Veteran drummer Vinny Appice (LAST IN LINE, BLACK SABBATH, DIO, HEAVEN & HELL) was recently interviewed by Jay Conroy of "Rock Hard With Jay Conroy". The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On playing with John Lennon as a 16-year-old:
Vinny: "The band I had at the time was kind of like a funk-rock band. We had four horn players, and the guitar player was good friends with Jimmy Iovine, who worked at [the New York City recording studio] The Record Plant producing. He was a big producer before all the Interscope and BeatsAudio thing he did. He was producing John Lennon at the time, and he heard us and brought us into the studio. Basically, that led to a management contract, so we were there all the time. We had our own rehearsal room for free, which is killer in Manhattan. One night, he said, 'Can you guys come down and do some hand claps?' We said sure, so we went down the studio. We walk in, and there's John Lennon. We're, like, 'Holy shit. I can't believe it.' Then we put on headphones, [and] now he's talking to us. You go, 'This is amazing.' We did hand claps on the song 'Whatever Gets You Through The Night'. That's me and my band on that doing hand claps. Then we left. A couple days later, we're rehearsing and John comes walking in our room [and] watches us rehearse. We got to know him pretty well — he would come up a lot, and we would even play pool with him. Then he asked us to do some videos with him — we did three videos as the band that were on some of his DVDs. He also produced the owner of The Record Plant's wife — she was a singer — so we went in and recorded eight songs with him as producer, which was really cool. The last thing we did, he asked us to do a live show that was broadcast all around the world on TV. It was taped at the New York Hilton. I found out a couple years ago, that was his last live appearance. I [had] to go to school the next day, because I was only 16. I was still in high school."
On being courted by both OZZY OSBOURNE and BLACK SABBATH:
Vinny: "I got a call from Sharon Osbourne, [who] said, 'Ozzy's putting a band together. We heard about you, and we want to fly you to England and hang out with Ozzy, see how it goes, see if you guys get along.' I was young — I'd never been out of the country, except for Canada — and then I asked my brother [drummer Carmine Appice], 'What about Ozzy? I've heard he's pretty nuts. Is he nuts?' Carmine [goes], 'Yeah, he's pretty crazy,' so I didn't do it — I turned it down, believe it or not. About a month later, I get a call from SABBATH. It was like, 'Oh, man — what a good year.' It was easy for me to go down — I just drove into Hollywood and met Tony [Iommi] the night before at the hotel, and we got along great. He said, 'All right, come down to rehearsal tomorrow.' That's when I met Ronnie [James Dio], Geezer [Butler] and Geoff Nicholls on keyboards."
On the falling out between Dio and guitarist Vivian Campbell, and how the DIO band changed after "Holy Diver":
Vinny: "Unfortunately, there was a guitar player change. Vivian did the first three albums with us [in DIO]. Then Ronnie and Vivian weren't seeing eye to eye because of business things that were promised that never materialized. They replaced Viv with Craig Goldy. Craig's a great player; he's a great guy; he's a good friend; but as the years went on, the band changed. The sound changed a bit, and there were more keyboards added. It was not a good idea to do that. 'Holy Diver', which was hugely successful and still is, that album, we went into Sound City — we rehearsed there and recorded there. We used to go in there and just smoke a lot of pot and jam and have a great time — just fuck around and try all sorts of shit. It was, like, anything goes, and we made a great album. 'Last In Line', we went up to Caribou Ranch in Colorado to do the album, so we were secluded, and then Ronnie started taking too much control of the production and stuff, and the word 'can't' came into the equation — 'Well, we can't do that'... Then we had keyboards at that point too — Claude Schnell was on keyboards — and then we started bringing in more keyboards, which mellowed it out some. There's not the raw riffs of 'Holy Diver'. Then the next album was about the same thing – it got a little more planned-out rather than a crazy bunch of guys on fire in the room, so the sound changed."
On the DIO hologram tour, and whether he would ever play with a hologram himself:
Vinny: "In my opinion, I don't know if Ronnie would dig that or not. I can't answer that — I don't even know what it looks like. I think it would be very strange for me to do that, because I'm used to seeing Ronnie in front of me. I've seen Ronnie's ass for 30-something years in front of me. Now I'm going to see the back of a screen? It would be freaky for me."
Appice performed on six of the first seven DIO studio albums, as well as the live albums "Intermission" and "Inferno – Last In Live". He also appears on two BLACK SABBATH studio album (1981's "The Mob Rules" and 1992's "Dehumanizer") and the sole studio album by HEAVEN & HELL, 2009's "The Devil You Know".
Currently, Appice is a member of LAST IN LINE, whose latest album, "II", was released in February via Frontiers Music Srl.