Drummer Dino Danelli, original member of The Young Rascals, dead at 78

Drummer Dino Danelli, an original member of the 1960s rock group The Young Rascals, has died. He was 78.

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Danelli’s death was confirmed by his friend, Rascals archivist Joe Russo, who made the announcement on the musician’s Facebook page on Thursday.

Danelli played drums on the band’s biggest hits, including “Good Lovin’,” “Groovin’,” “People Got to Be Free,” “A Beautiful Morning” and “How Can I Be Sure.” He left the group in 1971, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“To know Dino, you must understand that art was his life. Art, music and film consumed his mind and his heart,” Russo wrote in a follow-up Facebook post later Friday. “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.”

Danelli, who was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, on July 23, 1944, connected with Felix Cavaliere, Eddie Brigati and Gene Cornish to form The Young Rascals, USA Today reported. The band made its debut at the Choo Choo Club in Garfield, New Jersey, in 1965. The group changed its name to The Rascals in 1968.

The group had nine singles in the Billboard Hot 100, with “Good Lovin’” topping the charts in 1966. “Groovin’” hit No. 1 in 1967, and the civil rights anthem “People Got to Be Free” went to No. 1 in the wake of the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.

The group was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

Steven Van Zandt said he saw the band at New Jersey’s former Keyport Roller Drome in 1965. Bruce Springsteen was also in the audience, USA Today reported.

“They were absolutely amazing, and it was one of the most inspiring performances of my life,” Van Zandt told the Asbury Park Press in 2013. “It stayed with us, half rock, half soul, so we trace our roots very much to them.”

Danelli would perform with Van Zandt’s Disciples of Soul from 1982 to 1984, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“It is with a broken heart that I must tell you of the passing of Dino Danelli,” Rascals guitarist Gene Cornish wrote in a Facebook post. “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.”

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