The Rascals

  • Rock band formed in 1965 from Garfield New Jersey. The original members were Eddie Brigati (lead and backing vocals, percussion, songwriting), Felix Cavaliere (lead and backing vocals, keyboards, songwriting), Gene Cornish (lead and backing vocals, guitars, occasional songwriting) and Dino Dinelli (drums). Eddie’s brother David Brigati also contributed some vocals, but was not an official member of the group.
  • Cavaliere founded a doo-wop group in college called the Escorts, and in 1964 he became a member of the Starliters. The Starliters already had a hit in 1961 with Peppermint Twist. David Brigati was a member of the Starliters, and he had a younger brother named Eddie who also wanted a career in music. Cavaliere liked Eddie’s singing and Cavaliere told Eddie that someday they would form a group. Meanwhile, Cornish joined the Starliters in 1965. Soon after, Cavaliere invited Cornish, Eddie Brigati and drummer friend Dinelli to start a new group, calling themselves the Rascals.
  • They developed an R&B-soul sound based on Cavaliere’s organ playing and soulful vocals. Brigati could not play any instruments (though they bought him a bass, hoping that he could learn to play it), so Cavaliere provided the bass notes with the foot pedals on the organ. They were discovered by talent manager Sid Bernstein, who had successfully brought the British Invasion to America by promoting the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and other British acts in the states. Bernstein promoted the Rascals, posting a message saying “The Rascals are Coming” at the Shea Stadium scoreboard before the Beatles started their famous performance at the stadium. The recognition got the band a recording contract.
  • Before releasing their debut album, another group named the Harmonica Rascals objected to the use of the name Rascals. The quartet decided to avoid the controversy by changing their name to the Young Rascals. They remained the Young Rascals from 1965 to 1967. Their first single, I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore barely charted, but their follow-up single, a cover of Good Lovin’, topped the Hot 100, helped by an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Soon after Good Lovin’ was released, their debut album The Young Rascals was released. It reached #15 on the Billboard 200 album chart, containing mostly covers of folk and soul tunes.
  • Cavaliere and Brigati began to write music together, and their next album featured four self-penned songs while Cornish contributed two more. The Collections album was released in 1967, and two singles broke into the top 20 of the Hot 100 – You Better Run (covered by Pat Benatar in 1980) and I’ve Been Lonely Too Long. Their next album was released later in 1967 – the title track Groovin’ became their second #1 single. Another single from the album, How Can I Be Sure, peaked at #4 on the chart.
  • Starting in 1968, the group’s albums and concerts referred to them as just the Rascals. Three albums were released between 1968 and 1969, along with a Greatest Hits compilation album. The compilation album Time Peace: The Rascals Greatest Hits was their only album to top the Billboard album chart. It included a single that was not previously released – A Beautiful Morning reached #3 on the Hot 100 chart. Their final #1 song was released in 1968 – People Got To Be Free from the Freedom Suite album also reached #1 in Canada (their sixth #1 song in Canada).
  • Three albums released in the early 70s were less successful. Brigati left in 1970, and Cornish left the following year. By 1972, the Rascals had disbanded. In 1988, Cavaliere, Cornish and Dinelli reunited for a brief tour. Into the 90s, Cornish and Dinelli toured, using the name the New Rascals. Meanwhile, Cavaliere pursued a solo career, sometimes billing himself as Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals.
  • In 2012, the original lineup reunited for the first time in over forty years. An event called The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream was created. It was a theater piece that ran for six performances, followed by fifteen performances on Broadway. In 2013, the show was taken on the road for a six month run at various cities on the east coast.
  • The Rascals were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Cavaliere and Brigati were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009. Their brand of blue-eyed soul music fooled early fans who thought that the group was comprised of black musicians. I guess their performance on Ed Sullivan corrected that. Here is the Rascals performing Good Lovin’ on The Ed Sullivan Show. 

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