Tim Bogert – (Vanilla Fudge) Born John Voorhis Bogert III on Aug. 27, 1944 in New York City, he grew up playing multiple instruments. When Tim was eight years old, he was already riding his bicycle to piano lessons. The piano lessons, however, were soon replaced by Little League. Music was in him, though and at thirteen, Little League was then replaced by a clarinet. Soon thereafter, Tim picked up the saxophone and played in his high school marching band. Time was living in New Jersey by now and he met a friend named Dale. They formed a band called The Belltones with Tim playing sax and made good money playing gigs around New Jersey at high school dances and VFW halls. This band evolved into The Chessmen.
The Chessmen were introduced by WADO disk jockey Allen Fredericks, who helped them get gigs backing up doowop groups such as The Shirelles, The Crest, The Earl, and The Doves. The Chessmen were now playing New York City. With the advent of surf music which didn’t have much sax, Tim Bogert then picked up the electric bass.
After Tim left high school, he was in and out of a number of bands in the NYC area. In 1965, he went on a lounge tour of the Eastern Seaboard with Rick Martin and the Showmen, where he met Mark Stein, the keyboardist and vocalist. The two of them hit it off, and they soon left to join with drummer Joey Brennan and guitarist Vince Martell to form their own band, The Pigeons. After recording an album called “While the World was Eating”, they replaced drummer Joe Brennan with Carmine Appice and changed the name of the band to Vanilla Fudge.
“We had just gotten a recording contract from Atlantic Records, and the name Pigeons was taken, so in a couple of hours we had to think of a new name,” Bogert told For Bass Players Only in 2010. “Mark’s cousin’s nickname was ‘Vanilla Fudge’ — no, I don’t know why — and this name was picked and agreed to by everyone. It had nothing to do with blue-eyed soul!”
The band, known for fusing strains of psychedelia and proto-metal, mingled originals with cover songs on their early albums, including heavy takes on the Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride” and Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready.” Their 1967 take on the Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” served as the soundtrack to the climatic scene of Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
The song that took them to the top was a cover of the Supremes, titled “You keep me hanging on. According to Mark Stein, he and Tim were “hanging out” one day in early 1967 when You Keep Me Hanging On by The Supremes came on the radio. They both agreed that the words were very soulful and that the song was too fast. Tim replies that they took the idea to slow it down back to Vince and Carmine. They performed it that night and refined the arrangement over the next few weeks and the rest is history. It was recorded in one take and that’s the version we’ve been listening to for fifty years! The album soared to number 3 on the national charts behind The Beatles and The Supremes. It stayed on the charts for over 200 weeks! The first notes Tim plays in the intro to this symphonic rock piece indicate his incredible speed and his unique ability take you on a “bass trip” while continuously doing what a bass player is supposed to do; holding down the bottom and completing the rhythm section. This was the emerging Tim Bogert style.
Tim recorded five albums with Vanilla Fudge between 1967 and 1969. As Vanilla Fudge matured, so did his style, on both the melodic and rhythmic sides. His “bass trips” became even more imaginative, utilizing more effects and greater speed, yet his rhythmic grooves were just as awesome. These techniques are prevalent on the Some Velvet Morning and Break Song cuts on the Near the Beginning album. Tim and drummer Carmine Appice became undoubtedly the tightest rhythm section in rock.
The quartet released five studio albums during their ’60s run, all of which cracked the top 40 of the Billboard 200: 1967’s gold-selling Vanilla Fudge, 1968’s The Beat Goes On and Renaissance; and 1969’s Near the Beginning and Rock & Roll.
Following the breakup of Vanilla Fudge in March of 1970, Tim went on with Carmine to form Cactus with guitarist Jim McCarty (Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels), and vocalist Rusty Day(Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes). About the name says Tim, “Carmine and I were lying in the back of a limo on the way home from a gig in Arizona. We were talking about leaving the Fudge. We passed under a sign that read ‘ The Cactus Drive-In’ . It was the easiest band name we ever thought of. “
This high energy rockin’ blues band gave Tim the opportunity to further prove his ability to fill the gaps in what was essentially an instrumental trio, while maintaining his meaty, melodic style. After three studio albums, Jim McCarty left the band and was replaced by an unknown guitarist, Werner Friching, from Germany that they met in New York. Carmine once said that he and Tim had trouble with many guitarists because the two of them were “crazy musicians from New York” and were too high energy. Well, so much the loss for the guitar players! With the addition of keyboardist Duane Hitchings, from the original Buddy Miles Express and a new vocalist, Pete French, from Atomic Rooster, they recorded a fourth album ‘Ot ‘n Sweaty in 1972. This Cactus version, lasted only another seven months before breaking up completely.
The Bogert/Appice rhythm section then teamed up once again. This time with the legendary Jeff Beck. Beck, Bogert, and Appice was the new supergroup. Tim and Carmine had wanted to team up with Beck for a long time. Jeff had called them up to do a session with Stevie Wonder and were asked to join the Jeff Beck Group. They left Cactus and did a national tour with Beck.
Their rendition of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition was an instant hit. Vanilla Fudge harmonies, provided by Tim and Carmine, were evident in Lady. BBA’s live album from Japan, which was coincidentally only released in Japan and is now a collectors item, displayed the intense energy they became known for. Ray Manzerek of The Doors described BBA as “one of the great power trios of all time.”
Ultimately, Tim dissolved his partnership with Beck and moved from New York to Los Angeles.
“I did nothing for six months. Just rode my motorcycle. Then I teamed up with Steve Perry for two years.” Tim met Steve at a rehearsal studio and they put a band together called Pieces.”
After that, Tim went to England to do one session and wound up staying for three and a half years. While there, he joined a band with Chris Stainton called Boxer. They recorded one album and toured England. 1979 found Tim back in California mainly living the life of a freelance musician working local clubs on a casual basis and doing his share of studio dates with the likes of Rod Stewart on his “Foolish Behaviour” album and Bo Diddley on his “20th Anniversary of Rock ‘N’ Roll album.
“After that I went back to Europe to live in Italy for seven months to do session work and tour.” Upon his return to Los Angeles, Tim joined Bobby and the Midnights with Billy Cobham and Bob Weir. That took him on another tour of the U.S. for a year and a half. The following year, Tim toured nationally with Rick Derringer.
Bogert then joined Bobby and the Midnites, a side project formed by Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead. Though he toured with the group, Bogert left before their debut album was released, joining the U.K. group Boxer in 1977. In 1981, Bogert became a faculty member at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, but continued to record, releasing his second album, “Master’s Brew,” in 1983 and releasing “Mystery” with Vanilla Fudge in 1984.
Over the years, Bogert contributed to multiple projects and tours, including stints with Rick Derringer, Steve Perry, Rod Stewart and others. He also participated in reunions with Vanilla Fudge and Cactus, including the former band’s 2007 record, Out Through the In Door, and the latter group’s 2006 LP, Cactus V.
In 1999, Bogert was recognized by the Hollywood Rock Walk of Fame for his contributions to the genre. Bogert continued to tour with various groups until he retired. In August of 2005, Tim was involved in a serious motorcycle accident which left him unable to perform for a couple of years.
In August 2007, the all original Vanilla Fudge reunited again for a concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City with Deep Purple, and continued to tour into 2008.
In 2009, resulting problems from the motorcycle accident forced Tim to reluctantly retire from touring. He was still doing session work locally in Simi Valley, California and over the Internet.
According to Bogert’s official biography, he “reluctantly” retired from touring in 2010 due to “resulting problems” from a motorcycle accident. He did, however, continue to do local session work. In 2020, Vanilla Fudge recorded “Stop In The Name Of Love”. At their invitation, Tim rejoined his buddies for this track, which would be his last recording as he was fighting cancer.
After a long battle with cancer Tim Bogert died on January 13, 2021.
“I loved Tim like a brother. He will be missed very much in my life. I will miss calling him, cracking jokes together, talking music, and remembering the great times we had together, and how we created kick-ass music together,” Carmine Appice wrote . “Perhaps the only good thing about knowing someone close to you is suffering a serious illness, is you have an opportunity to tell them that you love them, and why you love them. I did that, a lot. I was touched to hear it said back to me. Nothing was left unsaid between us and I’m grateful for that. I highly recommend it. Rest in peace, my partner. I love you. See you on the other side.”