Originally the Young Rascals, a nod to the old Our Gang and Little Rascals comedies. Some of them were members of the Starlighters (Joey Dee's backing band, of "Peppermint Twist" fame) at one time or another before forming the Rascals.

Signed to Atlantic Records, they had an early #1 hit with "Good Lovin'" (1966); other big hits were "Groovin'" ("...on a Sunday afternoon") and "I've Been Lonely Too Long". The Rascals were probably the New York City area's first great rock band (a shout-out to all my peeps on Strong Island!), and America's foremost proponents of blue-eyed soul in the mid/late 60s - guitarist Gene Cornish would jokingly point out that he was the only one in the group with blue eyes.

Then they got a little trippier - "A Beautiful Morning" and "It's Wonderful" were still cool and soulful. "How Can I Be Sure?" was a classic ballad (if you like that sort of stuff); "People Got to Be Free" was a Top 40 anthem. The hits kept on coming.

The real change came around the time of See (1969), complete with Yogananda references, jazz-muso guests, and such, though the title track was still high-energy stuff. The original group would eventually disband, and leader Felix Cavaliere formed a new jazzier Rascals.

The band's stylistically-varied output over the years is All Good, but it's the hits that got them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and deservedly so. Their late-period co-producer, Arif Mardin, would later do a makeover on the Bee Gees, transforming them from ethereal pop warblers into ethereal rhythm and blues warblers; it was his idea to have Barry (it was Barry, wasn't it?) sing in falsetto.

So that's how the Peppermint Twist led to Tony Manero.

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