In case you’ve been out of touch one of our great Classic Soul and R&B musicians transitioned on Thursday.
His name was Dino Danelli.
Born to an Italian American Family in Jersey City, NJ on July 23, 1944. He started out as a Jazz drummer playing with the likes of Lionel Hampton in 1961 and later on R&B in New Orleans
The diversity of the urban landscape in America’s big cities has often created some strange bedfellows.
In East coast cities like Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York and Boston, R&B thrived but in an almost underground way for the mainstream. You know the old ‘Black stations at the end of the dial’ trope. They’re best in the daylight hours and they only played Blues, Jazz, Gospel and Rhythm and Blues.
These cities were to varying degrees integrated. This would include the period just before the great white flights to the burbs. Black and White often went to the same schools, participating in the same extracurricular activities including music.
There’d be black R&B bands and there’d be White R&B bands. This was before it was ‘popular’ to integrate outside of Jazz, Classical or in the studio.
During this time in the early 60’s Danelli met singer Eddie Brigatti and classically trained pianist Felix Cavalieri.
After a trip to Vegas failed to find success on the Vegas club circuit, Cavaliere and Danelli returned to NY. There, along with Brigatti they recruited Gene Cornish and the Young Rascals were formed.
One of the peculiarities of Pop, Classic Soul, R&B and even Funk is that almost all of the musicians who performed/recorded it were killer Jazz musicians. That’s where cats developed their ‘chops’ outside of their formal education and woodshedding.
While everyone was aware of and played Motown the real challenge was the ‘other’ stuff. The R&B coming out of Doo Wop and instrumental R&B. They’d cover the Stax/Volt stuff and the music coming out of the aforementioned East coast cities.
Cliff Nobles’ The Horse, Wilson Pickett’s Midnight Hour, Cannonball’s Mercy Mercy Me were the kinds of tunes these musicians were playing.
The drummers had very deep pockets which seemed to never move.
When you listen their Good Lovin, I’ve Been Lonely Too Long and People Got To Be Free you can hear what I’m talking about.
His kick drum provided the foundation for the kind of back beats required for those tunes.
Mr. Danelli reminded me in this way of Bob Angelucci of Harrisburg’s Magnificent Men, Carmen Appice of Vanilla Fudge and later guys like Gregg Errico of Sly, Danny Seraphin of Chicago and David Garibaldi of Tower of Power.
They all got their start learning and playing this hardcore R&B in their bars and clubs creating an underground soul scene few knew of outside of musicians.
Along with a few Rascals reunions Mr. Danelli formed a band called Bulldog in the 70’s as well as being a part of Steve Van Zandt’s Disciples of Soul in the 80’s.
The Rascals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.