The energy and eccentric humor of its live shows also helped it acquire a following that, while not huge by rock standards, was star-studded: among its fans are Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello and Bonnie Raitt. From 1974 until the band went on hiatus in 2004, Mr. Ardolino’s unorthodox, loose-limbed style, a mix of driving power and subtle musicality, was a key part of its appeal.
Born in Springfield on Jan. 12, 1955, Mr. Ardolino was a fan of NRBQ before he became a member at 19, five years after the group had released its first album. He replaced Tom Staley, the group’s original drummer. Mr. Ardolino later said that except for part of a day spent bagging groceries, playing drums was the only job he ever had.
It was not, however, his only noteworthy musical activity. He also produced several well-received compilations of song-poems, the strange vanity records on which amateur lyricists, for a fee, have their words set to music and recorded by professionals. Through his efforts and those of a few others, these vinyl oddities, few if any of which had ever been sold in stores, found an eager audience among aficionados of outsider art and other connoisseurs of the bizarre.
Explaining his fascination with song-poems to The New York Times in 2003, Mr. Ardolino said that while he liked their “craziness,” he also liked the fact that their often awkward lyrics were “really what people felt.”
Mr. Ardolino is survived by his wife, Keiko, from whom he was separated; a stepdaughter, Emiko; a stepson, Liku; and a brother, Richard.
NRBQ stopped performing in 2004 when the keyboardist Terry Adams, a founding member, became ill. For a while Mr. Ardolino and the other two members, the brothers Joey and Johnny Spampinato, toured under the name Baby Macaroni.
Mr. Adams introduced a new NRBQ last year with himself as the only holdover. Mr. Ardolino, no longer well enough to tour, played on two tracks of the group’s album “Keep This Love Goin’ ” and drew the cover art.