Dino Danelli, drummer for The Rascals, dies at the age of 78


Dino Danelli, in front, with The Rascals on the cover of their self-titled 1966 solo album.

Dino Danelli, the Rascals drummer who played on hits such as “Good Lovin’,” “Groovin’,” “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long” and “People Got to Be Free,” has died, at the age of 78.

“It is with a broken heart that I must tell you of the passing of Dino Danelli,” Rascals co-founder Gene Cornish wrote on his own Facebook page. “He was my brother and the greatest drummer I’ve ever seen. I am devastated at this moment. Rest In Peace Dino I love you brother.”

“Our beloved Dino passed away today,” wrote Rascals expert Joe Russo on Danelli’s Facebook page. “I will say more in the near future about his incredible talent and share experiences from his life he relayed to me, as well as ones we spent as friends and collaborators. I hope you will all continue to appreciate his talent and send him your love. Thank you for supporting his various endeavors throughout his career. You all made it possible for him to live his dream, which was to be a musician and artist.”

“He was my inspiration and a dear friend,” posted drummer Liberty Devitto, best known for his work with Billy Joel. “Rest in peace Dino Danelli. You will always be in my heart.”

Born and raised in Jersey City, Danelli formed The Rascals (originally known as The Young Rascals) in 1964 with Cornish, singer-keyboardist Felix Cavaliere and singer Eddie Brigati. They debuted at The Choo Choo Club in Garfield.

They had a minor hit, “I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore,” in 1965, and their first No. 1 smash, “Good Lovin’,” in 1966. Their sound was sometimes described as blue-eyed soul.

Danelli remained in the group until they broke up in 1972, and later played with Steven Van Zandt’s Disciples of Soul. He took part in the Rascals reunion shows of 2012 and 2013 that included a Broadway run with a show titled “The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream.” Van Zandt co-directed and co-produced the show, which featured performances by the band but also told the story of their career.

When he inducted The Rascals into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, Van Zandt said, “Some people may not realize it, but The Rascals were the first rock band in the world. In the ’50s, you know, we had vocal groups and solo people. And then, in the ’60s, on the West Coast, you had The Beach Boys, but they really were a vocal group and they became a band later. We also had The Byrds, but (Roger) McGuinn really did that first record by himself, and then they became a band later. And OK, over there in England, some guys were making some noise. But in the real world — in the center of the universe, New Jersey — The Rascals were the first band!”

In the speech, Van Zandt also called Danelli “the greatest rock drummer ever.”

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