After the passing of Quiet Riot‘s long-term drummer Frankie Banali in 2020, the band replaced him with Johnny Kelly. During a recent appearance on Talkin’ Rock with Meltdown, Kelly reflected on the difficulty of filling Banali’s shoes as the band’s new drummer.
Johnny Kelly shared the following about his thoughts on playing with Rudy Sarzo and replacing Banali:
“He’s [Rudy Sarzo] an icon. What do you expect? What do you think? It was great, like the whole thing. It’s a really terrible way to get a gig, like how I wound up in time in Quiet Riot. That’s terrible, but coming in and covering for Frankie. That was big shoes to fill, and I didn’t think anything of it at the time.”
Replacing the late drummer was flattering for Kelly, but he also feels happy to get a chance to play with other prominent musicians, as he recalled:
“I would be like, ‘Yeah, I’m just covering for Frankie while he’s going in for treatment’ and stuff. Then, when it became not permanent, but I mean, I played with Alex a lot in Hookers & Blow for years, and that’s the connection of how I wound up in Quiet Riot but getting a play with Chuck and James Durbin was singing.
Chuck’s a great bass player, and it was great to be able to step into that situation. Besides getting things covered, getting things done, and keeping things moving, I was getting the opportunity to play with some other people that are the heavyweights, and then when Rudy was coming back, it was pretty surreal.”
Kelly had also filled in for Banali on Quiet Riot’s 2019 and 2020 tours in the absence of the late musician due to his treatment. However, replacing him permanently has put more responsibility on the drummer since Kelly felt he had to honor his legacy, as he shared in a 2021 interview with the Who’s Your Band? podcast:
“Now it is kind of strange in a way, where the purpose of what I was doing with the band has completely changed now. It’s kind of awkward and weird, and then at the same time, it’s an honor, and there’s a certain amount of responsibility that comes with it now. It’s not just filling in a gig, covering things while Frankie is out, going for chemo. The responsibility of his legacy is now part of my responsibility. So there’s a little more weight to it.”
You can watch his full interview below.