On April 17, 2019, Banali was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and was given six months to live. “He put up an inspiringly brave and courage 16-month battle to the end,” his wife wrote in a statement.
In November 2019, Banali opened up about his diagnosis. He said his decision to keep performing live stemmed from the fact that he had “everything to win and everything to lose in this situation. I intend to treat it the way I treat everything, which is to put everything into it and fight it all of the way to the end.”
Regina shared some of Banali’s biggest career moments as a musician in her statement. She wrote that Banali was “most known for his lengthy career as the drummer for that multi-platinum heavy metal band Quiet Riot whose ‘Mental Health’ was the first heavy metal album to reach number one on the Billboard chars and ushered in the 80s metal band era. He is the only member to play on every album Quiet Riot released.”
“His signature tone, deep pocket, and iconic drum intros are immortalized on many hits including Quiet Riot’s ‘Cum on Feel the Noize,’ ‘Mental Health (Bang Your Head), Billy Idol’s ‘Mony, Mony,’ and ‘L.A. Woman.’ and albums such as Hughes/Thrall and W.A.S.P.’s ‘Headless Children and Crimson Idol,’ as well as over 100 other recordings as a session player in every drama.”
Born on November 14, 1951 in Queens, New York, Banali relocated to Los Angeles in the mid-70s. He spent about a year in New Steppenwolf, which was an offshoot of the hard-rock legends led by their former bassist Nick St. Nicholas. In 1979, Banali left to begin working with singer Kevin DuBrow, whose band, Quiet Riot, had broken up after guitarist Randy Rhoads and bassist Rudy Sarzo left to play with Ozzy Osbourne, according to ultimateclassicrock.com.
The prolific drummer is survived by his daughter, Ashley, whose mother was Banali’s first wife Karen, who died in 2009.
Banali is also survived by his second wife, Regina, who directed him in the 2015 documentary Quiet Riot: Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back. Regina said that the end of Banali’s life came after “standard chemotherapy stopped working and a series of stroked make the continuation on a clinical trial impossible. He ultimately lost the fight at 7:18 p.m. on August 20.”
Banali’s First Wife Karen Died From Heart Failure at Age 40
Banali’s daughter Ashley came from his marriage to Karen Banali. They married and 1994 and welcomed their daughter in on February 17, 1997. However, on April 14, 2009, Karen died of heart failure at age 40. He remarried to Regina Russell Banali in November 2015.
Ashley and her dad remained incredibly close. In March, she shared a moving prayer of hope for him on her Facebook page. She wrote, “My gratitude is through the roof for every single prayer that has been sent for my father. He is nothing short of hero in my eyes and many others. I love this man with all of my heart. To The strongest person I know. Keep fighting as you are doing so well. You are so inspiring. I love you to moon and back and then some.”
Banali Opened Up About How Cancer Caused Him to Lose His Trademark Hair
In June, while speaking on Sirius XM’s Trunk Nation with Eddie Trunk, Banali discussed how he was still in treatment and undergoing chemotherapy. He said, “I knew that when we were switching from the first chemo formula that we were doing for almost a year to the new chemo formula, I knew in advance that the different formula was really gonna wipe out the hair.”
“Right now you probably wouldn’t recognize me,” Banali said. “Not only did it take all the hair on the top of my head, but it took my beard, my eyebrows, my eyelashes. Let me put it to you this way: I have just really improved my Olympic swimming chances with the loss of body hair.”
A GoFundMe Set Up To Help With Banali’s Mounting Medical Bills Raised Over $47,000
In April 2020, A GoFundMe account was up by Edem Maureen Beckett to raise money for Banali’s cancer treatment and medical treatment. Beckett wrote,”
[Banali] has undergone 17 rounds of chemo so far, and several palliative procedures to ease symptoms and has been able to make it past the one-year point and even continue playing with the band. It has been a very difficult, painful, and agonizing journey that is not nearly over. He has been getting second opinions, out of network follow up biopsies, infusions, and treatments of alternative therapies that have kept his body strong enough to withstand the chemo.
“This endeavor has accumulated a mountain of medical expenses and now with the pandemic canceling or postponing the entire spring touring season he now being hit financially from the other side as well,” Beckett added, noting that she was aware it’s been a “rough time for everyone,” amid coronavirus. But “if you can contribute anything, it would be greatly appreciated.”
Heartfelt Tributes to Banali Filled Social Media Following the News of His Death
Regina’s Facebook page was filled with messages of condolences and “RIP Frankie” started trending on Twitter, with thousands of fans, friends, and fellow musicians sharing tributes to what Banali and his music meant to them. Dee Snider tweeted, “Wow. What a day. So sad to hear about the loss of @FrankieBanali. He fought hard until the end. His playing and rock ‘n’ roll spirit will live forever. A fellow New Yorker, Frankie was the real deal. RIP my friend. Take me away from all this death.”
Glen Hughes tweeted, “So very sad that my brother Frankie Banali, passed away last night. Frankie played drums on the the Hughes: Thrall album . There was no one more loyal honorable courageous and committed than Frankie. Words cannot express how I feel. Let’s all share the love for Frankie.”