By Mike Greenblatt
“Stick It: My Life of Sex, Drums and Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Carmine Appice with Ian Gittins (Chicago Review Press, Hardcover, $26.99) is loaded with sex. The drummer also comes clean on his times with Vanilla Fudge, Cactus, Beck, Bogert & Appice, Ozzy Osbourne, Rod Stewart, King Kobra, Pink Floyd and Prince. The Led Zeppelin stories alone are worth the price of admission. It stands out amongst the glut of rock star bios because Carmine knows what you want to read about. Did I mention all the sex?
“I tried reading that Keith Richards book and I couldn’t even get through it because there’s all this shit — some 200 pages worth — about his childhood. Who the f**k cares?” Carmine, obviously, pulls no punches. Here, he speaks exclusively to “Filled With Sound” about the publication of his memoir. When asked about getting fired from Ozzy, getting fired from Rod Stewart, seeing his baby brother Vinny rise to fame with Dio, divorced, depressed, unemployed … he starts getting desperate around the 200-page mark.
“There was really no reason for me to get fired from Rod’s band,” he explains. “I think (guitarist) Jim Cregan was putting ideas in Rod’s head at the Copa when they were drinking. He was jealous of me and always in Rod’s ear that he should have more of a role in the production. I don’t even think Rod knew why he was firing me. When they told me I was going to join Led Zeppelin, I said, “what are you talking about?” That was something Rod and I agreed upon doing to get press when we were on tour in 1980 when rumors were going around right after Bonzo died. I did get reimbursed from Rod for most of the money I would have made touring but that still wasn’t right to do to me. I mean, c’mon! I just spent months and months making the album (1981’s “Tonight I’m Yours”) and had my production credits knocked out. `They’re gonna use another drummer,’ my manager says, `you’re not going to put up with that. I’m gonna go sell a story to the press in the U.K. unless they take care of us.’ And, I have to admit, Rod took care of me. Rod stepped up to the plate on my behalf and proved to be a good guy all around.”
“Ozzy not so much. That kind of thing never happened to me while I was on the road in the midst of touring. I got fired because my name was too big? Sharon (Osbourne) blatantly said, “we want more of a side guy.” So I started King Kobra. I might have been down temporarily after Ozzy but once King Kobra was in action, I knew I’d get a record deal. And we did. And we made it fairly decently enough, I guess. I mean, we had no gold records but we’d do a few thousand people in Los Angeles and New York City. It was somewhat successful.”
During King Kobra auditions, image was just as important to you as the music as you were only accepting blonde-haired guys. That’s a riot.
“You know why? When I was on tour with Ozzy, everybody had black hair. Vince Neil was the only blonde guy on the tour (Motley Crue opened). It made me decide that when I get my own band together, I’d be the only black-haired guy. Everybody else had to be blonde. It would give the band a whole unique kind of look, y’know? And that’s what I did. And it was a great look. The guys were all very good-looking and they could really play. Unfortunately, the label never did their job so we never sold a whole hell of a lot of records. But we made money. We got $250,000 for a merch deal and another $350,000 to make the record. I put it all back into the band, pretty much.
And then the BulletBoys stole your music.
“Yeah, the song they had that one hit with, ‘Smooth Up In Ya,’ was a King Kobra song we were rehearsing and they stole it. Same with ‘Kissin’ Kitty’ and even their cover of ‘For The Love Of Money’ (The O’Jays) was my idea for King Kobra.
You ever talk to ‘em about it?
“Yeah. They tried to own up and satisfy me by giving me a gold record for my part in it but I said to them, `I’d rather have the writing royalties for co-writing those two songs.'”
So singer Marq Torien and guitarist Mick Sweda, two of the King Kobra blondes, rehearse with you, steal your songs, start their own band, get a deal and release that successful self-titled BulletBoys debut with three of the songs they rehearsed in King Kobra.
“Yeah, one good album and then bye-bye. What a shame.”
For the record, the BulletBoys have released 11 CDs to date but none of ’em except the 1988 debut is worth a good goddamn.