The World’s Heavy Metal music community is in mourning over the passing of Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali who died Thursday, August 20th after a valiant 16-month battle with Stage 1V Pancreatic Cancer.
The 68-year old New York native is known for being part of the Quiet Riot quartet, which also consisted of lead vocalist Kevin DuBrow, bassist Rudi Sarzo and guitarist Carlos Cavazo who earned the distinction of being the first heavy metal band to top the Billboard album chart in 1984 when their `Mental Health’ album knocked The Police’s Synchronicity off that pinnacle, selling more than six million copies in the process. They enjoyed success covering a Slade single “Cum On Feel The Noize” when the British Glam Rock band couldn’t get arrested in North America with their original version.
And Quiet Riot would follow up that initial success by scoring a hit with another Slade hit, “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” off their follow up “Condition Critical” released in 1984.
But to what extent Quiet Riot was stealing Slade’s thunder was only compounded August 17th, 1984 at Toronto’s CNE Stadium when they shared the bill with Germany’s Scorpions and two top Canadian heavy metal acts; Helix and Kick Axe. An incident backstage led me to almost punch out lead vocalist Kevin DuBrow while Banali and guitarist Sarzo cheered me on from the sidelines.
During Quiet Riot’s set, DuBrow urges the crowd, “Put your hands in the air, everybody, everywhere, put your hands in the air” which is a direct steal from Slade’s crowd chant from their great `Slade Alive’ album, released in 1972.
Backstage amidst a collection of trailers that constituted the various bands dressing rooms, I am waiting to meet up with the guys from Helix with whom I had just toured Europe with as they promoted their `No Rest For The Wicked” album by opening for Kiss.
During my wait I observe DuBrow being interviewed by some local radio deejay who asks him if the band was overly influenced by Slade. “No not at all, we’ve covered a couple of their songs but in no way are we influenced by them” This was too much to hear for yours truly, a fanatic Slade fan.
“What the fuck are you talking about,” said I striding toward the diminutive Mr. DuBrow. “Not only do you nick their songs but you also nick their stage chants. Quiet Riot is totally influenced by Slade.”
“You’re full of it” (or words to that effect!), says he, as he moves forward to get in my face, and honestly, in the mood, I was in at that moment, I probably would have decked the little shrimp. But fortunately for him, some burly security guard who was observing the fracas stepped between me and DuBrow and hustled him back into his trailer.
“Good one!” shouted Banali as he and Sarzo stepped forward to shake my hand and congratulate my actions. “I just loved how you stood up to him, we can’t stand that little shit.”
Sure enough, in 1987, the band unceremoniously fired DuBrow by leaving him behind at a truck stop whilst on tour and although he was back in and out around 1990, he died from a cocaine overdose in 2007. By this time, both Sarzo and Cavani had left the band, but Banali soldiered on with a variety of changes, the last lineup of vocalist Jizzy Pearl, guitarist Alex Grossi and bassist Chuck Wright recorded `Hollywood Cowboys’ in November 2019 whilst Banali was still battling his affliction.
Aside from Quiet Riot, Banali also appeared on most of the W.A.S.P albums and also played with former Deep Purple vocalist Glen Hughes during his partnership with guitarist Pat Thrall.
As Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider noted “Frankie fought hard until the end. His playing and his rock n roll spirit will live forever.”
— Rudy Sarzo (@rudysarzo) August 21, 2020