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From Syracuse University to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

From the classrooms of Syracuse Univerisity to the hallways of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Music legend Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals sat down to talk with WAER's Rachelle Legrand about his legacy in the music industry and his new memoir.

Q: You came in as a pre-med major, how on Earth did you make that transition to music?

A: I started very, very young as a classically trained piano player. My mom wanted me to at least be at least educated in music. I go to school and I’m involved in what I thought my parents wanted me to do, pre-med, and I started a band up there. You really don't know- and I use the word God because it’s easier- has got in store for you. The easiest way I can say is that this door opened for me, and I went in it, and I really didn't want to go back. I had no idea I was going to be in this business.

Q: When you first got discovered you were performing live, and you said that a lot of people when you put them on stage, it’s not that kind of star quality, the artistry isn’t there. Do you feel that it’s the same thing today?

A: A major part of my life has been, I study with a guru. I studied with a man from India named Swami Satchidananda. He would speak in front of sometimes hundreds of thousands of people. I said, Swamiji, when you go on stage, do you know what you're going to say? No. He says, Well, I work off the energy of the crowd. In other words, I feel them, they feel me. And I get this kind of like, you know, passage of energy. I have never, ever been nervous in front of a camera or a microphone since that day, because I realize I get it. It’s so much easier when you don’t let that ego take over your fears. That’s the secret. Just go out there and do your thing.

Q: Whenever you get up there and you perform, and you're on stage, it's like you don't hear the same song twice. You make it a different arrangement every time. Can you tell me a bit more about that?

A: If you're very creative, it's very hard to do the same thing over and over. That’s what happened to me with classical music. I felt confined. The more creativity you have, the more nuances you take, and that’s what it’s all about. Creativity is really divine, because when you can create, you are definitely connecting.

Q: How important is it to be versatile in this industry?

A: I think that's a matter of taste and growth and personal ambition and what you want to do. If you’re interested in something, it’s not work, it’s joy. You pick it up and if you’ve got the talent and the ability, you can do it.

Q: How has this book made you think a lot about your legacy as an artist and seeing how things have come full circle?

A: It all comes full circle to what I learned from the guru, because the major enemy of life is called ego. That's what gets in the way of everything. That's one of the things that I was hoping the book would heal. I would like not only this world to heal, I would like my group to heal.

Editor’s note: This story has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Memoir of A Rascal: https://felixcavalieremusic.com/product/749338

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Thomas Honan
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Thomas Honan