May 20, 1967: The Young Rascals’ ‘Groovin’ Hits #1

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Rascals Groovin coverThe New Jersey-born blue-eyed soul band – Eddie Brigati, Felix Cavaliere, Gene Cornish and Dino Danelli – tapped into the spirit of the upcoming summer of love to score their second U.S. chart-topper, which held the #1 slot for four non-consecutive weeks. (The song also reached #3 on the Soul singles chart.)

They had a number of other chart hits including two others – “Good Lovin” (1966) and “People Got to Be Free” (1968) –  that also reached #1. In 1968 they also shortened their name to simply The Rascals. All told, they earned nine Top 20 singles between 1966-68.

“Groovin'” was a perfect song to lead into the “Summer of Love.” It has a slow, laid back style and the lyric “Life would be ecstasy, you and me endlessly” was easily misunderstood to refer to a love triangle: “you and me and Leslie.”

Related: See where “Groovin'” ranked among the top radio hits of 1967

The original line-up began to splinter when Brigati left in 1970 and Cornish followed in 1971; Cavaliere and Danelli carried on into 1972. The foursome were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 by one of their biggest longtime fans, Steven Van Zandt. Brigati and Cavaliere were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2009.

Related: 16 songs that’ll make you feel groovy

The group reunited in 2012 for a unique series of theatrical concerts, The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream, directed and produced by Van Zandt. The biographical production premiered in December of that year with six shows at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY, followed the next year by a run on Broadway and an East Coast tour. Danelli died in 2022.

Cavaliere still actively tours as Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals, often with Cornish. Tickets are available here and here.

A new collection, The Rascals: It’s Wonderful: The Complete Atlantic Studio Recordings, arrives May 31, 2024. It’s available for pre-order in the U.S. here and in the U.K. here.

Best Classic Bands Staff

3 Comments so far

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  1. Gene
    #1 Gene 21 May, 2017, 12:03

    Still play this at gigs, especially during the winter when the snow birds are on the beach, 1967 was a great year for memorable pop songs, Groovin’, Happy Together, Spooky, etc. I was only 10 at the time but my Uncle and Aunt listened to all the late 50’s and 60’s and I would sing-a-long as early as four years old. Love the music during the sixties.

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  2. Da Mick
    #2 Da Mick 21 May, 2022, 12:13

    I think many people either forget or are too young to remember how pervasive the Rascals were to the music scene in their heyday. And how influential they were forevermore. Probably the last of the great 60s “Singles” bands which gave way to listening to whole LP concepts and FM radio, the Rascals R&B driven music more or less bridged the gap from the pop music of the early 60s, often created by studio musicians, to the more band-driven rock of the later 60. And while they tried to cross that gap, their whole LPs, for the most part, didn’t measure up to their fabulous singles, whether it was because of their own shortcomings as songwriters, or because of the budgets they were given for making records at that time. I speak of budgets because the difference of the sonic and production disparity between their singles on an LP and the rest of music on their LPs was incredibly stark, and really held the group back from becoming an “album band,” My understanding is that the record company would pull out all the financial stops for their singles and would put next to nothing into recording the rest of their LPs. That explains a lot about the inequity in the sound of their hits and the rest of their LPs tracks, but doesn’t explain the huge disparity in the quality of their songwriting from hits, to other tracks. In the end, it was this inability to make great albums that doomed the group, as FM radio gradually eclipsed AM and its singles. And, of course, with the Rascals, a huge blow came with the resignation of Eddie Brigati, who was a huge part of the band’s soul, even though Felix Cavaliere was the group’s most prominent lead vocalist. They tried to carry on without Brigati, making a few records. But without the singles formula in place, and Brigati’s beautiful voice in the mix, they weren’t the same, and could never really find their way forward. As a lifelong Rascals fan, I will be forever in LIttle Steven’s debt for getting the Rascals back together and touring in their incredible “Once Upon A Dream” show. The band sounded absolutely fantastic, and it was indeed a dream come true for me, as I found myself in tears listening to Eddie sing “How Can I Be Sure.”

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  3. Mack
    #3 Mack 21 May, 2023, 10:10

    I was 16 in 67. I remember them as being more of a precursor bubblegum kind of band then anything really earth shaking. They sure got butt loads of AM airplay but then everyone I knew was starting to listen to FM. They certainly were no Allman Bros or Traffic

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