Q&A with Felix Cavaliere

Their music can be heard across the globe, spreading the timeless message of peace, love, and happiness. The “Young” Rascals first arrived on the scene in the early ‘60s, and within two-to-three years time, they climbed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 list, with nine hit singles, including such chart-toppers as, “Good Lovin,” “Groovin,” and “People Got to Be Free.”

The original Rascals consisted of four kids from Garfield, New Jersey, who were given their shot at the big time after catching the attention of promoter/manager Sid Bernstein, following a high-energy performance at Long Island’s elite club, The Barge.

“Long Island was where the Rascals were discovered,” said keyboard player/vocalist Felix Cavaliere. “Everything began for us out there.”

Originally written for the Sept. 10 – 16, 2014 edition of The Farmingdale Observer. 

After signing to Atlantic Records, The Rascals would strike it big with their hit, “Good Lovin’” which hit No. 1 on the Billboard music charts in February 1966. They followed suit with a string of hits including, “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long,” “How can I Be Sure,” “A Girl Like You,” and “A Beautiful Morning.”

The Rascals are often considered one of the best “blue-eyed soul” groups to come out of the 1960s, as well as one of the groups with the most record sales. By the early 1970s, The Rascals experimented with more jazz-influenced sounds and would switch labels, to Columbia Records, before ultimately disbanding in 1972.

For Cavaliere, an illustrious solo career would blossom. In 1972, he released his self-titled debut album with the help of producer/musician Todd Rundgren, scoring big with yet another Top 40 hit, “Only a Heart Sees,” which topped at no. 2 on the music charts.

“Music has always reflected the times. I always felt I was speaking directly to our peers,” Cavaliere said. “Artists today, especially females, really get this. As for the message… our generation was truly socially conscious of the world and its difficulties. We all knew that music can and would bring us together and we tried.”

Cavaliere is a classically trained pianist, who grew up in Pelham, New York, listening to such iconic artists as Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, and Sam Cooke.

With an illustrious career spanning more than 50 years, Cavaliere and The Rascals have earned their spot in the annals of music history. Cavaliere’s accolades span far beyond his induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He has also been inducted to the songwriter, vocal group, GRAMMY and Long Island Music Hall of Fames for his musicianship.

Apart from being on the road, touring with The Rascals, he is constantly collaborating and writing new material from his home in Nashville, Tenn.

Although it’s not quite the same line-up as it was in the heyday of the ‘60s, Cavaliere’s Rascals are coming to help kick off Farmingdale’s first-ever music festival, with an outdoor performance for the ages.

“Indoor concerts are more for shows than music… thus the dancing and the lights that are used to entertain,” Cavaliere said. “Outdoors is always a looser, more informal environment.”

As he prepares to headline the second music-filled evening of the festival, Cavaliere said he looks forward to a night full of fun.

“We’re proud to be kicking off this new festival,” Cavaliere said. “As a musician with a band that loves to play, we always enjoy watching the people having a good time.”

Check out Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals on the Main Stage as they close off the two–day music extravaganza on Sunday, Sept. 14, from 6-7:30 p.m.

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