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LEGENDS OF ROCK & ROLL FROM NEW YORK

Felix Cavaliere














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Lead Voice of the legendary Rascals

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By Ken Aspen

"Good Lovin,'" Felix Cavaliere on lead vocals, pretty coo!" declares the main character throughout Steven King's novel, Desperation (Viking, 1996). That line pretty much summarizes the work of one of the most influential singer-songwriters in Rock and Roll History!

Felix Cavaliere was born Nov. 29, 1942 in Pelham, NY. His mother was a Pharmacist and his father was a Dentist. His mother wanted only the best for her only son, and had dreams of him becoming a classical pianist. To reach this goal, Felix was instructed in piano 3 times a week from the time he was 6 years old until his mother passed away when he was 14. Felix' musical influences started to take hold in the forms of idolizing the music of Ray Charles among others. He formed his first band called The Stereos while in his teens during which time he started to perfect his vocal abilities. He says his voice was "really bad", he said he sounded like a frog initially and his voice "needed a lot of help". He also discovered the Hammond organ sound around this time and was mesmerized by it - the Hammond later became Felix' own "trademark sound" along with his own beautiful voice.

He was encouraged to attend college (Syracuse University), where he was to study Medicine. He was frustrated in college because he really wanted to continue singing and playing in his band. He chose music over school by leaving Syracuse University after 2 years and went on to form a group called The Escorts. He then moved to New York City and got his professional start as a backup musician for Sandy Scott and later Joey Dee and the Starlighters.

Early in 1965, Felix formed the "Young Rascals" with the additions of Dino Danelli, Eddie Brigati, and Gene Cornish. On October 28, 1965 The Rascals performed at the Phone Booth, a club in the "discotheque district" of Manhattan's East Side. Their high-energy set attracted the attention of Sid Bernstein, and the group was signed with Atlantic Records. Before they knew it, they began releasing records.

From 1965 through 1969, the Rascals were one of the biggest groups in the country and appeared on the top-rated Ed Sullivan Show several times. Their first big hit came in 1966 with "Good Lovin'," a cover of a tune originally done by the "Olympics," with Felix on lead vocals. Then, in 1967 Atlantic Records released "I’ve Been Lonely To Long," a song penned by Felix and Eddie, and it immediately climbed up to #16 on the record charts! Atlantic immediately gave them a free hand to write and produce their own records and soon after monster Cavaliere-Brigati penned hits like "Groovin'," "A Girl Like You," "A Beautiful Morning," and "People Got to Be Free," as they evolved from blue-eyed soul (a term coined to describe them) to pop psychedelia and jazz fusion. Felix sang lead on most of the tracks, while Eddie sang lead on their ballads. The Rascals' biggest hit, "People Has To Be Free," was co-written by Felix and Eddie as an impassioned response to the assassinations of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. It topped the charts for five weeks in 1968 and inspired a follow-up single, "A Ray of Hope," written for and about Teddy Kennedy. At this juncture, the Rascals began focusing on albums instead of singles. Their more experimental, elongated approach resulted in records like Freedom Suite, a double album from 1969. By the early Seventies, the Rascals had mutated into an impressionistic jazz-rock outfit and moved from Atlantic to Columbia Records.

The band continued to record sans Brigati and Cornish from 1971-1972, but without all 4 founding members, the group could not continue as they had, so what was left of the band finally disbanded in 1972 after the release of their final album (Island Of Real). Felix went on to a solo career during the 70's, had a Top 40 solo hit with "Only A Lonely Heart Sees" in April 1980, and released an array of new albums over the next two decades.

Most impressive is his live album (2003) in which he does newer and more soulful heart-grabbing and incredible renditions of his biggest hit songs originally recorded with the Rascals. It is available from www.felixcavalieresrascals.com, and is a must-have for even the most modest Rascals and Felix Cavaliere fans!

Also of note is that in 1995 Felix toured with Ringo Starr (Beatles), and his "All Starr" band, and in 1997 he was inducted along with the other three former Rascals band members into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, the highest recognition a Rock and Roll band or musician can receive. Felix is in good company with Hall Of Fame inductees Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Tom Petty, The Supremes, The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry and other greats!  Later on that year Felix appeared on a video with his good friend Billy Joel who covered Freddie Scott's "Hey Girl". In the following year (1998), he also appeared on the David Letterman show backing Billy on the Hammond organ for his new CD single release of "To Make You Feel My Love".

Today Felix lives in Nashville, TN, does a lot of commercial work for Hollywood, and still travels the US performing at major venues, media events, and festivals.

The Rascals in 1967
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Gene Cornish, Eddie Brigati, Dino Danelli, and Felix Cavaliere

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Dennis Wilson (Beach Boys) visits with Felix in Hawaii (circa 1967).
















Felix Cavaliere's Rascals Web Site: Click Here

Felix Cavaliere Biography at VH1.com

Felix Cavaliere was born Nov. 29, 1942 in Pelham NY. His mother was a Pharmacist and his father was a Dentist. His mother wanted only the best for her only son, and had dreams of him becoming a classical pianist. To reach this goal, Felix was instructed in piano 3 times a week from the time he was 6 years old until his mother passed away when he was 14. Felix's musical influences started to take hold in the forms of idolizing the music of Ray Charles among others. He formed his first band called The Stereos while in his teens during which time he started to perfect his vocal abilities. He says his voice was "really bad", he said he sounded like a frog initially and his voice "needed a lot of help". He also discovered the Hammond organ sound around this time and was mesmerized by it - the Hammond later became Felix's own "trademark sound" along with his own beautiful voice.
He was encouraged to attend college (Syracuse University), where he was to study Medicine. He was frustrated in college because he really wanted to continue singing and playing in his band. He chose music over school by leaving Syracuse University after 2 years and went on to form a group called The Escorts. He then moved to New York City and got his professional start as a backup musician for Sandy Scott and later Joey Dee and the Starlighters.
Early in 1965, Felix formed the "Young Rascals" with the additions of Dino Danelli, Eddie Brigati and Gene Cornish. On October 28, 1965 The Rascals performed at the Phone Booth, a club in the "discotheque district" of Manhattan's East Side. Their high-energy set attracted the attention of Sid Bernstein, and the group was signed with Atlantic Records. Before they knew it, they began releasing records.

From 1965 through 1969, the Rascals were one of the biggest groups in the country and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show several times. Their first big hit came in 1966 with "Good Lovin'," a cover of a tune originally done by the "Olympics," with Felix on lead vocals. Then, in 1967 Atlantic Records released "I’ve Been Lonely To Long," a song penned by Felix and Eddie, and it immediately climbed up to #16 on the record charts! Atlantic immediately gave them a free hand to write and produce their own records and soon after monster Cavaliere-Brigati penned hits like "Groovin'," "A Girl Like You," "A Beautiful Morning," and "People Got to Be Free," as they evolved from blue-eyed soul (a term coined to describe them) to pop psychedelia and jazz fusion. Felix sang lead on most of the tracks, while Eddie sang lead on their ballads. The Rascals' biggest hit, "People Got to Be Free," was co-written by Felix and Eddie as an impassioned response to the assassinations of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. It topped the charts for five weeks in 1968 and inspired a follow-up single, "A Ray of Hope," written for and about Teddy Kennedy. At this juncture, the Rascals began focusing on albums instead of singles. Their more experimental, elongated approach resulted in records like Freedom Suite, a double album from 1969. By the early Seventies, the Rascals had mutated into an impressionistic jazz-rock outfit and moved from Atlantic to Columbia Records.

The band continued to record sans Brigati and Cornish from 1971-1972, but without all 4 founding members, the group could not continue as they had, so what was left of the band finally disbanded in 1972 after the release of their final album (Island Of Real).

Felix went on to a solo career during the 70's, had a Top 40 solo hit with "Only A Lonely Heart Sees" in April 1980, and released an array of new albums over the next two decades.
Most impressive is his live album in which he does newer and more soulful heart-grabbing and incredible renditions of his biggest hit songs originally recorded with the Rascals. It is available from www.felixcavalieresrascals.com, and a must-have for even the most modest Rascals and Felix Cavaliere fan!
In 1997, Felix Cavaliere along with former Rascals band members was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, the highest recognition a band/musician can receive. Felix is in good company with Hall Of Fame inductees Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Chuck Berry among other greats!
Today Felix lives in Nashville, TN and still travels the country, performing most every weekend.
 
 
















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