GOLDMINE: Welcome back to Goldmine. Let’s go back to your Connecticut years and one of your solo albums from the 1970s, Destiny. Your organ and synthesizer work on “You Came and Set Me Free,” along with Joe Farrell’s flute solo on that song are among my favorite moments. “Hit and Run” is a powerful finale with Mountain’s Leslie West on guitar. The single “Never Felt Love Before” is an exciting up-tempo number reminding me of watching The Four Tops on stage dancing and spinning to “I Can’t Help Myself.” Destiny is certainly a diverse collection of songs, which blend together nicely.
FELIX CAVALIERE: Thank you for picking up on that diverse sound. You know The Beatles were so diverse that it encouraged all of us and gave us permission to be diverse. Nowadays I am not sure that you can stray too far from your main musical sound, or the audience will go away. “Never Felt Love Before” was a bit different for me. I agree with you that it almost has a Motown sound. I remember when Elton John & Kiki Dee recorded “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” around that era, kind of a tribute to what you enjoy versus what you normally do. That is what I was also trying to create here.
GM: The flip side of “Never Felt Love Before” was “Love Came,” from the second side of Destiny. Buzz Feiten’s horn arrangement adds to the power of the song, which reminds me of the 1970 gold single “Somebody’s Been Sleeping” by 100 Proof Aged in Soul, co-written by my late friend General Johnson from Chairmen of the Board. You co-wrote this one with Darcy Miller, who is one of the background vocalists along with Gail Boggs, just like on “Never Felt Love Before,” plus Laura Nyro is key to bringing the background vocals to the foreground, like a duet.
FC: On Destiny, the song “Love Came” was very important to me because Laura Nyro was my guest artist on that song. Laura was simply phenomenal. Man, she was so good and a very dear friend. She and I both lived in Danbury for a good deal of time. I was so blessed to have the opportunity to record with her and to have known Laura Nyro.”
Flip side: Love Came
A side: Never Felt Love Before
Debut: August 1975
Bearsville BSS 0305
Felix Cavaliere’s recent comment on the flip side “Love Came” is quoted on page 88 of Tony Renzoni’s new book Historic Connecticut Music Venues: From The Coliseum To The Shaboo. Appendix A is comprised of two Goldmine interviews including our Fabulous Flip Sides 2018 interview with Felix Cavaliere, where we discussed the flip side of “You Better Run,” which is the concert crowd favorite “Love Is a Beautiful Thing.” Cavaliere stated, “We had plenty of time in the studio in the spring of 1966, working on our second album Collections. We wrote ‘Love Is a Beautiful Thing’ there. It all just came together. We had free studio time. When Atlantic had first approached us to join the label we said that we wanted to produce ourselves and they allowed us that freedom. We were in charge. We played all the time in the studio. With ‘Love Is a Beautiful Thing,’ I had started the song and the other guys played their parts to build it up. We were truly a band.” Cavaliere added, “I’ll tell you another flip side story. We always tried to put a really good song on our flip sides, hoping that the DJs would play that one too, like they would with The Beatles. For ‘Good Lovin’,’ which was a No. 1 selling single, we had our version of ‘Mustang Sally’ on its flip side. Many years later, after a concert, a guy came up to me with a hug and kiss, saying that I helped to change his life. It was Mack Rice, who wrote ‘Mustang Sally.’ I guess between Wilson Pickett and our band we did change his life with our 1966 version.”
Renzoni’s new book begins with a two-page foreword from Cavaliere where he stated, “Soon after ‘Good Lovin’’ reached No. 1 on Billboard, The Young Rascals performed to a sell-out crowd at the New Haven Arena on May 7, 1966. Playing the New Haven Arena in those days was an exciting and enjoyable experience. The fan reaction there and all across the United States to ‘Good Lovin’’ and our subsequent records was incredible. I have always been told that people not only enjoyed listening to our records but also loved seeing The Rascals live in concert. You see, that’s the beauty of music venues and why they are such an integral part of the music process. Music venues serve as a place where the musician’s music comes to life. When we put out a new single, we would debut it with the audiences in music venues throughout the country. We could tell if our new record would be a hit by watching the fans’ reaction and feeling the energy in those concert venues.”
Cavaliere continued with his Connecticut connections, “It was a Connecticut native Lori Burton who helped launch our Top 100 singles debut, co-writing our first song, “I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore.” When Burton passed away in 2021, it was Cavaliere who called Goldmine to let us know, so that we would include her in our In Memoriam series.
In Renzoni’s book we learn that Felix Cavaliere lived in Connecticut for over seventeen years, from 1969 to late 1986, and during that period he recorded at least five albums and eleven singles with The Rascals before the group’s breakup in 1972, and then recorded and released at least four solo albums. Renzoni spotlights Cavaliere’s chart success in Connecticut versus Billboard ranking of his singles in a table on page 99.
Felix Cavaliere’s book Memoir of a Rascal is planned to be published on March 22 of this year and Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals will be performing on January 20 at Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield, Connecticut, with more dates shown on Cavaliere’s website.
Keith Richards is featured at the beginning of the Goldmine interviews Appendix A. Richards has lived in Connecticut for well over twenty-five years and was interviewed by fellow Connecticut resident Goldmine Editor Patrick Prince. Prince asked The Rolling Stones’ guitarist about his side project The X-Pensive Winos. Richards stated, “I needed to do the Winos stuff in order to plow forward and go on with what Mick and I had to do. We needed that break and a fresh look at things, you know.”
Prince also spoke with Richards for his early 2021 Goldmine article about two musicians who would pass away later that year, The Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts and Labelle’s Sarah Dash, who worked with both The Rolling Stones and Keith Richards’ solo projects. Since Watts’ passing Steve Jordan has filled in as The Rolling Stones’ drummer and has worked with Richards in The X-Pensive Winos. Richards said, “Charlie Watts said something to me before I did anything solo. He said, if you think the occasion arises where you got to work outside of the Stones, he told me that Steve Jordan is my man. I took Charlie at his word. Steve and I have developed a relationship far beyond just his drumming or music or anything. We got into the writing end of it and are still firm, firm friends.” Regarding Sarah Dash, Richards told Goldmine, “The Stones toured with Patti LaBelle’s group around 1965. That was when Sarah was sort of allowed out of school to work with LaBelle’s group over the summer holiday. That’s when we met, and I never forgot her. Then her name cropped up, I think through Steve Jordan. While we started putting together the Winos, he said, ‘We’re going to need a female, you know, boys,’ and Sarah Dash’s name came up, and what an incredible lady and what a voice.”
Other Connecticut musicians highlighted in Tony Renzoni’s new book include four who we have featured in Goldmine Fabulous Flip Sides interview articles in recent years, Jose Feliciano, Meat Loaf, Ken Evans from The Fifth Estate and Dennis Dunaway from the Alice Cooper band.
Jose Feliciano and his wife Susan have been Connecticut residents since 1990. Feliciano stated, “There’s so many great musicians in Connecticut. This state has a tremendous musical history.” His accomplishments include 45 gold or platinum records, nineteen Grammy nominations and nine Grammys. His 1968 rendition of The Doors’ “Light My Fire” reached No. 3 in the United States and No. 1 in Canada and the U.K. and was a major hit on Connecticut radio stations. Feliciano’s 1970 song “Feliz Navidad” has become a holiday classic. During the time he has been a Connecticut resident, Feliciano has recorded over twenty singles and albums in English and Spanish. His most recent album is Behind This Guitar which opens with his patriotic composition “I’m America,” which was included in Goldmine’s Fabulous Songs of 2020 list.
Meat Loaf lived in Connecticut from 1979 through the end of 1988. During that time, he released five albums and twenty-one singles, had six major tours, appeared in six feature films and was involved in three television shows. In 1978, Meat Loaf performed at Pinecrest Country Club in Shelton, Connecticut, after “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” became a No. 1 hit on WAVZ in Connecticut. Karla DeVito joined him on stage, performing the duet “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” while Ellen Foley, who sang the female part on the multi-million selling album Bat Out of Hell, was committed to the musical Hair. Meat Loaf’s most recent album is 2016’s Braver Than We Are, his fifth with his creative partner Jim Steinman, who passed away in 2021. Also, in 2021, Ellen Foley released the album Fighting Words, which ended with the Jim Steinman composition “Heaven Can Wait,” originally included on Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell Album. Foley’s new album also includes a duet with Karla DeVito, “I’m Just Happy to Be Here.” Both songs appear in our Goldmine Fabulous Songs of 2021 list.
Meat Loaf 1978, concert photo by Anastasia Pantsios
Ken Evans, drummer for Connecticut’s The Fifth Estate, has been interviewed multiple times in recent years for Goldmine. In Renzoni’s book, the musician from the group who brought us the 1967 hit “Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead” said, “Our sound evolved from surfing instrumentals in 1963 to pop/rock tunes in 1964, edgier rock and roll in 1965, adding more R&B in 1966 and adding more harpsichord and psychedelia in 1967, all without losing our rock and roll dance band center, which we maintain even today.” The Fifth Estate’s most recent release is 2020’s Garunge Deluxe, with a great blend of new and old recordings.
Dennis Dunaway gained fame as the bassist for the Alice Cooper band. The Connecticut resident also won a Grammy for co-writing “School’s Out.” The original Alice Cooper band sold millions of singles and albums and had the largest grossing tour in 1973, more than Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. The Billion Dollar Babies album, which was recorded in Greenwich, Connecticut, reached No. 1 in America and Britain, and the group is recognized as the innovators of theatrical rock shows. In Renzoni’s book Dunaway reflected, “Connecticut had its own great rock scene. Most of the musicians that played in the many Connecticut venues also played in New York City, so that kept the quality pretty high for bands.” Dunaway and other members of the classic Alice Cooper band lineup appear on songs on Alice Cooper’s 2021 Detroit Stories album, produced by Bob Ezrin, including the song “Social Debris,” which was included in our Goldmine Fabulous Songs of 2021 list.
Tony Renzoni’s informative, entertaining and reasonably priced Historic Connecticut Music Venues book has been released today through The History Press. At close to 200 pages, it includes historic highlights of music venues, interview quotes, and exciting photos from professional photographers who we have published in Goldmine including Ivor Levene, Philamonjaro and Anastasia Pantsios. This is Renzoni’s fourth book and his second on Connecticut music.