Vanilla Ice

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Vanilla Ice

Yo VIP let’s kick it! It’s ice ice baby, Vanilla.

Had Robert Van Winkle attempted a chart hit, it probably would not have worked. The Dallas born artist (b.1967) got his stage name early on as part of a group of rappers and breakdancers in the mid-1980’s and as the only white boy of the group, where he was nicknamed ‘Vanilla’. By the age of 16, he was calling himself ‘Vanilla Ice’ and wrote a rap about himself called, “Ice Ice Baby”. By 1987 he was performing at gigs as a solo act and in 1989 he was signed to small independent record label, Ichiban Records. He recorded and released a cover of Wild Cherry’s 1976 hit “Play That Funky Music”, although it was far from being a hit and ‘Ice’ left the label.

In early 1990, he was signed by SBK Records, a division of EMI, who were interested in his earlier composition, “Ice Ice Baby”. A lover of covering and using other artists work, the production liberally used Queen and David Bowie’s 1981 smash “Under Pressure” for its hook and with plenty of marketing thrown at it, the song went to the top of the US singles chart in August. Global success followed later in 1990 as the song topped the chart in seven other countries, most notably a four week stay at the top in the UK in November-December. At this time, ‘Vanilla’ released his debut album, “To The Extreme”, which topped the US chart and sold over seven million copies and a further eight million internationally.

A re-released “Play That Funky Music” followed in early 1991, reaching No.4 in America and No.10 in the UK while a third single from the album, “I Love You”, just about scrapped in the lower depths on both sides of the Atlantic. ‘Vanilla’ released a live album later that year, “Extremely Live”, which featured the song “Rollin’ In My 5.0”. Once again this used a sample, this time “Fly Like An Eagle” by Stever Miller Band, although it didn’t chart at home, it made No.27 in the UK while a second single, “Satisfaction”, peaked at No.22 there. He recorded the “Ninja Rap” for the second ‘Turtle’ film, ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze’, the same year as he did with “Cool As Ice (Everybody Get Loose)”, which was recorded for his own ‘movie’, ‘Cool As Ice’, along with British model Naomi Campbell. The song made No.81 Stateside.

That is really where ‘Vanilla’s career comes to an end. Although he continued to release singles and albums throughout the 90’s and into the early 00’s, none of it saw commercial success. He left SBK in 1994 and has been signed to various independent labels ever since. He was photographed for Madonna’s ‘coffee table book’, Sex, in 1992. He popped up again in 2010 with Irish duo Jedward on their single “Under Pressure (Ice Ice Baby)”, which went to No.1 in Ireland and No.2 in the UK, his first hit there in twenty years. He appeared on Dancing With The Stars in 2016 while he took to the stage again in 2017 on the hit US roadshow I Love The 90’s. A biopic is currently in production about his life and career with actor Dave Franco cast in the title role. ‘Vanilla’ will also pop up in the 2020 film ‘The Wrong Missy’, a rom-com in which he plays himself and is even credited as Robert Van Winkle. Full circle!

Vanilla Ice 2020

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Written by Christopher Smith

So perhaps you’ve read an article or two that I’ve written and wondered “just who is this character?”! Well I thought maybe it would be time to introduce myself and what I’m all about. Well it’s all about the music! Having been born in the late 1970’s I was heavily influenced by my parent’s love of ‘popular’ music and rock and roll of the 1950’s and 60’s. My Mother always said she should of married Elvis and my father was, and is still, in love with Sandie Shaw! But while my Dad’s tastes stopped in about 1967, my Mum carried on loving music throughout the 70’s, 80’s and beyond. My first memory was playing on the floor whilst my Mother was ironing one day with the radio on, and hearing ABBA’s “Super Trouper” dancing my nappy off to it! Maybe that’s where it all went wrong…?! Having been subjected to all and sundry in my infant years, I finally found my feet in the mid-1980’s and began ‘partying’ to the likes of Culture Club, Stevie Wonder(!), Elkie Brooks and Bananarama to name but a few! The year 1987 would have a profound effect on my listening tastes and from thereon in my life would be dominated with buying and listening to music. Any number of outstanding songs were released and listened to that year, most notably “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “La Isla Bonita”. That Summer my mind was completely taken over with music and sounds I’d never heard before and I was totally taken in by it all. My father would say “whaaar rubbish you got on naaaaao?” (I’m from Norfolk!) but I was hooked. And it continued so for the rest of the decade and the next. At the beginning of 1988 I ‘met’ my true love and the singer I’ve worshipped more than any other artist or group. You may know of her. She’s from Australia…! Aside from pop music, my tastes are many and varied and continues to grow and expand as I ‘mature’ in age. I’ve always been heavily interested in films and in particular the mechanics of film making and of course film music, so scores and subsequently orchestral music takes up a lot of my tastes and collection. 90’s dance and club tunes also takes up much of the space in my head and I’m surprised my brain has stopped shaking from the years of abuse it took being dragged to nightclubs, often three times a week in my 20’s! I find with each year that passes I regress back to my youth and of course the 1980’s. 80’s music dominates and the lust to see as many 80’s acts and singers play live now is insatiable. I’m still getting into the groove as much as every breath I take, but I’m never gonna give up listening to my heart and pumping up the volume, simply because I LOVE MUSIC…any kind of music!