It may seem unconventional for a veteran rock star to credit the influence of upbringing and religion for his success and staying power. But Felix Cavaliere is such a veteran.
Cavaliere, founder and former lead singer of the 1960s supergroup, the Rascals (earlier, the Young Rascals), will appear in concert Friday night at the 49th Street Galleria on a double bill with another popular '60s act, the Grass Roots."I'm fortunate to have been brought up on the right side of things in terms of how to behave yourself as a human being, how to behave yourself physically and mentally," Cavaliere said this week in a telephone interview from his home in Nashville, Tenn.
"I achieved what I set out to do in the music business at a very early age," he recalled.
"So when I was approximately 21 or 22 yars old I was very confused in that what I thought was there at the end of that rainbow was not really there. So it caused me to look somewhere else for happiness than the tabloids and the feature articles."
Cavaliere said his search led him to "a man from the east," Swami Satchidananda.
"He basically got me guided back onto a path that I had already began as a boy because my family brought me up as a Catholic. But many of us get off the beaten path and we go out into this great material world of madness. So I was fortunate enough to find out something that many people don't find out until they're 50 or 60 years old: that the material pursuits are not really anything they're cut out to be and you have to look somewhere else."
Born and raised near New York City in 1944, Cavaliere witnessed the birth of what he said would become "our national music," rock and roll. As a teenager, he was the only white member of black doo-wop group.
That influence portended the Rascal's style, what music marketers would call "blue-eyed soul," a term with which Cavaliere was never comfortable.
"To me the label doesn't matter," he said. "It's the music that matters."
Cavaliere can be expected to do the Rascals' hits Friday, including "Good Lovin'," "It's a Beautiful Mornin', " "Grovin' " and one of his personal favorites "People Gotta Be Free.' "
"I wrote it in a very tumultuous year, 1968, right after the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. I was working for his campaign at the time, and the song really has a lot of meaning for me."
"Good Lovin,' " has achieved renewed popularity these days, partly because of its use in the Dr. Pepper television commercial. Cavaliere actually redid the song for the commercial after receiving a call from two would-be recording artists he had tried to help in the '60s. Now advertising executives, they put together the commercial with Cavaliere doing lead, and exposed him, he said, to a new world. He just finished doing a commercial for Coca-Cola.
"To be able to work in this business is a blessing," he said. "There are so many people trying to make a living at it, and having moved down here to Nashiville, I can do it in a way that seems to be sane. The music business on the east and west coast has become so severe and intense, you feel you have to take a saber to work with you."