Appice took up the drums at the age of nine, taking lessons from the same teacher as his brother Carmine Appice. When he was sixteen, Appice and his band BOMF met John Lennon at Record Plant Studios, leading to him appearing on several Lennon recordings. He moved on to record with Rick Derringer on Derringer (1976), Sweet Evil (1977), and Derringer Live (1977), before forming his own band Axis and recording It's A Circus World (1978).
Appice joined Black Sabbath during the tour in support of the Heaven and Hell album in 1980. He was quickly brought in to replace original drummer Bill Ward, who quit the band mid-tour due to personal issues. Appice arrived for his first show with Black Sabbath at the Aloha Stadium in Hawaii with his entire drum kit packed into the back of a car. He was forced to learn the band's songs on stage, using hastily written crib notes for each unfamiliar song. A sudden rain storm made the ink run on Vinny's notes. According to an interview conducted at NAMM in 2012, Vinny stated that at the end of the show during the bows he tossed the notebook into the crowd. Appice subsequently appeared on the Black Sabbath albums Mob Rules (1981) and Live Evil (1982).
In late 1982 he left Black Sabbath along with vocalist Ronnie James Dio and formed the band Dio. They recorded Holy Diver (1983), The Last in Line (1984), Sacred Heart (1985), Intermission (1986), and Dream Evil (1987). In December 1989 Appice left Dio and briefly teamed up with Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson in the band Flesh & Blood.
Appice joined World War III in 1990 and in 1992 he returned to Black Sabbath for the Dehumanizer album and tour. "I like Vinny – he's a nice chap," Tony Iommi reflected to the Sabbath fanzine Southern Cross. "Vinny was asked to continue with the Sabbath thing, but he didn't. I like Vinny's playing." Appice rejoined Dio and they recorded Strange Highways (1994) and Angry Machines (1996).
Prior to the 1996 tour, Appice played drums for Las Vegas–based guitarist, Raven Storm, on his album The Storm Project, which also involved long-time Dio engineer and producer, Angelo Arcuri. Arcuri was also a childhood friend of the Appice brothers.
In 2005 Appice appeared on a rap recording by Circle of Tyrants, whose lineup included Necro, Ill Bill, Goretex, and Mr Hyde, also collaborating with Alex Skolnick. Appice played two shows in Las Vegas with the Sin City Sinners in October 2009. Appice rejoined his Black Sabbath bandmates Ronnie James Dio, Geezer Butler, and Tony Iommi in 2006 as Heaven & Hell, touring and releasing one studio album, The Devil You Know, before Dio's death in 2010.
In 2006 he recorded the CD Dinosaurs, together with Carl Sentance, Carlos Cavazo and Jeff Pilson. The CD was produced by guitarist-musician Andy Menario (leader of Martiria band) and featured lyrics written by Italian poet Marco Roberto Capelli, who is also Martiria's lyricist.
He is currently participating in "Drum Wars" shows with his brother Carmine, which feature a guest appearance from vocalist Paul Shortino.
Appice formed the band Kill Devil Hill with former Down and Pantera bassist Rex Brown, guitar slinger Mark Zavon and lead vocalist Dewey Bragg. Kill Devil Hill's self-titled debut album was released May 22, 2012, via Steamhammer/SPV and landed at #9 on the Billboard Top New Artist Albums (HeatSeekers) Chart, #41 on the Top Hard Music Chart and #50 on the Independent Album Chart.
Following the death of Dio frontman Ronnie James Dio in 2010, the original lineup of Vinny Appice on drums, Jimmy Bain on bass, Vivian Campbell on guitar and Claude Schnell on keyboards reunited along with vocalist Andrew Freeman to perform covers of Dio songs they originally recorded.
On November 25, 2013, it was announced that Appice had formed a new band called WAMI, which features vocalist Doogie White, bassist Marco Mendoza, and 16-year-old Polish guitarist Iggy Gwadera. On February 12, 2014, the upcoming album title was revealed to be Kill the King, due for release in the spring. On February 25, the album cover and track listing were revealed.
On March 10, 2014, it was announced that Appice had left Kill Devil Hill, and that former Type O Negative drummer Johnny Kelly was his replacement.
Last in Line began recording tracks for a new album of original material in April 2014, followed by the release of a snippet of the new track "Devil in Me" in June. The album, produced by former Dio bassist, Jeff Pilson, was announced to have an expected release date in early 2016.
In early 2014 Appice joined hard rock band Hollywood Monsters where he played on the album Big Trouble (on 8 tracks out of 11) which was released in 2014 on Mausoleum Records. The album features Steph Honde on vocals and guitars, Tim Bogert on bass, Don Airey on keyboards and Paul Di'Anno on lead vocals on the bonus track. The same year, Appice was a guest performer on Eli Cook's album, Primitive Son.
In 2015, it was announced that Appice will appear on the EP "Mainly Songs About Robots" by Australian progressive rock band Toehider, to be released in September 2015. One week later on 17 November, Last in Line released a music video for their premiere single "Devil in Me", and announced that their debut album, entitled Heavy Crown would be released on 19 February 2016. The band will release a studio album of original material without Schnell. The same year, Appice was invited to play drums for a new project of Whitesnake and former Night Ranger guitarist Joel Hoekstra, called Joel Hoekstra's 13, with an album called Dying To Live, released on October 16.
On September 30, the new Resurrection Kings band was announced. The band is formed by Appice with former Dio guitarist Craig Goldy, Sean McNabb on bass and Chas West on vocals. On January 29, 2016, the self-titled album will be released featuring its single "Who Did You Run To" and "Livin' Out Loud".
On January 18, 2017 Vinnie was inducted into the Hall of Heavy Metal History for his contributions to Heavy Metal drumming.
Appice currently endorses ddrum drums, Evans drumheads, Istanbul Mehmet cymbals, and Vic Firth drumsticks. He has, in the past also used Ludwig, Tama, and dw drums, as well as Aquarian drumheads and at one point used Zildjian and then Sabian cymbals.
Drums: ddrum Reflex Powerhouse series:
Appice frequently alters his drum and cymbal setup depending on the artist he's playing with, but usually favors a setup consisting of a 24"x16" bass drum, 10"x8" and 13"x10" rack toms, and 16"x16" and 18"x16" floor toms with a 14"x6.5" snare.
Drumheads: Evans:Snare: EC1 Reverse Dot
Toms: G2 Clear or Black Chrome
Bass: EQ2 Clear
Cymbals: Istanbul Mehmet:
Appice usually favors a simple cymbal setup consisting of hi-hats, a ride, two, three, or four crashes, and a china.14" Session hi-hats or 14" Sultan hi-hats
17" Sultan crash or 18" Session crash
19" Radiant crash
20" Realistic Rock crash
20" Sultan ride or 20" Radiant ride
18" Traditional china
Drumsticks: Vic Firth:Vic Firth 5B drumsticks
It's A Circus World (1978)
Mob Rules (1981)
Live Evil (1982)
Black Sabbath: The Dio Years (2007)
Live at Hammersmith Odeon (2007)
Live from Radio City Music Hall (2007)
The Devil You Know (2009)
Neon Nights: 30 Years of Heaven & Hell (2010)
Holy Diver (1983)
The Last in Line (1984)
Sacred Heart (1985)
Dream Evil (1987)
Strange Highways (1993)
Angry Machines (1996)
Inferno - Last in Live (1998)
Sweet Evil (1977)
Derringer Live (1977)
World War III (1990)
The Flesh & Blood Sessions (1999 / 2013)
The Storm Project (2001)
Edge of the World (2002)
Dinosaurs – Powerzone Record (2006)
Frozen Summer (2006)
Kill Devil Hill (2012)
Revolution Rise (2013)
Children of the Sea (Black Sabbath cover, feat. Vinny Appice (2012)
Big Trouble (Feat. Vinny Appice, Tim Bogert, Paul Di'Anno and Don Airey) (May 2014 in the U.S., July 2014 rest of the world)
Kill the King (2014)
Mainly Songs About Robots (2015)
Between lights and shadows (2016)
Dying To Live (2015)
When The Devil Comes (2015)
Resurrection Kings (2016)
Heavy Crown (2016)
Reaching dreams Song "Success is to live" (the life) (2017)