People Magazine Article
(May 12th, 1997)
The Rascals Lonely Too Long
After 26 years of Estrangement, the not-so-Young Rascals
Harmonize for a Night at Rock's Hall of Fame
When 55,000 Beatlemaniacs mobbed Shea Stadium to cheer
the Fab Four in 1965, precious few had ever heard of the
local bar band whose name kept flashing on the scoreboard
- "The Rascals Are Coming!" - even before the music began.
Furious that another group was being hyped, Beatles manager
Brian Epstein threatened to cancel the show. The sign was
turned off, but a victory had already been won. "The gimmick
worked," says former Rascals manager Sid Bernstein, who
had access to the scoreboard because he promoted the concert
at Shea. Immediately afterward, Bernstein was flooded with
calls from record companies and curious kids. "The group,"
he says with a mischievous grin, "had a fan club before
anybody heard a note of their music." That fan club quickly
grew into a mob. Within months the Rascals, a bunch from
the New York City metropolitan area who wore modified mop-tops
and knickers, scored a No. 1 hit with "Good Lovin'," a rock
classic that has sold 30 million copies to date. Countering
the British Invasion with their blue-eyed soul, the group
toured the U.S., made several appearances on The Ed Sullivan
Show and reeled off a string of hits including "Groovin',"
"How Can I Be Sure?" and "A Beautiful Morning." "It was
the days of the astronauts, and I remember feeling the same
kind of exhilaration, like the rocket took off," says Rascal
organist Felix Cavaliere.
Eventually, though, the Rascals crash-landed, splitting
in 1971 over creative differences. Later, former bandmates
sued Cavaliere over copyright infringement and royalty disputes.
But there may be happy ending yet. On May 6 the Rascals
- Cavaliere, 54, singer Eddie Brigati, 51, guitarist Gene
Cornish, 52, and drummer Dino Danelli, 51 - plan to play
together for the first time in 26 years when they are inducted
- along with Joni Mitchell; the Buffalo Springfield; Crosby,
Stills, and Nash; the Bee-Gees; Parliament-Funkadelic; and
the Jackson 5 - into Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
"It's going to be great," says Cornish. "All I want is for
our hearts to beat as one." Cavaliere, however, pooh-poohs
any ideas of a reunion album or tour. "I'm not going to
play (with them) after that one night," he says dismissively.
Things certainly seemed simpler back in 1965, when the group
gathered in the basement of Cavaliere's parents' home in
Pelham, N.Y. The classically trained keyboardist, who had
been playing with Joey Dee and the Starlighters, jammed
with New Jersey-born drummer Danelli and fellow ex-Starlighters
Cornish, from Rochester, N.Y. and Brigati, another New Jersey
native. The mix of talent "was something I had never heard
before," Cornish recalls. "Felix played organ like no one
in the world, and Dino Danelli - forget about it. I'm still
in awe of him 30 years later. And Eddie Brigati just sang
Success was heady stuff, but the pressure took it's toll.
"I had a Rolls-Royce and a Jaguar and could never put any
miles on them," says Cornish, explaining that the group
routinely worked six days a week. "I covered myself from
head to foot with the whatever-you-want-to-call-it - the
sins of life," admits Cavaliere. As the harder edged Hendrix
era arrived, the band lost its way in search of a new sound.
"Everybody wanted total freedom to create," says Danelli.
"Within our little structure, where there was a formula,
it was hard to do that." When the group disbanded, "it was
almost like a family breaking up," says Cavaliere. "We were
very close. Our families shared the holidays." They were
also bitter, taking potshots at one another's integrity
and talent. "I thought we were above this vicious behavior,
but I was wrong," says Cavaliere. Bad vibes surfaced in
1989 and again in '91, when Cavaliere was sued by his ex-pals.
They first accused him of appropriating the "Rascal" name
for his own band and later on, of mishandling royalties.
Both suits were settled out of court, but animosity lingered;
when Cornish had quadruple by pass surgery in '95, Cavaliere
Today, Cornish, who lives with his girlfriend in Hudson
County, N. J., and Danelli, who shares a Manhattan flat
with his girlfriend of 18 years, spend summers performing
at small outdoor concerts with the new Rascals. Cavaliere
lives near Nashville with his wife of 27 years, Theresa,
and two of their children, and performs with the corporate-sponsored
Northwest All-Star Band. Brigati, a Morris County, N.J.,
resident, appeared with his brother David, a former Rascals
backup singer, in Donald Fagen's New York Rock and Soul
Revue. While the sniping continues, all four Rascals look
forward to the Hall of Fame bash. "I truly still love all
these guys," says Cornish. "Maybe the Hall of Fame will
mature us to the point where we can go, 'Hey you were wrong,
I was wrong. Shake, pal.'"