Dino Danelli

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Dino Danelli is best-known as an original member of the Rascals, and was their drummer from 1964 until 1970. A jazz drummer by training, the New Jersey-born Danelli had played with Lionel Hampton, and…
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Dino Danelli is best-known as an original member of the Rascals, and was their drummer from 1964 until 1970. A jazz drummer by training, the New Jersey-born Danelli had played with Lionel Hampton, and later on switched to playing R&B in New Orleans. He later returned to New York with a band called Ronnie Speakes & the Elrods, and later went to work with such performers as Little Willie John. He chanced to meet Eddie Brigati, who at that time was working as a pickup singer on the local R&B circuit, and Felix Cavaliere, who had studied classical piano before switching to R&B. In late 1963, Danelli and Cavaliere moved to Las Vegas to try their luck with a casino house band. That gig lasted into early 1964, after which they were back in New York and Cavaliere was recruited into Joey Dee & the Starliters, whose ranks also came to include Eddie Brigati and a Canadian-born guitarist named Gene Cornish. Cavaliere, Brigati, and Cornish eventually quit the Starliters, and in January of 1965 Cavaliere and Danelli were back in Las Vegas, backing singer Sandu Scott -- but by February of that year they were back in New York, and Danelli was joining Cavaliere, Brigati, and Cornish in what became the Rascals. In addition to playing drums, in the early days, before Cavaliere and Brigati started composing, Danelli and Cavaliere were the two group members who would most often scout new repertory that they could do -- in a 1988 interview, he cited their trips to record stores as yielding such songs as "Mustang Sally" and "Good Lovin'." The Rascals' gig ended up lasting more than five years, into 1970, after which he left the group. He and Cornish later had another group together called Bulldog that lasted for two albums, enjoying a regional hit along the way. They later had a somewhat more long-lasting gig together in Fotomaker, initially with ex-Raspberries member Wally Bryson, which lasted into the end of the '70s. In 1980, Danelli joined Steven Van Zandt as a member of Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul, which proved to be his longest-lasting gig after the Rascals. There was a Rascals reunion tour in 1988, on which Cornish and Cavaliere also participated, and the four members did perform at their induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. In more recent years, Danelli has resumed working with Cornish in the New Rascals, who were touring as of 2009.