By Lyndsey Parker, Yahoo Music | Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali has died at the age of 68 following a battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
The rock veteran, who also played with W.A.S.P., Faster Pussycat, Dokken, Billy Idol, Steppenwolf, and others during his five-decade career, was diagnosed in April 2019 and at that time given only six months to live, but he fought hard, becoming a spokesperson for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) and even returning to his drum kit for a triumphant comeback show at Hollywood’s Whisky a Go Go in October last year.
Banali was born on Nov. 14, 1951, in Queens, New York, and in 1975 he moved to Los Angeles, where he played with various artists, including Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads.
Five years later, he joined forces with frontman Kevin DuBrow to form what would eventually become Quiet Riot; in November 1983, that band’s third LP, Metal Health, became the first heavy metal album to go No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.
During its long chart run, Metal Health knocked both Michael Jackson’s Thriller and the Police’s Synchronicity out of the top spot, and it eventually sold 10 million copies worldwide. Quiet Riot disbanded in 1989, but reformed with different lineups (with and without Banali) over the years, with Banali rejoining full-time in 2010.
Last November, Banali spoke with Yahoo Entertainment about his cancer battle, admitting that [he] was blindsided by his diagnosis even though the disease ran in his family. “My father died of pancreatic cancer in 1974, and my mother died of lung cancer in 1990. But it’s not until it happens to you that you actually have to really be proactive and do the research,” he said. “I always felt like I was in the crosshairs, dodging that bullet. And on April 17 [of 2019], that bullet hit home.” He recalled learning the news: “The floor doctor unceremoniously comes in and tells me that I have stage 4 pancreatic cancer, that is has metastasised to the liver, and that he ‘really liked my music.’ And he signed off on the paperwork and walked out.”
Banali said he waited months to go public with his diagnosis because, as not only the drummer for Quiet Riot but also the band’s acting manager since 1993, he didn’t want to jeopardize tour dates they already had booked.
When he finally had to step back from touring — the first time in 38 years that he had ever missed any scheduled concerts — he said, “I didn’t go public, and I took all the hits — all the mean and nasty posts. You know: ‘Frankie Banali is sitting at home getting fat, while the band is playing without him.’ And the reality was that on April 17, I weighed a hefty 197 pounds, and three months later I was down to 135 pounds. So I certainly wasn’t sitting at home having a great time! But I just didn’t say anything. And I took all the abuse.”
Read the rest of Lyndsey’s tribute to Frankie here: