Vinny Appice: Leaving His Mark

May 2012 Modern Drummer cover Vinny Appice

May 2012 cover star Vinny Appice is a true rock ’n’ roll journeyman—identifiable not by his work with one particular band but by his flawless contributions to a long list of hard-rock luminaries. In this Web-exclusive supplement to his print feature, Vinny shares a couple of fun stories from his long and winding career, beginning with a strange tale of gig-transport woes….


by “Pistol” Pete Kaufmann


Vinny: I was on the Dehumanizer tour with Sabbath in 1992. Grunge had taken the spotlight, so Sabbath is now playing smaller places—1,500- to 2,000-seaters—but we’re filling them up. Before a show at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia, we’d stayed at a hotel and then had a limo to take us to the gig. Usually we had two limos or a tour bus to take us, but this time we only had this one old limo. So Tony [Iommi], Geezer [Butler], Ronnie [James Dio], the keyboard player [Gerry Woodruffe], and I get in, and this thing is not running so good, plus we’re going through some bad neighborhoods. As we’re driving, we’re like, “We’re not going to make it.” Then the thing breaks down—a block and a half from the Tower Theater. Stops dead. It’s cold out, and we’re like, “Now what”? So they radioed the police, and all these cops come and push us—right up to the driveway of the theater! There’s a whole bunch of fans out there, and the crowd starts cheering. We’re cracking up, going, “What a way to enter a gig!”

MD: The life of a rock star, right?

Vinny: That’s the thing about the music business—there are ups and downs. You get used to Learjets and limos, and all of a sudden you’re taking a Holiday Inn van to the gig, which is what we did on that tour. But Tony, Geezer, and Ronnie were cool with it because they believed in the music—they just wanted to play. Advertisement

MD: Metal dipped pretty hard around that time.

Vinny: I just did an interview with Dave Grohl two days ago, and I told him that grunge kicked us. “It was because of you guys, you bastard!” [laughs]

MD: Dave was actually influenced by heavier drummers like you.

Vinny: Dave and Taylor Hawkins used to listen to Mob Rules and Holy Diver. They were like, “Dude, we drummed to that every day.”

When the Foo Fighters and Sabbath were both on the Ozzfest show at Milton Keynes in 1998, Dave and Taylor saw my drums on stage and went to look at them—“Dude, here’s the drumset!” They were fans. Here’s Dave Grohl, who I look up to…. First of all, he’s an amazing drummer and such a talented musician, and he’s telling me this—what a compliment. Such a great guy.

MD: Many people are unaware that you spent time with John Lennon at the Record Plant, while you were recording there with your band at the time.

Vinny: Yeah, he’d hang out with us. We talked a lot, and one time we started talking about Italian food. I tell him about my mother’s lasagna—it’s the real deal. So my mother made him a pan of lasagna, and I brought it to the Record Plant and said, “This is from my mother.” He was happy, took it home. Then about a month later, [my brother] Carmine is playing Madison Square Garden with Rod Stewart. My parents go to the show, and backstage my mother goes up to John and introduces herself. He hugs her and gives her a kiss, and she asks, “Did you like the lasagna”? He says, “Oh, I loved the lasagna!” She goes, “Did you bring the pan back”? We were cracking up!