Interview with Vini Lopez
by Torsten Mörke, January 2007
Vini "Maddog" Lopez had been the long time drummer of Bruce Springsteen
in the early 70s. He started playing with Bruce in early 1969 and stayed
until 1974. His chronology includes Child, Steel Mill, Dr. Zoom, The Bruce
Springsteen Band and finally the E-Street Band.
In 2004 he formed his latest project called "Steel Mill Retro" to play
Bruce's original music from that band and more.
You can visit his Steel Mill Retro homepage here:
(Note: outdated Information)
Torsten Mörke: Child was formed by Bruce and yourself, after you've played
together at the Upstage, wasn't it? How did you come to the idea of
forming the band?
Yes, Child was formed after we played together at the Upstage. The idea
came after I met Tinker in 1967. He planted the seed. I was in a band
called the Moment of Truth with Gary Tallent on guitar. Tinker told us he
thought we were good and suggested that we play original music instead of
cover tunes. He said we wouldn't go anywhere doing covers and that if we
wrote our own songs we could have something unique. Tinker told me "if we
ever do any original music to call him." This was because he had enough
room in his surfboard factory for a band to rehearse.
I started looking around for musicians who would be interested in
original songs in a band after Moment of Truth broke up. I heard of a kid
named Bruce who was a hot guitar player. He was playing with his band at
the Italian-American Club one night so I dropped in to check him out. He
sounded great and I invited him to come to the Upstage Club in Asbury
where I liked to go to all night jam sessions. Not long after that he
showed up to jam and it was great ! The guys who were there jamming that
night with us were me, Bruce Springsteen on guitar, Little Vinnie Roslyn
on bass and Danny Federici on organ. We played so well together that after
the jam was over we decided to start a new band doing original material.
Bruce already had some ideas for songs that he wanted to do.
We then went to see Tinker at his surfboard factory in Wannamassa,NJ to
tell him that we had accepted his invitation to rehearse at his shop. He
was glad to see us and let us have use of the place. We called the band
CHILD, but we found out later that year of another band with the same
name. We needed a new name and struggled for a while until one night when
the guys in the band were all eating at an all-night coffeehouse in West
End called "The Inkwell" with my good friend Chuck Dillon. Somehow after
tossing around some names Chuck came up with the name STEEL MILL. All the
guys in the band liked it a lot. The rest is history. The best band to
come out of the Jersey shore in that era.
You have played in Steel Mill, Dr. Zoom and The Bruce
Springsteen Band. How would you describe the change in the music in between the
Steel mill was a lot of different music combined together. It was hard
rock. It was country. It was jazz. It encompassed a lot of different types
of music. We were free to experiment and express ourselves unlike the
cover bands. It was riding on the wave of the heavier metal sounds of
Hendrix and Led Zeppelin and the jam sounds of 10 years after and Canned
Heat. It was a hard rocking band.
Dr. Zoom was just a fun band that had all of our friends in it. We put
together quickly to keep working and make an income. It was the jam sound
of the Upstage Club brought out to a large concert venue. We did a mix of
tunes like Bob Dylan, Chicago blues, Carole King, and Bruce's originals
including a song he wrote called the "Southside Shuffle" that featured
Southside Johnny on the blues harp for the first time. The band also had a
lot of "twos" - 2 drummers, 2 guitarists, 2 keyboard players and 2
saxophone players. One harmonica and one bass guitar. That's 10 members
not counting the Zoom Chorus.
The Bruce Springsteen band moved onto Rythmn and Blues and more towards
the sound that we think of Bruce today. That band had 2 guitarists, 2
horns (trumpet and sax), 2 female singers, keyboards, bass and drums. If
you count Tinker on Conga drums that is also 10 members. It shows up again
later on the album "Wild, Innocent and the E Street Shuffle" when David
Sancious was with the band and influencing Bruce's writing.
What was it like to play the old songs again, after you have formed
Still Mill Retro? Were they still around in
It's just wonderful we have a great time every time we play. The songs
have never left my mind. Everyone in the band was impressed at how good
this material is.
What are your plans for the future? I've seen that you're
writing a book about the "old days," when can we expect a publication?
We're working on it right now and I will let you know, when we have
Interview by Torsten Mörke
Copyright by www.castiles.net