Monday, January 9, 2012

NRBQ's Tom Ardolino (January 12, 1955 – January 6, 2012)

With the passing of Tom Ardolino (January 12, 1955 – January 6, 2012), I want to say that, in my opinion, Tom Ardolino is one of THE great unsung drum masters of the rock era - carrying and honoring the swing and traditions of jazz and rockabilly. He had a natural, musical feel to his playing, and always served the song - always in the pocket, always appropriate to the arrangement, and always playing with propulsion and emotion. In a musical world that wallows in negativity more often than not, Tom's playing vibrated with a sense of happiness and life. For me, NOBODY swung harder or with more joy in the rock world over the last 40 years. Thank you for all everything, Tommy!

Ardolino was a resident of Springfield, Massachusetts, and knew the band already for a few years as a fan, and used to exchange offbeat reel to reel tapes with Terry, before cassettes became popular. One show, drummer Staley didn't turn up for an encore in time, and Terry gave Ardolino the nod. When Tom Staley headed for Florida to join The Breathers, Tom Ardolino joined NRBQ and the personnel locked in for 20 years. As great as Ferguson, Gadler and Staley each were in their respective rights, the magic of this particular quartet went from fiery sparks to constant current.

Ardolino remained in the lineup until the band went on hiatus in 2004, returning for occasional reunion performances, and lending his support when Adams decided to reclaim the NRBQ name for a new band in 2011. While lead vocals were generally performed by other members of NRBQ, live shows often included a moment where Ardolino would take the spotlight and sing, either with a karaoke backing track or with one of the other band members drumming.

In the period when Ardolino joined the band, no labels were biting in 1974, so the band started their own Red Rooster label, and put out All Hopped Up (reissued by Rounder as "Ridin’ in My Car.") This included many favorites besides "Ridin’ in my Car", like "I Got a Rocket in My Pocket", and "It Feels Good."

NRBQ's Tom Ardolino (January 12, 1955 – January 6, 2012)
NRBQ All Hopped Up 1977 Red Rooster Records


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