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Felix Cavaliere - From Pelham, NY to Rock n Roll Hall of Fame

  by Lisa Torem

published: 8 / 9 / 2022

Felix Cavaliere - From Pelham, NY to Rock n Roll Hall of Fame


In 'Raging Pages' Lisa Torem finds that The Rascals' Felix Cavaliere shares insights regarding the American band's hits and challenges, as well as his spiritual growth in his new autobiography, 'Memoir of a Rascal'.

The cover of Felix Cavaliere’s memoir is graced by a striking black and white image taken by the late Linda McCartney. The shadow of the organist-singer-songwriter’s clapped hands against a door and the folds of his striped shirt intrigue; it’s a perfect setup for his illuminating backstory. Cavaliere achieved his dream of creating a supergroup back in the 1960s, The Rascals (originally The Young Rascals) became a major influencer of subsequent rock ‘n’ roll bands in the U.S. and across the pond. Interestingly, Cavaliere was slated to become a doctor, or at least, that was his family’s dream. His father was a successful dentist; his mother, a pharmacist, who insisted that her son take piano lessons several times a week. His close-knit Italian family had high, professional expectations for their children. Although he didn’t ultimately follow his slated path, Cavaliere did become a success in the music business, but had the unenviable task of breaking the news to his father at one terribly dramatic juncture. They reached a compromise; Felix would test out the waters and see where life would take him over the course of a year—but that year did not result in Felix pursuing a pre-med curriculum because the music bug bit hard and there was no turning back. When Felix was barely a teen, his mother died. Although he came from a devout Catholic background, he didn’t find the answers he was looking for within the confines of his religion. He longed to understand why a religious woman who followed all the rules was taken at such an early age. His spiritual path took on new meaning, however, when he met ‘Swamiji,’ and developed a profound friendship which lasted for years. These inspirational tales speak affirmatively about the performer’s sense of discipline. There was a lot of ground to cover in this memoir and Cavaliere recounts the highs and lows clearly and earnestly. He takes us back to the East Coast club scene where his original line-up nabbed a spot in the swanky Hamptons at The Barge. Luckily, the band was in a position to attract notables such as Sid Bernstein, a prominent Beatles promoter. Their early music, which included upbeat R & B covers, got the crowd dancing and drinking. Dino Danelli, Gene Cornish, Eddie Brigati and Cavaliere were all talented musicians in their own right, but their collective chemistry got them signed to a record deal within six months. Cavaliere may be best known for his seven years with The Rascals, but other important stages in his life keep us tied to the page, too, including his role as a producer with Laura Nyro, affection for his Nashville-based band, valiant views on social justice, overall professionalism and uncompromising love for his wife, children and grandchildren. ‘When you’ve been through a life spent in rock ‘n’ roll and come out on the other side, that’s pretty much something for which you have to be grateful,’ Felix states, and then goes on to say, ‘’I’m certain there’s no coincidence that the name ‘Felix’ translates from the Latin to “lucky and successful.’ That same positivity is reflected in The Rascal hits: ‘Good Lovin’ and ‘Groovin’, which the reader will also get to celebrate alongside one of America’s most treasured acts. Raging Pages considers this to be a fast and enjoyable read with great images to boot.

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Interview (2022)
Felix Cavaliere - Interview
American singer-songwriter-organist Felix Cavaliere, who founded The Rascals in the 1960s, shares his deep knowledge of the music industry, talks about his memoir and more.

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