The message has always been to stand for peace, love, and happiness. For legendary singer songwriter, FELIX CAVALIERE, making people feel good is primary to his illustrious over 50-year career that includes the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Songwriter Hall of Fame, Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and Grammy Hall of Fame. Few artists can claim they defined a generation; FELIX CAVALIERE continues to remind us to keep listening for the world’s beauty.
The classically trained pianist, born in Pelham, New York, idolized Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, and Sam Cook. FELIX CAVALIERE embraced the Hammond Organ and pioneered a fresh, rock and roll sound. Upon leaving Syracuse University to form the Escorts, and become a backup musician for Joe Dee and the Starliters and later Sandy Scott, who knew that his legendary next stop would be the beginning of an illustrious hall of fame career.
Early in 1965, FELIX CAVALIERE formed the ‘Young Rascals’ with Dino Danelli, Eddie Brigati, and Gene Cornish. That October, they caught the attention of promoter/manager Sid Bernstein with their high-energy set at Long Island’s elite club, Barge. Signed to Atlantic Records, and now called The Rascals, the mega hit “Good Lovin’” struck No. 1 in February 1966. They followed suit with a string of hits like “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long,” “Groovin’(No. 1 in 1967), “How Can I Be Sure,” “A Girl Like You,” “A Beautiful Morning,” and “People Got to Be Free” (No. 1 in 1968). The Rascals are considered the best ‘blue-eyed soul’ group to come out of the 1960s, as well as one of the groups with the most record sales.
By the early 70s, The Rascals experimented with more jazz-influenced sounds, and moved to Columbia Records. The Rascals disbanded in 1972. FELIX CAVALIERE’s solo career thrived during this decade. He released his self-titled debut album with Todd Rundgren at the producer helm. His follow-up albums were Destiny (1974), Castles in the Air (1979) (Castle in the Air produced another Top 40 hit – “Only a Heart Sees” reached No. 2), Dreams in Motion (1994) and in 2008 he collaborated with Stax guitar legend, Steve Crooper, on the Grammy-nominated Nudge it Up a Notch and again in 2010 with Midnight Flyer.
FELIX CAVALIERE calls Nashville home base, where he is constantly collaborating and writing new material. He’s also finishing his memoir and has an active tour schedule with FELIX CAVALIERE’S RASCALS. Visit FELIXCAVALIEREMUSIC.COM.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and legendary guitarist for The Rascals, Gene Cornish was born in 1944 in Ottawa, Canada, into a musical family. His mother, Ada, was a successful big band singer for such bands led by Woody Herman and Ozzie Nelson.
After moving to Rochester, New York, Gene took his stepfather’s last name and began playing music in junior high. His mother and stepfather, Ted Cornish, a successful bait and sporting goods store owner, never wavered in supporting Gene’s musical asperations.
By 1959, he was 15 and had earned a reputation as a talented guitarist. By then, he was fronting his own band, Gene Cornish & The Satelites, with boyhood friend, Pat Proietti. While attending Ben Franklin High School, he started a vocal group called The Nobles, and eventually put out a few records under his own name.
In 1964, he moved to New York City and was doing double duty in Joey Dee & The Starliters, (who had hit the top of the charts a few years earlier with “The Peppermint Twist,”) and his own group, The Unbeatables. The Unbeatables had a novelty hit with a Cornish-penned song called “I Wanna Be A Beatle.”
It was in the Starliters that Cornish met singer and keyboard player Felix Cavaliere and singer Eddie Brigati. All three left to form The Young Rascals with drummer Dino Danelli. After a short few months playing the New York City club scene, Atlantic Records signed the explosive R&B flavored rock band.
Now called The Rascals, the mega hit “Good Lovin’” struck No. 1 in February 1966. They followed suit with a string of hits like “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long,” “Groovin’(No. 1 in 1967), “How Can I Be Sure,” “A Girl Like You,” “A Beautiful Morning,” and “People Got to Be Free” (No. 1 in 1968). The Rascals are considered the best ‘blue-eyed soul’ group to come out of the 1960s, as well as one of the groups with the most record sales.
But the group’s biggest successes were soon followed by its gradual demise. Brigati left in 1970, and Cornish followed in 1971. The remaining Rascals went in a jazz rock direction, but Cornish stayed true to his love of rock and roll.
He re-emerged in 1973, with Dino Danelli in a band called Bulldog, and the pair remained together through a second rock band, called Fotomaker. While both bands had some memorable music, neither could match the commercial success of classic Rascals line-up.
The Rascals reunited for one tour in 1988, and then split into two different versions among differences with the members. Eventually, the members resolved their issues and, in 1997, were inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. Gene Cornish reunited with the other three Rascals in 2010 for a star-studded benefit show. In 2013 a full-blown Rascals reunion finally happened in the acclaimed stage production: The Rascals- Once Upon A Dream, which toured North America after a sold out run on Broadway.
Gene Cornish is a charter member of The Rochester Music Hall of Fame, class of 2012 and returns home yearly for his annual Thanksgiving Jam Session at Rochester’s House of Guitars. From Bruce Springsteen to John Mellencamp, Gene Cornish has influenced many of today’s biggest rock stars, and he continues to weave the fabric of America’s popular culture.