This page turning book, written by Carmine with the help of Ian Gittins, tells of the amazing, fifty year plus year journey of one of the most influential, innovative and well known rock drummers of all, and one who has seen and done everything that someone could dream of in living a proverbial rock star life.
Growing up in Borough Park, Brooklyn, a very Jewish and Italian area of NYC, Carmine hung with gangs as a teenager and indulged in some of their hoodlum activities. At least a couple of the other guys wound up going to jail or dying from overdosing. Or were snuffed out from Mafia related reasons upon getting involved with organized crime. Carmine decided that he wasn’t going to go in that doomed direction, and was determined to make it in music instead. After toiling in some other groups trying to make it he joined The Pigeons, another local band, after being highly impressed with their musicianship. They changed their name to the much more interesting Vanilla Fudge when a female fan said after a concert that they sounded like a white soul band, like vanilla fudge. They also found an effective manager in Phil Basile, in good part because he was connected to the mob and owned a big and popular club in Long Island to have them be the house band for.
Fame hit in ‘67 when the band scored a spot on the hugely coveted Ed Sullivan show to perform their slowed down, heavy and organ soaked hit cover of The Supremes’ You Keep Me Hangin’ On. With Sullivan’s variety show breaking open careers, and with the show having a staggering and unheard of 73 million viewers glued to their televisions for the appearance of The Beatles three years earlier in ‘64, this moment would be Carmine’s high water mark, and all at the age of 21. And luckily it happened when it did as Sullivan’s show was cancelled in ‘71 by CBS after a 23 year run when its ratings had dipped significantly.
Carmine discusses a range of interesting tales, such as spending time with Jimi James in The Village in NYC as they were both gigging. James would go on to become a sensation in London and then the world as Jimi Hendrix. Among many other things, we learn of perpetual trashing of hotel rooms, having newly formed Led Zeppelin open for the Fudge on Zep’s first American tour in ‘68, indulging in approximately 4,500 groupies, being in band with Jeff Beck (and how mercurial he is) and sexual tag team buddy/bassist Tim Bogert as BBA in the early ‘70’s, playing with mega star and former Jeff Beck Group singer Rod Stewart for several years and touring the world first class with him, touring with Ozzy Osbourne and then being fired by Ozzy’s wife and manager Sharon when she felt he was grabbing too much attention as a big name, getting married five times, and finally finding his soul mate in the 2000’s, radio personality Leslie Gold, with whom Carmine is still happily with. While Carmine, now 69, has settled down, this book looks all the way back and lets it all hang out. Plus there are great photos in it, with one taken by me. Go get it.