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  • Dino Danelli died on December 15.
  • He was the drummer for the band The Rascals.
  • A former bandmate said it was ‘always about the music’ for him.

Dino Danelli had a remarkable life. As a longtime musician and member of The Rascals, (previously The Young Rascals) established in 1964, he was the “greatest drummer I’ve ever seen,” according to bandmate Gene Cornish. “It is with a broken heart that I must tell you of the passing of Dino Danelli,” Gene first broke the news via his personal Facebook page, alongside a black and white throwback photo and a more recent pic. “He was my brother and the greatest drummer I’ve ever seen. I am devastated at this moment. Rest In Peace Dino I love you brother.” Dino was reportedly 78 at the time of his death.

Here’s what to know about the influential musician as tributes begin to pour in.

He was a Hall Of Famer.

Dino Danelli
Dino Danelli performs in Hollywood, Florida, on May 24, 2013. (

Dino was a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and was inducted along with The Rascals into the legendary pantheon of musicians in 1997. All four original group members, including Gene, Eddie Brigati, Dino, and Felix Cavaliere, performed at the event.

He was originally trained as a jazz drummer.

According to Dino’s official Wikipedia page, he was a Jazz drummer by training. He played R & B in New Orleans and played with a band called Ronnie Speeks & the Elrods in the early 1960s, as well as working with Little Willie John and Jazz icon Lionel Hampton before embarking on his most famous gig with The Rascals.

Dino was a ‘private person.’

Though fans are wondering exactly what led the drummer’s death, friend Joe Russo shared a post on the band’s archived Facebook page revealing that he couldn’t answer everything yet because Dino was “the most private person I knew,so I must weigh the level of detail to this story with my duty to provide some level of closure to his public.” However, it appears Dino was aware that he would pass. “One day, he asked me to pick him up from a doctor’s visit,” Gene wrote, explaining that in 2017 he noticed “subtle changes in his movements and ability to walk steady.”  “We returned to his apartment where he began indicating to me certain wishes he would like honored after his passing,” he wrote. “It wasn’t alarming for a man his age to do so, but it seemed unusually sudden and out of left field.”

The drummer was also a visual artist.

The Rascals
Dino Danelli and The Rascals in New York City (

Dino Danelli was also a visual artist, and according to his Wikipedia page, created album covers both for his own band The Rascals and Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul. But more importantly, according to pal Joe Russo, he was an artist to his very core. “To know Dino, you must understand that art was his life. Art, music and film consumed his mind and his heart,” Joe wrote via Facebook. “He was an insomniac, sometimes staying awake for days, because he was always writing, reading, painting, drawing, watching films. He was beyond private and for someone who many consider one of the greatest drummers of all time, humble to a fault.”

Bandmate Gene agreed on his own Facebook page. “I wish I could answer all of your questions but as most of you know Dino was a very private person,” he wrote. “I will say this, Dino never cared about being a ‘rock star’ it was always about the music and art for him. Everything else was window dressing to him,” he wrote in part.

He’s a New Jersey boy.

Dino was born in New Jersey on July 23, 1944, to an Italian American family. As his talents developed, he eventually branched out to New York, New Orleans, and even Las Vegas on his road to fame.

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