Classic Rock Corner

Beck, Bogert & Appice—Classic Rock's "Lost" Power Trio—Thunder on Live Box Set

Carmine Appice, Jeff Beck and Tim Bogert during their short-lived time together as a band.
Carmine Appice, Jeff Beck and Tim Bogert during their short-lived time together as a band. Photo by and © Sam Emerson/Courtesy Rhino-Warner Music
Though it’s been nearly eight months since the sudden and unexpected death of guitarist Jeff Beck from bacterial meningitis, his former bandmate, drummer Carmine Appice, is still stunned.

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Record cover
Especially since the two had been working closely together on a new box set project featuring archival live recordings from their short-lived early ‘70s Classic Rock trio Beck, Bogert and Appice.

“It’s so weird. My manager had written the liner notes and we had delivered them to Jeff and his manager to look over on a Sunday. We were waiting to hear back, and he passed away on Tuesday,” Appice says from his Florida home.

“I was shocked and I felt very empty. I wasn’t in contact with Jeff all the time, but he was a part of my life. It just blew me away.”

That project comes to fruition with next month’s release of Beck, Bogert & Appice: Live in Japan 1973 and Live in London 1974 (Atco/Rhino). Available in multiple formats, it includes two discs of music recorded in each location in a handsome box that includes a hardcover book with those extensive liner notes, a reproduction Japanese show program, and a replica poster.

“I helped mix the set with Jeff’s engineers and he had personally okayed all of them. The last thing he said to me when we talked was ‘Not only is the playing great, but it’s humorous.’” Appice says. “I didn’t know what he meant. And he said he’d play something silly and Tim would answer him and I’d answer Tim.”

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Carmine Appice onstage with BBA
Photo by and © Barry Plummer/Courtesy Rhino-Warner Music
Tim would be Tim Bogert, the third member of the power trio. And while he died in 2021, he knew about the project and was able to overdub some vocal fixes to the original recordings. Appice is well aware he’s The Last Man Standing now, noting he’s even saved the last two texts Bogert ever sent him.

When the names of Classic Rock’s greatest power trios are evoked, Cream, ZZ Top, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Rush come trippingly off the tongue. Deeper fans might also toss out Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Mountain, Blue Cheer, the James Gang or early Grand Funk Railroad.

Rarely mentioned on that list—despite boasting what many consider as Rock’s Greatest Guitarist in the lineup as well as the rhythm section of Vanilla Fudge and the mighty Cactus—is Beck, Bogert and Appice.

Perhaps because the lifespan of that unit only lasted barely over a calendar year, from 1972-74, producing only one studio record. And like many on the list, aficionados note they were better in a live situation that encouraged experimentation and improvisation.

While Bogert and Appice had only sung an occasional lead vocal with their previous groups, they found themselves splitting those considerable duties in BBA.

“We know some of the PR at the time talked about how the singing wasn’t strong, but at that time people were writing songs that jammed. The quicker you got to the jam, the better. And we had brought some of that boogie sound over from Cactus,” Appice says. Though at one point, Beck’s estranged former bandmate in the Jeff Beck Group, Rod Stewart, was a possible choice from front man.
The Live in Japan set was recorded on May 18 and 19 at Osaka’s Koseinenkin Hall and had been previously released in that country only. The January 26, 1974, Live in London at the Rainbow Theatre had been broadcast across U.S. radio stations later that year, but the full tapes sat in Beck’s archives for half a century. Sessions started in January 1974 for a follow up studio record, but the group unceremoniously disbanded shortly thereafter.

The material on the box set runs the gamut from live versions of both original tracks on the BBA album (“Black Cat Moan,” “Lady,” “Sweet Sweet Surrender,” “Livin’ Alone,” “Why Should I Care”) and covers (the Impressions’ “I’m So Proud,” Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”). Also tunes earmarked for the second studio record (“Jizz Whizz,” “Satisfied,” “Solid Lifter”). Beck also uses a talk box on several tracks—pre-Peter Frampton!
“On the Live in London set, there’s like seven new songs. And versions that were better than what we had planned for the second record,” Appice says. “I was just amazed as the power and level of energy when I heard the test pressings. And I’ve got a nine-minute drum solo. You can’t do that today. People will get up and go get popcorn!”

When BBA first got together, expectations were high. Beck was already hailed as a Guitar God for his early work in the Yardbirds and his own Jeff Beck Group. Bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice had bona fide pedigrees from Vanilla Fudge (“You Keep Me Hangin’ On”) and cult favorite Cactus.

England music magazine Melody Maker called BBA “the first successor to Cream” while NME hailed them as “an ensemble of virtually unparalleled magnificence.” Interestingly, the trio first jammed together in 1969 and were set to form the group then, but it was put on ice when Beck was involved in a major car crash and upon recovery, formed The Jeff Beck Group without the pair.
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Carmine Appice: The inspiration for the Animal the Muppet?
Photo by and © Barry Plummer/Courtesy Rhino-Warner Music
Still, to this day, Appice can dwell on what could have been if BBA stuck it out a bit longer.

“We never reached the potential we could have. It was stupid. We could never get in the studio what we wanted, and Jeff was always unhappy there,” Appice says. He notes that he and Beck would also travel to gigs together in the same car, where the American skin thumper would play English guitar slinger more experimental music like Mahavishnu Orchestra and Billy Cobham records.

Appice also thinks that Beck was “tired of competing with Tim” onstage when it came to their instruments. Bogert was well known for playing bass as if it were a lead on par with the guitar in terms of volume and impact. Maybe not the best move in a band that has Jeff Beck in the lineup.

After BBA, Beck would put out his solo Blow by Blow LP, his hugely successful 1975 solo effort. Appice even traveled to England and played on some tracks, but business decisions kept him off the final mix.

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Jeff Beck onstage
Photo by and © Barry Plummer/Courtesy Rhino-Warner Music
“I was pissed. But then I joined Rod Stewart and ended up co-writing ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy’ with him [the pair also penned “Young Turks”]. “We had huge records and played in front of zillions of people. So, it turned out OK!”

Appice did broker a meeting between Beck and Stewart when both were on the road and happened to be in the same city, and it turned out well. The former bandmates reunited on disc for a 1985 cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready.” Appice tells the full story on his website on one of a series of videos.

As for his previous groups, Vanilla Fudge’s biggest hit—a heavy cover of the Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”—got a recent boost when a considerable chunk of it was featured in perhaps the most pivotal scene of Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Appice—who calls himself a movie buff—made sure he saw it for the first time in an actual theater, his pounding drums after the spooky keyboard intro blasting through the theater speakers.

And while he says it was “amazing” to see it, he notes it’s not the only time the song has soundtracked violence in mayhem onscreen.

“They used it three times in the Sopranos, the last time when they killed Phil [Leotardo]!” Appice laughs. “I said ‘Man, what is this? The Killing Spree Song?'”

Today, the 76-year-old Carmine Appice remains quite busy. In addition to promoting the BBA release, he puts down original music in his new home studio, gigs/records occasionally with the current Vanilla Fudge, plays drums in “The Rod Experience” (A Rod Stewart tribute act), and holds drum clinics and speaking engagements.

He’s also finishing up production on a brand new Cactus record with their current lineup coming out next March. The discs revisits their ‘70s catalog of songs, but with an extensive group of high-profile guests including Ted Nugent, Joe Bonamassa, Steve Stevens, Dee Snider, Billy Sheehan, and Dug Pinnick and Ty Tabor of Houston’s King’s X.

“I got a lot going on!” Appice laughs. “I’m just sorry that Jeff and Tim aren’t around anymore to see this [box set] come out. They would have loved it.”

For more on Carmine Appice, visit
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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero