Arvada Center Blog

Five things you didn’t realize you knew about Felix Cavaliere

Posted by Sarah Kolb on July 16th 2019 to Center News

Five things you didn’t realize you knew about Felix Cavaliere

By Leslie Simon

While his name might not ring a bell, the music that he has created over the past six decades certainly does. Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals will take the Arvada Center Outdoor Amphitheatre stage on August 17th, and we can’t wait to get to “Groovin’” with him. Here are five things you didn’t even realize you already knew about Felix Cavaliere. Grab your tickets and get ready to sing along to some classic 1960s tunes that you know and love.

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1. Felix Cavaliere was a member of Joey Dee and the Starliters when they had their million-record-selling hit “Peppermint Twist.”

They were the house band for the popular Times Square rock-and-roll hangout turned celeb-filled discotheque, the Mafia-run Peppermint Lounge in Manhattan. The club became a launchpad for the dance craze “The Twist.” Since The Twist was a dance where the partners didn’t touch, women no longer had to have a man leading them, and this helped set the tone for the upheavals of social mores in the 1960s.

2. Felix sang and played the Hammond B-3 organ in the seminal 1960s band The Rascals, with Atlantic Records changing their name to The Young Rascals from 1965-1968.

He was one of the early “blue-eyed soul” performers, taking his musical inspirations from R&B and soul music, and artists like Sam Cooke and Ray Charles. The Rascals had their big break when Sid Bernstein, famous for bringing The Beatles to America, was looking for the next big thing. Sid saw them play at The Barge in Long Island, became their manager, and got them signed to Atlantic Records.

Rascals on tour in Hawaii


3. The Rascals had #1 hits with the R&B-influenced songs “Groovin’,” “Good Lovin’,” and “A Beautiful Morning,” which they performed on The Ed Sullivan Show and more. They were the first rock band to play with an orchestra, and they performed to a full crowd at Madison Square Garden with 40 orchestral musicians sharing the stage.


4. “People Got To Be Free” was a political protest song promoting peace and love, and was written after Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated.

In their efforts to have an integrated audience, The Rascals demanded that a black musical act must be on the bill for every one of their shows. Unfortunately, this meant that they basically couldn’t play in the South, and it was a disaster for the band. This was the beginning of the end for The Rascals, but they are commended for progressive thinking and standing by their beliefs.


5. Steven Van Zandt, guitarist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and star of The Sopranos, is a huge fan who considers them the first rock and roll band, and inducted them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Van Zandt produced a series of Broadway performances that he calls a “bio-concert” which contained live performances by The Rascals, complimented by archival footage and video reenactments.

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