Frankie Banali has died. As the drummer for the second incarnation of classic metal outfit Quiet Riot, Banali played on some of the band’s most iconic hits, including the million-plus-selling cover of Slade’s “Cum On Feel The Noize” that propelled 1983's Metal Health to the very top of the Billboard charts. Per Rolling Stone, Banali was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year, and died from the disease this week. He was 68.
Originally born in New York, Banali helped re-found Quiet Riot in the aftermath of its first dissolution back in 1980, teaming up with original vocalist Kevin DuBrow and, later, bassist Rudy Sarzo to bring the band back, two years after the departure of original guitarist Randy Rhoads essentially sealed its (first) fate. Joined by new guitarist Carlos Cavazi, the band re-launched with Metal Health, which quickly became one of the best-selling metal albums of all time, ushering in a new era of commercial viability for the genre. Between the success of “Noize” and the album’s title track, Metal Health eventually became the first metal album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200, unseating The Police’s Synchronicity, if only for a single week.
The highs would never be as high again, a fact that didn’t stop Banali from sticking with Quiet Riot, in one form or another, for much of the rest of his life. 1984's follow-up album, Condition Critical, failed to match the heights of its predecessors, and tensions between band members led to DuBrow’s departure—eventually taking the Quiet Riot name with him. Banali moved on to drumming for W.A.S.P. and Faster Pussycat, but could never seem to resist returning to the band with which he’d first hit mainstream success. He signed back up for Quiet Riot duty in 1993, and then returned for each of the band’s subsequent revivals, first in 2004, and then in 2010, a few years after DuBrow’s death. He also served as Quiet Riot’s business manager from 1994 onward, helping to stabilize its often fractious path through the metal world. He ultimately played on 13 different Quiet Riot albums—including last year’s Hollywood Cowboys—and is probably more responsible than any other person for ensuring that the group survived into the present day.