How his time in Vanilla Fudge, Cactus and Beck, Bogert & Appice set the scene for sludge rock and stoner metal
It will be 25 years this fall that my good buddy Keith Spillett turned me onto Vanilla Fudge, whose bassist Tim Bogert passed away at 76.
Knowing what a big fan I was of heavy stuff off labels like Touch & Go and Amphetamine Reptile, he hailed the trio of bassist Tim Bogert, guitarist Vince Martell, keyboardist Mark Stein and drummer Carmine Appice as “The Melvins of the mid-60s.” And when I heard their eponymous 1967 debut for the very first time, I was indeed washed over by the pure volume of their down-tuned takes on The Beatles’ “Ticket To Ride,” The Zombies’ “She’s Not There” and their smash version of the Supremes’ Holland-Dozier-Holland hit “You Keep Me Hanging On”.
In fact, upon my initial impression, hearing them deconstruct these cherished 60s faves, which also included the Curtis Mayfield standard “People Get Ready,” Sonny Bono’s “Bang Bang” and a downright apocalyptic version of “Eleanor Rigby” turned my perception about this group on my ear. I always thought Vanilla Fudge was another one of those corny hippie bands whose name I’d see scrolling across the screen during those terrible Freedom Rock commercials that MTV would air every hour in the late 80s. But sitting there in my friend’s living room and hearing this first Vanilla Fudge LP, I realized I just experienced the true Genesis of the sound that would be called “stoner rock” or “stoner metal” as it were. Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Queens of the Stone Age, Sleep, Mastodon. They all go back to Vanilla Fudge. The Pacific Northwest scene in the late 80s/early 90s that gave us Soundgarden, Earth, Alice In Chains and Green River/Mudhoney also traces back to Vanilla Fudge. Kurt Cobain surely had their first album in his collection.
Led Zeppelin opened for them, not the other way around.
VIDEO: Tim Bogert The Ultimate Beginner Series
Tim Bogert was the anchor for the band’s half-speed heaviness–a deft combination of Macca’s nimbleness and the rumble of The Ox. He was also a fantastic lead singer as well, as the video above clearly shows.. Along with drummer Carmine Appice, they created one of the most monstrous rhythm sections in rock ‘n’ roll. And not just with the Fudge. Bogert and Appice also served in two other bottom-heavy groups in Cactus and Beck, Bogert & Appice with guitar legend Jeff Beck, further establishing their dominance through the 1970s.
In fact, it was Appice who broke the news on his Facebook page about the man he called his brother and friend of over 55 years.
“Tim was a one of a kind bass player,” he wrote. “He inspired many, many bass players worldwide. He was as masterful at shredding as he was holding down a groove, and Tim introduced a new level of virtuosity into rock bass playing. No one played like Tim. He created bass solos that drove audiences to a frenzy every time he played one. And he played a different solo every night. He was the last of the legendary 60s bass players.
“Tim was a very intelligent person. So intelligent that we would call him ‘Spock’. You could ask him anything and he would know something about it.
“I loved Tim like a brother. He will be missed very much in my life. I will miss calling him, cracking jokes together, talking music and remembering the great times we had together, and how we created kick-ass music together.
“Perhaps the only good thing about knowing someone close to you is suffering a serious illness, is you have an opportunity to tell them that you love them, and why you love them. I did that, a lot. I was touched to hear it said back to me. Nothing was left unsaid between us and I’m grateful for that. I highly recommend it.
“Rest in peace, my partner. I love you. See you on the other side.”
My dad grew up in West Hempstead on Long Island, he would reveal to me that he used to hang out with the guys in Vanilla Fudge, who were all from that area as well, during the band’s prefab days. He didn’t have too many crazy stories to share, but it was cool that he was down with these cats. It certainly helped me appreciate both the band and my father all the more, and made me wish I discovered that connection when I was younger.
But there’s the thing: I don’t think I could have truly appreciated Vanilla Fudge had my first experience listening to them–blazed out of my mind at my friend’s apartment in college–without all those years of Dirt, Badmotorfinger and Houdini in my tape deck during much of the 90s.
In memory of Tim Bogert, I put together this mixtape of Fudge, Cactus and BBA cuts for your consideration.
Rest In Peace to one of the original thunder gods of heavy rock.