Felix Cavaliere was born Nov. 29, 1942 in Pelham, New York. His mother was a pharmacist and his father was a dentist. His mother wanted only the best for her only son, and had dreams of him becoming a classical pianist. To reach this goal, Felix was instructed in piano three times a week from the time he was six years old until his mother passed away when he was fourteen. Felix’s musical influences started to take hold in the forms of idolizing the music of Ray Charles among others. He formed The Stereos while in his teens during which time he started to perfect his vocal abilities. He says his voice was “really bad,” he said he sounded like a frog initially and his voice “needed a lot of help.” He also discovered the Hammond organ sound around this time and was mesmerized by it - the Hammond later became Felix’s own “trademark sound” along with his own beautiful voice.
He was encouraged to attend college (Syracuse University), where he was to study medicine. He was frustrated in college because he really wanted to continue singing and playing in his band. He chose music over school by leaving Syracuse University after twoyears and went on to form a group called The Escorts. He then moved to New York City and got his professional start as a backup musician for Sandy Scott and later Joey Dee and the Starlighters.
Early in 1965, Felix formed the “Young Rascals” with the additions of Dino Danelli, Eddie Brigati and Gene Cornish. On October 28, 1965 The Rascals performed at the Phone Booth, a club in the “discotheque district” of Manhattan’s East Side. Their high-energy set attracted the attention of Sid Bernstein, and the group was signed with Atlantic Records. Before they knew it, they began releasing records.
The Rascals were one of the biggest groups in the country, their hits including the Felix-sung “Good Lovin’”, “Groovin’”, “A Girl Like You”, “A Beautiful Morning”, and “People Got to Be Free”, as they evolved from blue-eyed soul (a term coined to describe them) to pop psychedelia and jazz fusion. Felix sang lead on most of the tracks, while Eddie sang lead on their ballads. The Rascals’ biggest hit, “People Got to Be Free”, was co-written by Felix and Eddie as an impassioned response to the assassinations of Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. It topped the charts for five weeks in 1968 and inspired a follow-up single, “A Ray of Hope”, written for and about Teddy Kennedy. At this juncture, the Rascals began focusing on albums instead of singles. Their more experimental, elongated approach resulted in records like Freedom Suite, a double album from 1969. By the early Seventies, the Rascals had mutated into an impressionistic jazz-rock outfit and moved from Atlantic to Columbia Records. The band continued to record sans Brigati and Cornish from 1971-1972, but without all four founding members, the group could not continue as they had, so what was left of the band finally disbanded in 1972 after the release of their final album (Island of Real).
Felix went on to a solo career during the ‘70s and released one CD in the ‘9’s. His first album was entitled simply Felix Cavaliere and was released in 1974. It was a collaborative piece with Todd Rundgren. There were some excellent songs on this album, and two singles were released from it – “A High Price to Pay/Mountain Man” and “Everlasting Love/Future Train”.
His second release was the following year in 1975 and was entitled “Destiny”. One single was released from this album - “Never Felt Love Before/Love Came”. Ex-Rascal Dino Danelli played drums on “Flip Flop”, and Lesley West and Buzz Feiten were heard playing guitar on the songs. Most of the songs were written by Felix collaboratively with Carmen Moore and Darcy Miller.
The third album Felix participated on was with the group Treasure on the album of the same name which came out in 1977. Two of the songs (“Innocent Eyes” and “Turn Yourself Around”) were written and sung by Vinnie Cusano, the rest were sung by Felix (out of nine songs, Felix sang lead on seven of them). Jack Scarangella played drums as he had on Felix’s first two releases and Rick Laird played Bass.
Felix’s fourth release was called Castles in the Air, which came out in 1979. Three singles came from this album - “Castles in the Air/Outside Your Window”, “Only a Lonely Heart Sees/You Turned me Around”, and “Good to Have Love Back/Dancin’ the Night Away”. This album marked the return of ex-Rascal brothers Eddie and David Brigati who were heard as background vocalists on “Dancin’ the Night Away”, “All or Nothing”, “Castles in the Air”, “People Got To Be Free”.
Felix’s fifth and final solo release to date was entitled Dreams in Motion, which was released in 1994. The songs describe all the hopes, dreams, and ups and downs of loving someone. Felix’s daughters Christina, Laura and Aria sing backup with Felix on the song “Voices Calling”. Don Was co-produced this CD with Felix. One single came out of this CD - “If Not for You/Stay in Love”.
In 1997, the Rascals band members were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the highest recognition a band/musician can receive. Felix is in good company with Hall Of Fame inductees Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Chuck Berry, among other greats!
Felix’s latest release is a collaboration with Steve Cropper, whose guitar, production and songwriting embodied the sound and spirit of Stax and the southern soul of the ‘60s. These two R&B legends come together to Nudge It Up a Notch, a tour de force of twelve smokin’ original tunes, guaranteed to satisfy your soul.
Cavaliere and Cropper have reconvened for their second collaborative recording, Midnight Flyer (2010) a tour de force of twelve original tunes, guaranteed to satisfy your soul. Featuring Steve Cropper (guitarist for Booker T. & The MGs and one of the primary architects of the unmistakable Stax sound of the 1960s) and vocalist/keyboardist Felix Cavaliere (the voice of the Rascals and the pivotal figure in the blue-eyed soul movement of that same era), this release showcases the songwriting prowess of these two towering figures from one of the most seminal periods in the history of American pop music. Recorded in Nashville and mixed by the legendary David Z, this is the follow-up to Nudge It Up a Notch, the 2008 maiden voyage by Cropper and Cavaliere that scored critical acclaim from both the music and mainstream press.
Today Felix lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and still travels the country, performing most every weekend.