With Stein's father as the band's booking agent, the group eventually shortened their name to "The Pigeons" and soon built a strong regional following on the East coast club circuit. One night at a club called The Action House, the bar's owner, Phil Basille, was so impressed with the group's performance, he offered to manage the them. With his experience and connections in the music business, the boys quickly agreed.
By 1966, the band had moved into complex cover versions of Top 40 material that proved to be too difficult for Joey Brennan to handle. The others felt that they needed a new drummer and Tim Bogert recommended Carmine Appice, whom he had heard play at another local club. When the others heard Appice, they knew they had their man.
Basille used his contacts to have producer & songwriter George "Shadow" Morton come and listen to the band one night at the Action House. Morton sat and listened for a while and was headed for the door, when the band began to play their version of the Supremes' hit, "You Keep Me Hangin' On". Morton sat down again, impressed by a musical style he had never heard before. Later in the same week, he arranged for the band to record the song without a recording contract. The version that we all know, was recorded in just one take.
Morton started shopping the tape around and several recording studios showed some interest. Atlantic's Ahmet Ertegun made the best offer and signed the band in the spring of 1967 to ATCO Records, under their new name, "Vanilla Fudge". Ertegun insisted that the original one take recording of "You Keep Me Hangin' On" be pressed to disc, and released it on June 2nd 1967, along with their self-titled debut album.
The song caught on quickly and climbed the national charts to number 10, while the album, which contained similar rearranged cover tunes, went gold and reached number 6. With a monster hit to their credit, the band's touring schedule accelerated and on the 2nd of September, they were back in New York's Village Theater opening for Mitch Ryder. Returning to San Francisco, the band opened for Blue Cheer in September at the Fillmore West. A week later, the Fudge headlined for three shows at the Avalon Ballroom where the Charles Lloyd Quintet opened for them. In New York City on the 3rd of November, Vanilla Fudge opened for The Yardbirds at the Village Theater. The Fudge had rapidly achieved headliner status and now began to perform on a global level with the biggest West Coast and European bands of the day.
The dawn of 1968 saw Vanilla Fudge headlining a bill at the Fillmore East with the Steve Miller Band. A week later they performed "You Keep Me Hangin' On" on the Ed Sullivan television show. Trying to repeat their first success, the band attempted to take the concept of long, drawn out songs to a higher level on their second album, "The Beat Goes On". The effort failed, as it lacked the originality of the first and was received poorly, by fans and critics alike. The single from the album, an original called "Where Is My Mind?" never caught on.
Despite their commercial failure, the band toured constantly across the U.S., Canada, and Europe. They also made several other appearances on television in 1968 including the Beat Club and Wonderama TV shows. Starting on the 17th of August in Atlanta, Ga., Vanilla Fudge did a western tour as the opening act for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. It was one of many attempts by the band to gain more exposure on the West Coast. In the fall of 1968, they opened several dates for Cream's farewell tour, as well as sharing the bill with "The New Yardbirds", who would soon change their name to Led Zeppelin.
On November 15th, Vanilla Fudge's version of Donovan's "Season of the Witch", hit the charts as a single, taken from their June LP, "Renaissance" . The album made #20 on Billboard's chart.
On February 2nd, 1969, the Fudge again performed live on the Ed Sullivan show and released their version of "Shotgun" as a single the next day. The same week, Atco introduced a new album called "Near the Beginning", the only Fudge LP produced by the band alone and the first LP without Shadow Morton. Another single, "Some Velvet Morning" was released on the 29th of April. Despite constant touring of the U.S. and Europe, neither disc sold well.
On September 25th 1969, Vanilla Fudge released their final LP, "Rock & Roll". The last single wasn't released until February 3rd 1970, a remix of a Gospel rocker, "Lord In The Country". On March 14th, 1970, Vanilla Fudge played their final and farewell concert at Phil Basille's Action House.
When Vanilla Fudge split, bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice remained together, forming a band called "Cactus", before abandoning their creation in favour of Beck, Bogert and Appice, along with Jeff Beck. Appice also did a lot of session work, recording often with Rod Stewart. Stein worked with Tommy Bolin and Alice Cooper before forging a new career composing advertising jingles, while guitarist Vince Martell later appeared in the Good Rats, a popular Long Island bar-band.
All four original members of The Fudge reunited in 1982, and ATCO Records released "the Best of Vanilla Fudge" LP in that year. In 1984, the band recorded a reunion LP called "Mystery", but it failed to gain much attention. In 1987 and 1988, the band did two reunion tours, and Rhino records released a compilation album, "Psychedelic Sundae" in 1993.
Vanilla Fudge, with drummer Carmine Appice, bassist Tim Bogert and guitarist Vince Martell toured the United States together again in 2001 and 2002, while organist Mark Stein continued to perform on his own. By 2005 the Fudge had reformed with all the original members for a tour with Steppenwolf and The Doors. The band was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame on October 15th, 2006, by former Rascals' leader Felix Cavaliere
In the summer of 2007, HBO's final episode of The Sopranos featured "You Keep Me Hangin' On" as a theme for their series ending cliff hanger. In June of that year, the band went back into the studio to record "Out Through the In Door", a Led Zeppelin cover album that saw a European release only. In March of '08, they appeared on the PBS fundraising program My Music: My Generation: The '60s, where they played "You Keep Me Hangin' On". Those performing included Stein and Martell, with Steve Argy on bass and Jimmyjack Tamburo on drums. Later that month, the original lineup of Vanilla Fudge embarked on an East Coast tour of the United States, but in the summer of that year, Bogert and Appice left once again to concentrate on Cactus, which they had reformed in 2006. Stein and Martell continued on in 2008 and 2009 as Mark Stein and Vince Martell of Vanilla Fudge, with a tour that they called Let's Pray For Peace with Jimmyjack Tamburo on drums and Pete Bremy on bass. Stein and Martell also performed shows during this period with another rhythm section composed of Steve Argy on bass and Mark Dolfen on drums. "Out Through the In Door" was finally released in the US in August of 2009.
In the spring of 2011, Vanilla Fudge set out on what was announced as their farewell tour. The lineup for the tour was: Carmine Appice, Mark Stein, Vince Martell, and Pete Bremy. On March 29th, 2011, the band appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and performed "You Keep Me Hangin' On". This lineup continued to tour throughout 2011 and in February, 2012, with The Yardbirds.
In 2017 the band was still active, playing shows across America on their 50th Anniversary Tour.