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Dino Danelli, founding drummer of The Rascals, dies aged 78

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Dino Danelli, the founding drummer of The Rascals, died on Thursday. He was 78 years old.

“It is with a heavy heart that I must tell you of the passing of Dino Danelli,” Rascals guitarist Gene Cornish wrote to People. “He was my brother and the greatest drummer I’ve ever seen. I’m devastated right now. Rest in peace Dino, I love you brother.”

Danelli’s death was confirmed by Joe Russo, friend and archivist of the band. He wrote on Facebook that Danelli’s “main challenges” were coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure. His health began to deteriorate in 2017, Russo said.

Danelli was born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey, according to Rolling Stone. He played drums for jazz bands and performed in New York, Las Vegas and New Orleans before forming The Young Rascals in 1965 with Cornish, Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati.

Their self-titled debut album the following year was certified Gold by the RIAA and coincided with their first No. 1 song, a rendition of “Good Lovin'” by Rudy Clark and Arthur Resnick. The Young Rascals’ second No. 1 song, “Groovin'”, was released a year later.

The Rascals broke up in 1971, but later reunited.

Ron Galella via Getty Images

“To know Dino, you must understand that art was his life,” wrote Russo. “Art, music and cinema consumed his mind and heart. He was insomniac, sometimes he stayed awake for days, because he was always writing, reading, painting, drawing, watching movies.”

The Rascals dropped the “Young” from their name in 1968 and enjoyed continued success with their “Once Upon a Dream” album and several Top 40 songs. 1975.

Danelli joined several bands throughout the 1980s, including Fotomaker and Steven Van Zandt’s Disciples of the Soul. He designed the cover of the latter’s 1987 album, “Freedom – No Compromise”.

“He was the epitome of ‘cool’ and never failed to impress me with his seemingly endless reservoir of ideas and approaches,” wrote Russo. “The word ‘artist’ is so commonly used…but let me assure you that Dino Danelli possessed…a skill set as profound as any of the great artists you’ll ever read about.”

The Rascals toured together in 1988 and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. They officially reunited in 2012 and released “The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream”, a musical production that chronicled the band’s history.

“Once Upon a Dream” narrates the history of the Rascals.

Larry Marano via Getty Images

This nostalgic production ended up being canceled after a few years, breaking up The Rascals once again.

“Dino was deeply disappointed by the abrupt conclusion of the Rascals’ triumphant ‘Once Upon A Dream’ reunion in late 2013,” wrote Russo. “He asked me to help him with several approaches, and I did, but it wasn’t meant to be…[and] his artistic spirit began to drift away.

Friends such as Van Zandt, Billy Joel and Paul Stanley paid tribute to the musician after his death: