Tim Bogert, bassist and founding member of Vanilla Fudge, Cactus and supergroup Beck, Bogert & Appice, has reportedly died at age 76 following a battle with cancer.
His longtime bandmate, drummer Carmine Appice, shared the sad news via a Facebook post today. “He was like a brother to me. He was my friend for over 50 years,” Appice wrote. “Tim was a one of a kind bass player. He inspired many, many bass players worldwide. He was as masterful at shredding as he was at holding down a groove.”
Bogert was born Aug. 27, 1944 in New York City and grew up playing multiple instruments. After moving to New Jersey, he played saxophone in local band the Belltones, which later evolved into the Chessmen.
But after realizing the popularity of surf music, he switched to electric bass, the instrument that defined his career. In 1965, he co-founded the band the Pigeons with singer-keyboardist Mark Stein, guitarist Vince Martell and drummer Joey Brennan; they replaced the latter with Appice and eventually adopted the quirky moniker 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!”
That 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 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.
Vanilla Fudge broke up after a farewell show in 1970, with Bogert and Appice forming the short-lived hard rock act Cactus. That group issued four albums across a three-year span, including their 1970 self-titled LP.
Over the years, Bogert contributed to multiple projects and tours, including stints with Rick Derringer and Bob Weir‘s Bobby and the Midnites. 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.
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.
“It’s very nice, as one gets older, to know that you made a dent,” he told Vintage Guitar in 2005. “I like that, because as an older player, you don’t get to work a whole lot, so you take the accolades any place you can find them!”