The Heart of Rock 'n' Roll: Guided By Steven Van Zandt, The Rascals Reunite on Broadway

By Judy Samelson
17 Mar 2013

Eddie Brigati on the back cover of their first LP for Atlantic Records, called "The Young Rascals."


Enter Steven Van Zandt, legendary guitarist, record producer, actor, writer, activist, and a man well-schooled in the three R's: Rock, Roll and Rascals. The first Rock concert Van Zandt ever attended was a Young Rascals gig at the Matawan-Keyport Roller Drome, a New Jersey skating rink known for showcasing local bands. Unbeknownst to him at the time, another Rascals fan was also in the audience. Soon after the two would meet and in time make a little noise of their own as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. But the Rock 'n' roll royalty currently on Van Zandt's mind are The Rascals.

When he inducted the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Van Zandt laid it out plainly. "The Rascals," he declared in pure Jersey-speak, "were the first rock 'n' roll band." He then allowed with a shrug (and his tongue firmly planted in his cheek) for the existence of a few other bands like The Beatles and The Beach Boys, but he stood by his declaration that when these four guys sang and played together, something indescribable happened. And when he brought Danelli, Cornish, Brigati and Cavaliere to the stage to accept the honor and play for fellow musicians and the industry crowd, they put a name to it. Call it chemistry. Or magic.

Still, for fans of The Rascals, a hoped for public appearance remained an unrealized dream. That is, until 15 years later when in December 2012 The Rascals: Once Upon A Dream debuted at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY. What was to be a series of three shows was so successful that more were added to meet the audience demand. And now, even more seasoned fans will get the chance to rediscover The Rascals (and how they helped get us through the '60s), while younger converts are sure to be captured by the music, as this unique entertainment heads for a limited engagement on Broadway. Opening night is April 16 following a preview on April 15.