Dino Danelli, who is the founding drummer for legendary rock and roll band The Rascals, has died at 78 years old. Danelli also was a member of the Disciples of Soul, the band that backs up Steven Van Zandt. The drummer’s death was confirmed on his Facebook page from a post written by Danelli’s friend and Rascals archivist Joe Russo.
No cause of death was given. Russo, though, said that Danelli’s “primary challenges” were coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure. Russo adds that Danelli’s health began to falter around 2018. Earlier this year, he went into a rehab facility where he remained until his death.
Rascals Guitarist, Steven Van Zandt Pay Tribute To Dino Danelli
Rascals guitarist Gene Cornish, on Facebook, wrote of Danelli, “He was my brother and the greatest drummer I’ve ever seen. I am devastated at this moment.” Cornish added in a separate post rhat Danelli “never cared about being a ‘rock star’ it was always about the music and art for him. Everything else was window dressing to him.”
Van Zandt also headed over to social media for his own tribute. He wrote, “RIP Dino Danelli. One of the greatest drummers of all time. Rascals 1965-1971. Disciples Of Soul 1982-1984. On Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theater in Once Upon A Dream 2013.”
Danelli, Rolling Stone reports, was born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey. Danelli started out as a jazz and R&B drummer. He started getting into rock and roll after linking up with a group called Ronnie Speeks and the Elrods. Then he picked up gigs around New York City, Las Vegas, and New Orleans. But he eventually would team up with Cornish, singer/keyboardist Felix Cavaliere, and vocalist Eddie Brigati to form the Young Rascals in 1965.
The Young Rascals had their first Number One in 1966 with their rendition of Rudy Clark and Arthur Resnick’s “Good Lovin’.” Their debut album came out that same year and was certified Gold by the RIAA. It had a cover photo featuring the band in their Little Lord Fauntleroy-style shirts. Then, in 1967, the Young Rascals had a second Number One with “Groovin’,” a signature track penned by Cavaliere and Brigati.
In 1968, the Rascals dropped the “Young” from their name. Still, they were quite successful thanks to singles like “A Beautiful Morning” and “People Got to Be Free.” Those songs popped up on their album, Once Upon a Dream. The Rascals kept on releasing Top 40 tracks with decent regularity but the group failed to match their biggest success. In 1971, the Rascals split. Danelli would essentially go back to gigging around. He and Cornish formed the band Bulldog and it released two albums before splitting in 1975.