boy’s sentiments perfectly. Thank you Bob, because if you didn’t write this, one of the greatest rock and roll drummers would quietly pass into the night.

Not only could Dino showboat and twirl his sticks like a magician, he was a drummer’s drummer (I’m a drummer). Correct they didn’t have click tracks then, but Dino was a human click track. Even some of the great rock drummers like Ginger & Keith had issues with timing (speeding up). Dino was like a metronome, absolutely perfect timing. Listen to his precision work and perfect fill on the tune you mentioned, “Love is a Beautiful Thing” or the precise, crisp, clean, exacting eight count break on “Good Lovin” Just great stuff.

My dad, a pit musician on Broadway always told me about the little known musical greats of his day. I always told my son about hidden artists like Dino, my son Zander, a Jimmy Iovine Interscope Artist and now lead singer with Mojave Grey turned me on to you. And like you, I was there, and weren’t we lucky!

Tom Z. Bleck


having spent a lot of time w dino and the band, gene, eddie, felix in 2012-2013, when stevie van zandt decided to make his dream come true, we produced a show that made it to broadway.

‘dino and the band were my heroes also.. meeting your heroes sometimes, doesnt work out.. this time is was BETTER THAN EVER!!!

the rascals touched everyone, i learned.
that deep connection w music is missing today.

we will never recover those times.

as stevie always said,
“we were lucky,
we lived in the golden age,
the renaissance”

i know we all leave at some time,
but the moments we are here,
is the golden time, always.
without negative thoughts or fear!

i will miss dino, HE WAS THE GREATEST,
and all my other friends, family,
that have walked the path with me.

marc brickman


Thanks Bob, for those words about Dino. He WAS special. His drum tracks, groove and live performances were what inspired many drummers. My friend Corky Laing and I in Montreal late 60s watching Dino on Sullivan were amazed at his confidence and showmanship. Couldn’t take our eyes off him!

Marty Simon


Thanks for the great write up on Dino Danelli. I first saw The Rascals in July of 67. Fantastic live band, but it was Dino who really blew me away. I had never really noticed a drummer before, but he was amazing. Twirled those stix yet never missed a beat. The Rascals were my favorite band for a long time and Dino was the glue that held it all together….

Jay Rosenberg


Great column. Loved the Rascals, they played my older sisters senior prom in ‘66, can you imagine I hung outside the gym just to listen.

Peter Roaman


Thanks for that.

Dino was an automaton you couldn’t take your eyes off.

Loved what you wrote. My paleolithic band opened for them twice, a fond memory.

They were the most amazing live 4 piece imaginable. Wow.

Rik Shafer


On the Underground Garage, Little Steven did a testimonial to the music event that changed his life and opened his eyes, the Rascals playing a gig in NYC back in the beginning. He described what he saw and felt in such a personal and powerful way, it made me long for the chance to have done the same.

John Brodey


Dino Danelli was the turbine in the engine that was the Rascals (especially the Young Rascals). His feel was always right on the front edge of the groove and he made everything just lean forward – but not enough to make the groove fall off the cliff, i.e. “Love is a Beautiful Thing”. With his head bobbin’ on every beat and his sticks spinnin’ in between, he was the man.

Rick Neigher


Saw Dino twirl those sticks of his as he drove the rockin’ soul of Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul live onstage. Always cognizant of and respectful of his forebears, Steven did audiences around the world a real service in providing them the opportunity to experience the second act of this talented artist. I count myself fortunate to have been amongst those who bore witness.

Rick Alexander


It was even special when I saw Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul in Nov. 1983 at the Palladium (former Academy of Music) that Dino played the Drums.
You focused on him!

Corey Bearak


This news hit hard. I suppose every music lover in the tri-state area considered the Young Rascals THEIR band. Early on, they played at tiny Eckman Center in Old Greenwich, CT twice a summer, at local after prom afterglow dances, at high schools and colleges. Like The Beatles, they were mature, professional and had honed their craft playing hard work gigs. I?ve seen most every band of their era excluding The Beatles and Elvis and they had an energy that I?ve never seen surpassed. Long before I started hitting the Fillmore East regularly, they began my musical education. The Hammond B3 and Dino were the centerpiece but Gene?s comping and Eddie?s tambourine and maracas workouts drove them to a maniacal pace.
Without a bass player other than Felix?s foot pedals. The soulful voices, the loose dance steps and most of all Dino made them a visual experience unlike any other. Ringo, Dino and Keith Moon were something to see and Dino was my favorite of them all. RIP.

William Nollman
Silvermine, CT


My first concert was definitely the Rascals, at Westchester Country Center, in White Plains, NY. I was a pre-teen and my mom drove me there.

They were thrilling. Full of moxie, musicality, unstoppable energy and joy.

Dino was not only a fantastic drummer, both flashy and supremely funky, but also a dead ringer for Paul McCartney, albeit filtered through an Italian/American lens. Several of the girls in my grade school class got a hold of his home number in Manhattan. All had mad crushes on him. When he’d answer, which he often did, they’d squeal, hyperventilate or just breathe over the phone line. He was patient and cool with them, asking their names and engaging with them, though they barely had the oxygen to converse with the man.

Along with many friends, I saw their reunion show at the Greek, in 2013. They played & sang their asses off, especially Dino, Felix & Gene. Felix’s distinctive, soulful voice was undiminished, and Gene & Dino rocked hard. Dino still had all his twirling the sticks tricks and flash in abundance, but never lost the strong feel and engine for the songs. The Cavaliere/Brigati songwriting team has a rich & prolific catalogue and those songs hold up beautifully. You’d Better Run. Lonely Too Long, How Can I Be Sure, People Got To Be Free, on and on. Super writing, performed with maximum gusto.

I’ll always deeply love the Rascals, and Dino held the hold shebang together. Much love and respect to Mr. Danelli upon his departure.

Fuzzbee Morse


Thank you Bob….I so loved The Rascals or the Young Rascals as they were known…Felix,Dino,Eddie and Gene…..having grown up in the Northeast I was able to see them play several times back in 66-67 in NYC and most exciting they were the band that played my High School Prom…being so up close to them in the gym was you say the bands were everything then… like being in front of royalty…RIP Dino…

Peter Wassyng


You’re correct, as you get older you wonder how the end will come. I try not to think about it too much.

Meanwhile, The Rascals. They had it all. Collections was probably my favorite. “Lonely Too Long” was so incredibly recorded. The pre delay on the lush echo chambers with the kick and the ghost hits on the snare SO F..KING IN THE POCKET! And was that a French horn also soaked in reverb, or just the perfect drawbar setting on Felix’s Hammond?

On the flip side when you cue up “Land of a Thousand Dances, you’d think every mic preamp was set to stun and record head on the tape machine was melting.

When I saw them live back in the 60s at the Capitol Theater in Bergenfield, NJ, I swear I had a hard time even seeing Dino behind what I thought was a 28” kick drum!

Too much!

And we all waited for the next Rascals album to come out. They went through a whole lot of changes. That’s what the record companies wanted. The never disappointed until they just couldn’t compete anymore.

What a rush 15 or 20 years ago when I was flying back to Boston from Nashville and there was Felix sitting in coach on a near empty plane. I had to ask…..

And he didn’t let me down.

Neither did Dino.

Rest in Peace.

Will Eggleston


I loved Dino so much as a kid. And later, when they got the band back together one more time on the Once Upon a Dream tour. Seeing them together as an adult was a dream come true to this kid. Felix still has the chops, singing better than ever with all his peaceful but firm bravado. Eddie and Gene were in great form too.

The serious but beautiful face that belonged to Dino, twirling sticks, always in the pocket! He never missed.

Those early Rascals albums were and still are my favourites. Those records taught me composition and drumming and how they worked together.

Dino was a lead instrument player like Ringo, Ginger, Bonzo and the great Danny Seraphine with Chicago. Not just drummers.

I am sad that he had such a rough time at the end of his life. He deserved better. He made so many people happy, but life and death just don’t care. It just happens. The great equalizer at work again.

Take care of your health, Hug your family and friends this Christmas and listen to some Rascals music. It’s Wonderful.

Danny Zelisko


Hi Bob,

I love this so much. Thank you for this beautiful tribute to Dino Danelli.

The Rascals were slightly before my time but I adored their songs, and one day years later I met Eddie Brigati at a songwriter’s conference in the Bay Area. It was around 1990 I think. He presented a class where he described having to go to the Library Of Congress after not being paid by the record company, and having to make copies of copyright forms showing he (they) had written those songs so he could get paid.

It was shocking.

After that class I was in the big room where I had my (first) CD for sale; where no one was biting or interested.

Eddie saw me and we started talking. After he heard that I was a Buddhist, he shared another story with me. He said when he was so down, he decided to end it all, and a friend asked him to please try one last thing, chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo…

He did this and came back to fight for his life and came back with his career, thank goodness. Bringing us to where we were then.

And then he picked up my CDs, handed me a pile of cash, and bought all of them. After that, he invited me to the after party for the “pros”. And when I got there by his invitation they wouldn’t let me in, cause I wasn’t on the “pro” list.

And then Eddie saw this, and he left that goddamn party – what a great guy.

A real person. He also told me more of the history of the band. It was great.

And no, I didn’t leave with him, and no, I didn’t sleep with him. Just two musicians, sharing stories. Thank you, Eddie, for encouraging a young songwriter, which I certainly was at that time. I’m forever grateful to him and everyone who came up to fight another day as an artist.

(ps- my new album is #35 on the jazz charts this week). I’m very grateful.

Peace, Love & Blessings,
Roberta Donnay


Bob – The Young Rascals were my first concert. Bushnell Memorial Auditorium in Hartford, CT. I was mesmerized by Dino. Everyone was. He put on an amazing show. The backbone of the band. They were so good!

A few years ago I ran into Felix after his show in Stamford. I told him they were my first concert. We chatted a bit then he said, “I remember Hartford because the show was running long and the promoter was worried about union overtime. He dropped the curtain on us in the middle of a song. We thought we were big shots. We learned.”

I still remember hearing Eddie’s voice from behind the curtain saying, “Goodnight everybody,” after the curtain fell on them. Quite a way to end my first concert experience.

RIP, Dino! What a showman! – t

Tony D’Amelio


The Young Rascals … great songs, great band … Felix, Gene, Eddie and Dino true earliest of the “rock stars” that were the American dream. And they had Dino twirling those sticks the epitome of cool.
RIP Dino Danelli
Charlie Brusco


Well Bob, if you saw them live, you know they were far more powerful in person than the records ever indicated. We opened for them in Atlantic City. Until then I’d thought of the Rascals as a pop act, but live, they had power and authority. Not at all lightweights. (I’d put Procol Harum in the same category – no recording ever conveyed the depth of what they presented live.)

Once in New York, after a gig I ended up in the same restaurant/bar as Eddie. He had a fake moustache and with his different look, was intent on not being “Eddie Brigati.” I didn’t go over and say “hi” to avoid drawing attention to him. It was the first time I saw a musician having to wear a disguise in public…that made me think.

Anyway, what made the Rascals special to me was the evenness of the band. Dino, of course, you know what he was about. Eddie was a frontman who didn’t act like the world owed him something, it seemed he always thought he owed the fans something. Gene Cornish didn’t do the guitarist-hogging-the-spotlight thing, but contributed to solid arrangements. Felix Cavailere – can’t say enough about him. A band without a bass player?!? C’mon! That held note in “Lonely too Long,” followed by the bass slide, was an epic moment in recording history. Well, at least to me. He sure knew how to massage that Hammond, and how to lay a powerful, soulful voice on top of it all.

You’re right, the era is over, everyone will be dead soon. But their music lives on, however imperfect the recordings. Worked for Beethoven, right? And all he had for his legacy was sheet music. We’re here to contribute as best we can, and move on, hopefully leaving the world a better place than we found it.

Craig Anderton


A sad loss.
My band auditioned for Sid Bernstein and though he didn’t sign us, he told us we should go see the Rascals. We went to see them at the Phone Booth in NY. This was before they had any hits. They were amazing. Dino was so serious and so solid and the stick spinning thing was amazing. What knocked me out the most, though, was Felix. He was mesmerizing. At the time I was playing a Wurlitzer in my band (because I loved Rod Argent in the Zombies) and I immediately traded it in for a Hammond B-3.
–albhy galuten


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