Alex Grossi says that he takes a lot of pride in knowing that QUIET RIOT is moving forward in the way that the band's late drummer Frankie Banali wanted it to. The group, which now features drummer Johnny Kelly (DANZIG, TYPE O NEGATIVE), will play a couple of shows later this month as well as a string of dates in 2021.
Asked in a new interview with the "Music Mania" podcast how Johnny came to be involved with QUIET RIOT, Grossi said (hear audio below): "When Frankie got sick, one of the first phone calls he made to me was regarding getting a substitute drummer. And Johnny and I had worked together, and still work together, in that band HOOKERS & BLOW, that cover band we do for fun. And he just made perfect sense on so many levels, because he's not totally intertwined in the L.A. music scene and doesn't really get involved with the gossip and this and that. Because keep in mind, Frankie wasn't public about his cancer until several months after his diagnosis."
He continued: "Johnny, he's family to me, and Frankie and him were friends. And he can definitely fill the role onstage and off; he's a total pro and he's a friend. It worked out great, because the first show that Frankie was gonna miss was in Dallas, Texas, which is when Johnny Kelly lives. So we were able to fly in, do one song for soundcheck, and then trial by fire, do the whole show. He had never played with us before. And Chuck [Wright, bass] and our singer had never even met him. So it was definitely a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-type moment, but Johnny rose to the occasion, and we're thankful he's onboard to help us out."
Banali, who joined QUIET RIOT in 1982 and played on its breakthrough album, 1983's "Metal Health", the first heavy metal LP to top Billboard's album chart, died in August after a 16-month battle with pancreatic cancer.
The surviving members of QUIET RIOT said it was "Frankie Banali's wish that the band continue and we keep the music and the legacy alive."
Speaking about the discussions that Frankie and the other members of QUIET RIOT had about continuing without him, Alex said: "There really wasn't any one specific conversation. It was just, 'Keep it going. Business as usual.' We're not gonna miss any dates. We're not gonna make a thing of it. We're gonna keep the band rolling.
"Frankie put so much of his life into building, helping to build, keeping the band going through good times, through bad — '80s, '90s, 2000s — if you think about it, and that's his baby; that's his legacy. And when the reality is that you're not gonna be around anymore, you still want your baby to grow and your legacy to grow, and that basically was always this unwritten thing. And I'm really glad.
"I always tell people I wish I could have found a way to fix his ailments, if you will, but, obviously, no one can do that," Grossi added. "But I take a lot of pride in knowing that we pulled it off last year and we're moving forward the way he wanted to and delivering a great show to people. So that I find comfort in. So that's been a positive."
At some of QUIET RIOT's 2019 and 2020 shows, Banali was replaced by Kelly or Mike Dupke (W.A.S.P.), depending on each musician's availability.
QUIET RIOT's shows last year with Kelly and Dupke marked the first time ever that the band performed without any of the members from its classic lineup: Banali, singer Kevin DuBrow, guitarist Carlos Cavazo and bassist Rudy Sarzo.
QUIET RIOT initially featured the late guitar legend Randy Rhoads and went through some early lineup shifts before securing the musicians that recorded "Metal Health".
Wright has been a part of QUIET RIOT, on and off, since 1982, having initially been involved in the "Metal Health" recordings (he played bass on the tracks "Metal Health" and "Don't Wanna Let You Go"). Grossi was in the last version of the band, from 2004 through 2007, before Kevin passed away, and was asked by Banali to return in 2010.
QUIET RIOT went through two vocalists — Mark Huff and Scott Vokoun — before settling on Jizzy Pearl in 2013. Pearl announced his exit from QUIET RIOT in October 2016 and was briefly replaced by Seann Nichols, who played only five shows with the group before the March 2017 arrival of "American Idol" finalist James Durbin. Pearl returned to QUIET RIOT in September 2019.