Global Bass Online May 2001
From our “Dreams Can Come True” Files
player for Vanilla
All of us at one time or another, particularly in our early years as musicians, have imagined what it would be like to play in our favorite group. For me, though YES was always my most liked group overall, it was actually the band Return to Forever that really caught my eye. Not that I could have ever really pulled off a Stanley Clarke, but the band as a whole around 1984, during the time of their Romantic Warrior album, were just about as cool, complex and as tight as it gets. Playing with Chick Corea, Lenny White and Al DiMeola would have been a dream come true. I am sure Stanley was suitably impressed with them as well.
In reality, the chances of
this happening to me were as close to none as you can get. For Pete Bremy
however, things turned out a lot different. You see, for Pete, a variation on
that dream actually did come true.
As long as he can remember, Pete has loved the late 60’s/early 70’s SuperGroup, The Vanilla Fudge. After our interview with The Fudge’s bass player, rock legend Tim Bogert, I contacted Peter with regards to the web site he had built for Tim. In our conversations, Pete’s incredible story began to unfold.
Pete has at various times in
his career played drums, guitar and keyboards as well. We asked him if he has
the time these days to work on those other instruments as well. He told us,
“Now it’s almost a 100% bass. I haven’t really played drums in quite a
long time. I have a kit but it’s packed away.”
The logical question to ask
Peter was how did life lead him to Vince Martell? His day job is as a programmer (computer) and he is involved
with training Search and Rescue dogs as well. He was asked if he could create a
web site for the S & R group. He had never done it before but said “I
don’t know, I’ve never tried. It might be something interesting to get into.
So I just tried it and I didn’t find it that hard to get into.”
As to how he became connected to Vince…” It actually started for me one night in March of `97. I had just started playing again and had been for about a year. I couldn’t sleep and I didn’t want to wake my wife up watching the television. It was one o’clock in the morning. Being a computer guy, I don’t ‘surf’. When I’m on a computer, I’m working. So I headed downstairs and thought ‘What they heck, I never surf, so why not try it?' Then I thought, ‘Well, what can I look for? I went to Yahoo and typed in ‘Vanilla Fudge’. Up came this fledgling ‘Fudge’ site that had only been up since January, about 3 months. I signed the Guest Book. I was, I guess, around guest number 20 or 25, and I emailed the webmaster, who later I learned is Casey Butler. We became pen pals; he was obviously a ‘Fudge Freak’ and so was I. The funny thing about ‘Fudge Fans’ is we all think we are the only ones in the world! We all feel we are very much alone - all the millions of us. The site gave us all a place to find each other.
So Casey & I of course struck up a kind of camaraderie, and over a period of a
couple months, he realized I had a little bit of web work under my belt. No
where near the talent he had but he thought it would be a little bit more fun if
he had someone helping him. Therefore, he invited me to join him. I would do
little special projects for him.
Later he decided he wanted to have individual sites for individual
members. He had done one for Carmine Appice and he done one for Vince. I believe
he was starting to work on the Mark Stein site and he offered the opportunity to
do one for Tim Bogert. This was, I think, because he knew that Tim was my hero
as a bass player.
I actually began to build the site for Tim, but that was my only one.
That was four years ago.
Now neither one of us had had any contact with ‘The Fudge’ in the beginning. It was a fan site, but one by one they individually found out about this site. They actually contacted the other guy, the webmaster. A few months later after we started Tim’s site we got an email from Tim’s girl friend at the time. She said, “Hi I’m Tim’s girlfriend. We are moving but I will contact you in about a month. She didn’t say whether Tim liked the site or not so I wasn’t sure whether to be ecstatically happy or if I would have to call my lawyer and defend myself against a lawsuit!” (He laughs)
So we were kinda sweating it out for a while, but I think that we knew
he must have liked it or otherwise I think right away they would have said
‘Take it down’.
So eventually I ended up doing an interview with Tim, a two-hour one in fact. That was really cool. He lives in California and I live in New Jersey. It took some time, but he eventually did fly out here for a Fudge Reunion in 1999. I was able to meet him at that point. We spent some time together during rehearsal and after. We had some laughs, and some private chats too while he was here, and he treated me like a friend. It's such a warm feeling, almost a relief, to know that someone you've idolized for decades can turn out to be such a cool person too and without saying, the same goes for Vince. Tim's given me tips over the phone- helped me with slapping- lot's of stuff. I once said to him I didn't want to bother him a lot. He said, 'Hey, I don't talk if the phone doesn't ring.' He's just very cool.
I had also gotten to know Vince by that time too.
A friend of his, Bob "Dozer" Oherlein, started visiting the site and he and I became friends. So
I kinda hinted to him that I would love to talk to Vince. He actually arranged
it and Vince called me. It wasn’t an interview, but we spent a couple of hours
on the phone. We hit it off! I remember Vince saying that he can’t believe I
remembered so much about Vanilla Fudge. More than he did!
The cool thing was I asked him if he still played and he said,
‘’Yeah’, he was still playing
around, doing different shows and stuff. I said, “Well, would you mind keeping
my phone number and giving me a call when you have something lined up . That I
would love to come to a gig and hear him play. So he said, “Sure”.
After we hung up, I said to myself, “Sure, right, I’ll hear from him
It was about a month later, I came home and there was a message on my
answering machine. It was Vince. I had to laugh and my wife laughed too…he
sounded so humble. Almost embarrassed, like “Well, I know you asked me to
call, because you asked me to, I called if you would still like to come to hear
me play?”. No ego at all!!!!
It turned out to be a solo gig in a coffeehouse. It was a friends of
his’ place and he was doing it more as a favor for him. I didn’t introduce
myself at first, I sat down at the back and had a cup of coffee. I had gone by
myself. I wondered how I was going to introduce myself to him. I was still in
awe, thinking the last time I saw this man was from the balcony of the Fillmore
East in 1969! Here I am sitting
right in front of him now!
I went up to him and asked him if he does requests. He said, ‘Sure, if
I know the song’. I said there is a song I really liked from a long time ago,
but naw you probably wouldn’t
know it, and I turned to walk away. I was goofing on him and he said, “No what
is it? Let me know”. I said to
him, “Naw, you would never know the song. It was a song called “Thoughts”
by Vanilla Fudge. He said, “You’re Pete, aren’t you!!!?”
I said, “Yeah”. He had a good laugh. We hit it off, so he took his
break and we had coffee.”
So how did you actually end up
playing bass for this man? Did you audition for him?
“Well, no not exactly. You know, I have been such a devout fan of VF
for so many years, literally from the first time I saw them in 1967. That was
even before their first album. I saw them at a very small venue. My friends
literally dragged me to it, I didn’t want to go. I had never heard of them.
That day literally changed my life!’
It was in August of `67, it was right before their album was released. I
had never heard “You Keep Me Hanging On’ before, but this band just blew me
I was around 13, 14 years old and I would pedal my bicycle to the store
every day waiting for that album. It was actually two weeks before it actually
showed up at the store. I literally played it to death. I bought every album
after that. I saw them countless times.
Led Zeppelin was opening act for them on their first tour. A matter of
fact, Carmine Appice got John Bonham his Ludwig (drums) sponsorship. He also got
an exact duplicate of Carmine’s drum kit for him. They both had these maple
double bass kits.
So how actually then did you find yourself standing on stage with this man one day if you didn’t audition?
He knew I was a musician, I told him that. He knew me more as a
keyboardist and that I had been quite influenced by Mark Stein. My father had a
Hammond and I learned all of Marks parts there. The band I was in in 1967 had
decided to do a 30 year anniversary-reunion. My wife and I decided to have a jam
and BBQ and we invited Vince and a bunch of old VF fans I hadn’t seen in
years. So Vince was kinda like the Surprise Guest. He heard me play keyboards at
So when I actually joined Vince’s band last year, I played organ, not bass! He had heard me play Mark Stein’s part when we were jamming, so he wanted to put something together, including some of the Fudge cover songs. He asked me then to play keyboards.
So, I kinda warned him that though I
could cover Mark Steins parts, but I am not really a true keyboards player. When
we were doing the Fudge stuff, I found it great. But when he would say, “Okay
Pete, take a solo!”. I answered
him, “Okay give me 3 days and I will make one up!!!!! Next rehearsal I will play one for you!!!!!”
The first time you pulled up
to his place to rehearse, did you think to yourself, “My Gawd, what have I got myself into?”
“The first time I played with him was actually at my house so I was in
a comfortable surrounding. I do remember shaking my head and thinking, “This
is Vince Martell standing here in my basement in my music room at this party!”
Is he quite the player these days?
You were not on his first solo
album with Endless High, were you?
“Yes, on this newest one,
all of them on bass.”
As to his equipment list, Pete
uses a Fodera bass, worth well over $5500 US.
“That’s an interesting story too, I’m full of them aren’t I?” (Laughs) That’s a Fodera Anthony Jackson contrabass. I’m sorry to say, it does not
belong to me. It has been on an extended loan to me from Vinny’s producer.”
Do you still have it?
“Yes I still have it, I’ve had it since last year. It is an absolutely
gorgeous instrument, I absolutely love it. I am spoiled by that bass. They
don’t even have a picture of it on the Fodera website. The list price on that
bass is $6,600 US! It plays
You asked me how I actually started playing for Vince and I keep going
on tangents. I was playing organ for him, we were playing The Turning Point in
Piermont, New York. It’s a small venue but a popular one for some of the more
well known artists.
My best friend, Jeff Guenther was playing bass for Vince when he asked
me to play organ. Jeff is also an
excellent guitarist in his own right. But he had his own up and coming project
coming along and it had some scheduling conflicts. He really wanted to do his
own thing. So Jeff decided to leave to work with Retrofitz. Vince asked me to
Peg Pearl, who is also a wonderful wonderful singer, and has a classical
piano background decided to take over the keyboard duties.
(Also on drums is Russ T Blades, who has worked with Vince over the
How is the new album
Well, we haven’t even starting working on it yet.
Vince can be quite meticulous. He is the kind of guy that likes to think
out loud. Basically when we start a song, he will throw out the chord
progression to it and say, “This is basically what I am looking for, let’s
do it”. If I make a suggestion on something, he’ll always listen. We’ll
try it, run it through once and most of the time we’ll work it through
together. Most of the time, he has definite ideas of what he wants in an
arrangement. If I throw something in there that he likes, he’ll say “Oh
that’s good, do that again!” It’s really a lot of fun working with him.
Do you play other basses than just the Fodera?
Yes, I have a `72 Fender Jazz bass too. I’ve had that since 1974. I have Tim
Bogert’s signature on it!
How did you come about having
the $6600 Fodera in the first place?
I don’t talk to him (Randy Pratt) that often, he’s quite a busy guy.
We were talking bass one day last August and he knew I was a bass player.
Until then we had never really had the chance to talk, but we were talking one
day and he asked me what kind of basses I played. I told him I played a Washburn
6 string, a low-end bass. I actually had my heart set on an MTD similar to
Tim’s and I told Randy that having a wife and kids to support I couldn’t
justify spending $4500US.
So Randy just said, “Wait a minute” and he goes into another room.
He comes in with this bass and he says “Here take this home with you for a
while”. I said, “Wow, you have got to be kidding me!”.
I wasn’t really familiar with Fodera models although I knew Fodera’s
very expensive. He said, “I know you will take care of it”.
Do you do any of the old Vanilla Fudge songs still?
You Keep Me Hanging On
Ticket to Ride
Take Me For A Little While
Season of the Witch, in which Vince does this eerie solo while walking
through the audience. It’s soooo cool!
One thing I would like to add is…the thing that is the most important
part of this story is that I am the most insignificant part of it. I really
believe that. The significance is that it happened to somebody. You know what I
Well, I view it exactly 180
degrees from that, which is why I wanted to talk to you. Not many of us get to
work with our heroes and fraternize with those bass players we once admired from
afar. That is the Dreams Come True angle I spoke of to you.
Well, I have this little story that I tell before we play ‘You Keep Me
Hangin On’ that I like to tell the audience. I tell the story that the first
time I saw this man I was 14 years old and I stood in awe of him and if you
were to tell me 34 years ago that I would be standing on this stage about to play this
song with him standing right next to me,
I would have told you that you were out of your mind!
I think that maybe I am being rewarded. My goal when I was doing all
this stuff was to say thank you to
Vanilla Fudge. Their music literally changed my life, I mean literally. I
wouldn’t be here on stage or being interviewed if it weren’t for Vince. I
owe him so much, he treats me so well and he’s not getting the credit he
deserves as a world class player.
Martell and Tim Bogert & Pete
They say that anything that can
happen will happen, somewhere, somewhen and to someone. A story like Pete
Bremy’s only goes to show you that there really is such a thing as right
But you also have to be the
right person. A dime-a-dozen hacker from a crap band wouldn’t hold the
position that Pete holds today. It just wouldn’t happen. So though Pete is
very modest and very quick to say the story really isn’t about him, we think
Sometimes the good guys win...
The websites Pete Bremy masters:
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