Originally named The Pigeons, they became Vanilla Fudge in late 1966, and following their debut performance at the Village Theater (Fillmore East) they signed to Atlantic'. The music of Mark Stein (vocals/organ), Vince Martell (guitar/vocals), Tim Bogert (bass) and Carmine Appice (drums/vocals) consisted of psychedelia mixed with symphonic Hard Rock, even if it lacked in both sonic and lyrical quality at the start; it was nonetheless unique and new in 1967 when they met chart success with their first release, a cover of the Supremes' You Keep Me Hangin' On, with a self-titled album following later that same year also including covers, this time of the Beatles' Elenor Rigby and Ticket To Ride. Unfortunately their original material lacked considerably in both popularity and quality in comparison to the covers resulting in sparse follow-up albums like The Beat Goes On (1968; released in both stereo and mono), Renaissance (1968), the half studio/half live effort Near The Beginning (1969), and Rock & Roll (1969). Each album made top 20 but mostly on the strength of the covers and good marketing. The act split in late 1969.
Carmine Appice and Tim Bogert formed the short-lived Cactus with Rusty Day (ex-Amboy Dukes/ex-Ted Nugent; vocals/mouth harp) and Jim McCarty (guitar; NOT of Yardbirds) along the lines of straight-laced Hard Rock to release Cactus (1970), One Way Or Another (1971), Restrictions (1972; now with the added piono of Duane Hitchings), and Ot & Sweaty (1972; part live and part studio) with Pete French (ex-Atomic Rooster) taking over vocals. The act split soon after with each member going his own separate way, most notably Hitchings forming the New Cactus Band to issue Son Of Cactus in 1973.
A recording of the Pigeons was released in Germany in 1973 under the title of "While the World was Eating Vanilla Fudge."
Vanilla Fudge reformed in 1982 to release Mystery a spin-off from their support of the 'Atco Records' release, Best of Vanilla Fudge. Martell was not included in this initial reunion and Ron Mancuso played guitar on Mystery instead, along with Jeff Beck, who guest starred under the moniker "J. Toad". Two reunion tours followed in 1987/1988, with Paul Hanson on guitar. Lanny Cordola was guitarist when the band took the stage in May, 1988 for the 'Atlantic Records' 40th Anniversary Celebration. After that, the band split again.
In 1991 Appice revived Vanilla Fudge name for a tour with Ted Nugent's former band members Derek St. Holmes (guitar/vocals), Martin Gerschwitz (keyboards/vocals), and Tom Croucier (bass, vocals), which resulted in The Best of Vanilla Fudge Live.
Three of the original members (Appice, Bogert, and Martell) reunited in 1999 with vocalist/organist Bill Pascali to record the "greatest hits" album, Vanilla Fudge 2001/ The Return / Then And Now, with new recordings of previous songs and three new songs. 2002 saw Pete Bremy and T.M. Stevens on bass for an ill Bogert. 2003 saw the release of The Real Deal Vanilla Fudge Live, recorded on tour back in 1987 with Paul Hanson on guitar; Martell overdubbed his guitar and vocals later. In 20032005, the group toured with Teddy Rondinelli standing in on guitar for Martell.
In 2005, all four original members reunited for a tour with members of The Doors (touring as "Riders On The Storm") and Steppenwolf. Pascali returned in place of Stein for some 2005 and 2006 shows before leaving to join The New Rascals.
In March 2008 the original lineup of Vanilla Fudge embarked on a tour of the eastern United States. But by the summer, Bogert and Appice left to concentrate on the reformed Cactus project.
In the fall of 2010, Tim Bogert announced his retirement from touring and was replaced by Pete Bremy. Despite announcing a retirement tour in 2011, by 2016 the act was still performing live regularly, as well releasing Spirit of '67 in 2015.