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Vini Lopez

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Title: Vini Lopez  
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Subject: Bruce Springsteen, E Street Band, Danny Federici, Ernest Carter (drummer), Max Weinberg
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Vini Lopez

Vini Lopez
Birth name Vincent Lopez
Also known as Mad Dog
Origin Monmouth County, New Jersey, United States
Genres Rock
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Drums, percussion, piano, trumpet, cornet
Associated acts Bruce Springsteen
Steel Mill
E Street Band
Bill Chinnock

Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez (born in 1949) is an American drummer. Between 1968 and 1974 Lopez backed Bruce Springsteen in several bands, including Steel Mill and the E Street Band. He also played on Springsteen’s first two albums, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. and The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle. After leaving the E Street Band, Lopez went on to play drums with numerous Jersey Shore bands, including The Lord Gunner Group. Since 2004 he has led his own band, Steel Mill Retro, which has performed and recorded original Springsteen songs from the Steel Mill era, as well as serve as mentor to emerging artists such as The Reis Brothers.[1] As of August 2008 Lopez lives in Jackson Township, New Jersey, with his daughter, Liz, who is an accountant. His wife, Laurel, died in 2004. When not playing in various bands, his most current work is with the Endless New Jersey Shore band that plays 2-4 times weekly "License to Chill" with lead singer Vince Berardi. Lopez has worked as a golf caddy.[2][3][4][5]

In April 2014, Lopez was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the E Street Band.


  • Early years 1
    • The Upstage years 1.1
  • E Street Band 2
  • The Lord Gunner Group 3
  • Steel Mill Retro 4
  • Discography 5
  • References 6

Early years

Lopez grew up in Neptune Township, New Jersey where he attended Neptune High School with both Garry Tallent and Southside Johnny.[6][7] From 1956 to 1962 he played the soprano valve bugle in a Drum and Bugle Corps. Then as a teenager he taught himself the drums and began playing with Buzzy Lubinsky, a drummer/DJ based in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Lubinsky's father was Herman Lubinsky, owner of Savoy Records in Newark. Lubinsky would subsequently act as a mentor for the young Lopez. From 1964, with encouragement from Lubinsky, he began to try out for local bands. After a failed audition for The Storytellers, a band which included Bill Chinnock and Danny Federici, he successfully auditioned for The Blazers led by Sonny Kenn. They subsequently became Sonny & The Sounds and then Sonny & The Starfires.[8] After graduating from high school in 1967.[9] he continued to play with several local bands. These included the Downtown Tangiers Band, with Federici, Chinnock and Garry Tallent and Moment of Truth with Tallent, Tom Worieo, and Ricky DeSarno (guitars).[3] [10] DeSarno and Lopez would become regular collaborators after Lopez left the E Street Band. In 1970 Lopez worked at Carvers boatyard in Point Pleasant, New Jersey

The Upstage years

In 1968 the Upstage Club was opened at 702 Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The club would subsequently play a central role in the history of both Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes.[11] In February 1969 Springsteen and Lopez got together with Danny Federici and Vinnie Roslin at The Upstage and formed a new band. They initially played as Child but in November 1969 changed their name to Steel Mill to avoid confusion with another band.[6][12] Springsteen and Lopez had already met each other on several occasions. On April 22, 1966 they both played with their respective bands, The Castiles and Sonny & The Starfires, in a battle of the bands competition at the Matawan-Keyport Roller Drome in Matawan, New Jersey.[13] During the early 1970s Lopez and Springsteen would go onto play together in several short lived bands based out of the Upstage. These included Bruce Springsteen & The Friendly Enemies, The Sundance Blues Band, Dr. Zoom & The Sonic Boom Band and The Bruce Springsteen Band. All of these bands included a core membership of Danny Federici, David Sancious, Garry Tallent, Steve Van Zandt and Southside Johnny. The latter band also included Delores Holmes.[14]

E Street Band

In 1972, after Bruce Springsteen signed a recording contract with Columbia Records, he returned to The Upstage to recruit a band to record and then tour in support of his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.. Together with Danny Federici, Garry Tallent, Clarence Clemons and David Sancious, Lopez was a founding member of what eventually became the E Street Band.[15] It was also around this time that Clive Davis first gave Lopez his "Mad Dog" nickname.[6] By 1973 they had recorded a second album with Springsteen, The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle. Other recordings from this era featuring Lopez would later be released on Tracks and 18 Tracks.[16] Lopez would leave the band in controversial circumstances. Prior to a show at the University of Kentucky on February 12, 1974, he accused Springsteen’s manager, Mike Appel, of stealing from the band and he got into a fight with his brother, Steve Appel, the band’s road manager. After the show he was effectively fired from the band.

However this was not the last occasion that Lopez backed Springsteen in concert. On September 8, 1974 at Patti Scialfa, was one of Springsteen’s guests at the 4th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.[19] Backstreets, a Springsteen fanzine reported, that Springsteen invited Lopez on stage during the jam session and that he subsequently backed Little Richard, Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards as well as Springsteen himself during a performance of Roy Orbison’s "Crying" [20] On July 21, 2003 at the Giants Stadium, during The Rising Tour, Lopez also made a guest appearance, playing on "Spirit in the Night".[21] Another guest performance with the E Street band was on October 20, 2009, where he backed Springsteen at the Wachovia Spectrum in Philadelphia during "Spirit in the Night". On September 19, 2012, Lopez made a guest appearance during Springsteen's first concert at the new "MetLife Stadium", playing on "E Street Shuffle".[22] On April 10, 2014, Lopez was inducted as a member of the E Street Band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and performed three songs with the band during the ceremony.

The Lord Gunner Group

During the 1970s Lopez played with The Lord Gunner Group, one of the Jersey Shores most popular unsigned groups. The power rock band was led by Lance Larson (lead vocals) and Ricky DeSarno (lead guitar). In 1974 Lopez, Larson and DeSarno, together with John Luraschi (bass), had played together in Cold Blast and Steel. Luraschi was an Upstage veteran and had been a fringe member of Dr. Zoom. Together with Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, Cold Blast and Steel became one of the top two performing bands in New Jersey. However by 1975 Lopez was leading his own band, Maddog & The Shakes, which featured Vinnie Roslin and DeSarno. The Shakes based their sound on Motown and Memphis and have been described as "one of the great unsigned Asbury Park bands of the mid-1970s". In 1977 Lopez briefly moved to Maine where he reunited with Bill Chinnock and played on the latter’s Badlands album.

Meanwhile, back on the Jersey Shore, Larsen and DeSarno had formed The Lord Gunner Group. Lopez was the second of three notable drummers to play with the band. He succeeded Ernest Carter, who had earlier replaced Lopez in the E Street Band. When he left the band Lopez was replaced by Tico Torres. The band played original music and high-impact rock at their live shows. They became the house band at The Stone Pony and opened for acts such as David Johansen, Sly & The Family Stone and John Cafferty. They later played larger venues throughout the Eastern Seaboard and their opening acts included The Smithereens and Jon Bon Jovi and The Wild Ones. Although Lord Gunner never recorded an album of its own they did feature on the compilation The Sounds Of Asbury Park. Lord Gunner had several opportunities to be signed, but another unfortunate incident involving Lopez and a manager ended one of its best chances. After self-financing and self-promoting a showcase at a club for several A&R representatives, Larson and Lopez discovered that, without consulting them, their manager had also booked an opening band, with the intention of trying to get them signed. An angry Lopez had to be escorted from the club by police. Larson played a few songs, then calmly approached the microphone to ask all of the A&R reps to get up out of the first few rows and let the band's friends and fans sit down in their places. All the reps then left the club and Lord Gunner lost their shot at a deal.[2][4][11][20][23]

Steel Mill Retro

After leaving The Lord Gunner Group, Lopez went onto play with several [30] They have since released another CD called All Man the Guns for America The lineup currently includes Lopez on drums, John Galella on guitar, Ed Piersanti on bass, Steve Lusardi on B3 and Adam Glenn on keys.[31]



  1. ^ Jordan, Chris (16 August 2015). "The E Street Band connection of the Ries Brothers".  
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b 'Steel Mill keeps Asbury sounds of the past alive''"'". 2008-08-27. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  4. ^ a b "Band Chronology". Steel Mill Retro. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  5. ^ a b The Dead Sea Chronicles
  6. ^ a b c 'Far From E Street, Still a Spirit in the Night''"'". 2008-04-30. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  7. ^ Asbury
  8. ^ "Steel Mill Retro". Steel Mill Retro. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  9. ^ Cahillane, Kevin (2005-05-01). 'Two Guys Left Behind In the E Street Shuffle''"'". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  10. ^ "Garry’s Corner". Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  11. ^ a b Charles R. Cross: Backstreets - Springsteen: The Man And His Music (1989)
  12. ^ "Brucebase 1960s". Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  13. ^ "Welcome To Diner Records". Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  14. ^ "Brucebase 1970". Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  15. ^ "Brucebase 1972". Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  16. ^ "Band Members". Steel Mill Retro. 2003-07-21. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  17. ^ "Brucebase 1974". Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  18. ^ Patrick Humphries and Chris Hunt: Springsteen - Blinded By The Light (1985)
  19. ^ "Brucebase 1989". Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  20. ^ a b Backstreets #28 Spring 1989
  21. ^ "Brucebase 2003". Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  22. ^ Bruce Springsteen Reunites With Original E Street Band Drummer Andy Greene, Rolling Stone, September 20, 2012
  23. ^ Backstreets #31 Winter 1990
  24. ^ Paul Whistler and the Jersey All Star Rockin' Rhythm Review
  25. ^ "SoundClick artist: Sam Cooper - Great songwriting-soul, reggae, country, blues, rock, folk, jazz, funk, etc.-you name it!". 2006-01-01. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  26. ^ Backstreets #19 Winter 1987
  27. ^ Backstreets #29 Summer 1989
  28. ^ Backstreets #47 Fall 1994
  29. ^ 'Freehold rocker leads way for ‘old’ gang at Stone Pony''"'". 2002-09-18. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  30. ^ "Springsteen News Archive Jul - Aug 2008". Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  31. ^ "Steel Mill Retro". Steel Mill Retro. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
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