BY ELLIOT STEPHEN COHEN
After a very successful eighteen-month reunion of the four original Rascals (which included singer Eddie Brigati, guitarist Gene Cornish and drummer Dino Danelli), singer-keyboardist Felix Cavaliere says he is equally pleased at being reunited with his band of the previous fifteen years, “Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals.”
“I’m very, very proud of these guys,” said Cavaliere earlier today over breakfast in an Avon, New Jersey, restaurant, overlooking the ocean. “Their musicianship is extraordinary. I, being a musician, really like to have a good time and be able to change things during a show. So, people coming are going to hear a lot of music, not just Rascals music, but some of my solo material, maybe some [Led] Zeppelin, Hendrix or even Temptations songs. I try to give everyone a special evening of entertainment. That’s what I got into the music business for, to make people happy and have fun.”
As to why the original Rascals are not with him on this tour, he explains, “Once [last year’s] tour was over, everybody went home. We had nothing but good feelings towards one another during that time. A lot of the old comradery came back, but you know, when you get to be a certain age, people get a little comfortable in their own little environments. To pull the other guys back on the road is not easy. You have to be a little bit crazy to go on the road at our age. If any of them want to come back and do it, it’s there for them. What is really amazing is that, 50 years after we started, there are still a lot of big promoters that want us.”
In 2012, long-time Bruce Springsteen guitarist and actor Steve Van Zandt who, as a teenager in the 1960s, was a major Rascals’ fan, managed what no one else was able to do for more than 40 years: reuniting the four original band members. Following decades of lawsuits and acrimony, even Cavaliere himself was reluctant at first. “I didn’t want to get burnt again,” he admits. “However,” he adds, “I really have to take my hat off to [Van Zandt]. He was able to get all of these crazy guys back together, especially Eddie who was a little unsure of himself in the beginning. However, after a few shows, he started getting standing ovations. I told him, ‘The people love you, man. They want to see you.’ ”
With a large budget to work with, Van Zandt wrote the script for a very successful musical show based on the Rascals' story called “Once Upon A Dream;” also co-producing and co-directing it. Unlike “Jersey Boys,” the story of the Four Seasons, which had the lead actors performing the music, “Dream” had the authenticity of the actual Rascals recreating their own music. Classic hits like “Good Lovin,” “People Got To Be Free,” “Groovin’ ” and “It’s A Beautiful Morning,” provided the show with an all-too-brief run which ended last December.
So, while the last group reconciliation took over four decades to come to fruition, Cavaliere, 71, is now focused on revitalizing his long-running solo career. In addition to getting back on the road with Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is also in the process of working on his first solo album in four years, but is realistic about the current music marketplace.
“I’ve already written six new songs for the album,” he says. “I don’t know if anyone really wants to hear anything new from me. However,” he adds with a huge laugh, “They’re going to get it anyway!”