Felix A. Pappalardi Jr. (December 30, 1939 – April 17, 1983) was an American music producer, songwriter, vocalist, and bassist. He is best known to the public as the bassist and vocalist of the band Mountain, whose song "Mississippi Queen" peaked at #21 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has become a classic rock radio staple. Originating in the eclectic music scene in New York's Greenwich Village, he became closely attached to the British power trio Cream, writing, arranging, and producing for their second album Disraeli Gears. As a producer for Atlantic Records, he worked on several projects with guitarist Leslie West; in 1969 their partnership evolved into the band Mountain. The band lasted less than five years, but their work influenced the first generation of heavy metal and hard rock music. Pappalardi continued to work as a producer, session musician, and songwriter until he was shot and killed by his wife Gail Collins in 1983.

Felix Pappalardi
FelixPappalardi.jpg
Background information
Birth nameFelix A. Pappalardi Jr.
Born(1939-12-30)December 30, 1939
Bronx, New York
OriginNew York City
DiedApril 17, 1983(1983-04-17) (aged 43)
Manhattan, New York
GenresRock, blues rock, hard rock
Occupation(s)Music producer, songwriter, musician
Instruments
Years active1960s-1983
Associated actsThe Youngbloods, Cream, Mountain

Early lifeEdit

Pappalardi was born in The Bronx, New York City. A classically trained musician, he graduated from New York City's The High School of Music & Art and attended the University of Michigan.[1]

CareerEdit

In 1964 Pappalardi was a member of Max Morath's Original Rag Quartet (ORQ) in their premier engagement at New York's Village Vanguard with several other musicians. Along with Pappalardi on guitarrón (Mexican acoustic bass) were pianist-singer Morath, who revived classic ragtime played in the Scott Joplin manner, Barry Kornfeld, a NYC studio folk and jazz guitarist, and Jim Tyler, a Baroque and Renaissance lutenist playing four-string banjo and mandolin. The ORQ then toured the college and concert circuit during the following year, and opened four engagements with the Dinah Shore show in Las Vegas and elsewhere. Pappalardi studied classical music at the University of Michigan. Upon completing his studies and returning to New York, he was unable to find work and so became part of the Greenwich Village folk-music scene where he made a name for himself as a skilled arranger; he also appeared on Tom Paxton as well as Vince Martin and Fred Neil albums for Elektra Records. From there he moved into record production, initially concentrating on folk and folk-rock acts for artists such as The Youngbloods and Joan Baez.

As a producer, Pappalardi is perhaps best known for his work with Cream, beginning with their second album, Disraeli Gears. Pappalardi has been referred to in various interviews with the members of Cream as "the fourth member of the band" as he generally had a role in arranging their music.[citation needed] He contributed instrumentation for his studio arrangements and he and his wife, Gail Collins, wrote the Cream hit "Strange Brew" with Eric Clapton. He also produced The Youngbloods' first album.

As a musician, Pappalardi is widely recognized as a bassist, vocalist, and founding member of the American hard rock band-heavy metal forerunner Mountain, a band born out of his working with future bandmate Leslie West's soul-inspired rock and roll band The Vagrants, and producing West's 1969 Mountain solo album. The band's original incarnation actively recorded and toured between 1969 and 1971. Pappalardi produced the band's albums, and co-wrote and arranged a number of the band's songs with Collins and West.

The band's signature song "Mississippi Queen" is still heard regularly on classic rock radio stations. They also had a hit with the song "Nantucket Sleighride" written by Pappalardi and Collins.

Pappalardi generally played Gibson basses live and on Mountain's recordings. He is most often shown with an EB-1 but there are photographs of him playing an EB-0 live. He was known for playing a Gibson EB-1 violin bass through a set of Sunn amplifiers that, he claimed, once belonged to Jimi Hendrix.[citation needed]

Later life and deathEdit

 
The grave of Felix Pappalardi in Woodlawn Cemetery

Pappalardi was forced to retire because of partial deafness, ostensibly from his high-volume shows with Mountain. He continued producing throughout the 1970s, released a solo album (Don't Worry, Ma) and recorded with Kazuo Takeda's band Creation (who had opened for a reunited Mountain during their 1973 tour of Japan).

In May 1973, the British music magazine NME reported that Pappalardi would be producing and playing bass on Queen of the Night, the debut album for Maggie Bell, former singer of Stone the Crows,[2] but this proved to be a false rumor.[3]

He also worked on the NBC show Hot Hero Sandwich in 1979.

Pappalardi was shot and killed by his wife, Gail, on April 17, 1983, in their East Side Manhattan apartment, with a derringer he had given her as a gift a few months previously. Gail Pappalardi was subsequently charged with second-degree murder and was found guilty of the lesser criminally negligent homicide.[4]

He is interred next to his mother at Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York City.[5]

Selected discographyEdit

For his work with Mountain, see their page.

As producerEdit

Other appearances and contributionsEdit

  • 1963: Vince Martin and Fred Neil - Tear Down the Walls - guitarrón and backing vocals
  • 1964: Tom Paxton - Ramblin' Boy - guitarrón
  • 1965: Tom Paxton - Ain't That News! - guitarrón
  • 1966: Buffy Sainte-Marie - Little Wheel Spin and Spin - credited as "instrumental ensemble arranger and conductor" on "Timeless Love"
  • 1966: Ian and Sylvia - Play One More - bass
  • 1966: Ian and Sylvia - The French Girl - credited as "arr. and conducted"
  • 1966: Ian and Sylvia - When I Was A Cowboy - bass
  • 1966: Ian and Sylvia - Short Grass - bass
  • 1966: Ian and Sylvia - Lonely Girls - bass
  • 1967: Devil's Anvil - Hard Rock From the Middle East - bass, guitar, tambura, percussion and vocals, credited as "arranger and musical director"
  • 1967: Richie Havens - Morning, Morning - credited as "arranger'
  • 1967: Jackie Washington [Landrón] - Morning Song - credited as "backup ensemble conductor'
  • 1968: Bo Grumpus - Before the War - keyboards, trumpet, bass, guitar, percussion, ocarina
  • 1968: Kensington Market - Avenue Road - vocals on "Aunt Violet's Knee"
  • 1969: Kensington Market - Aardvark - bass, piano, trumpet, organ
  • 1969: Jolliver Arkansaw - Home - keyboards, guitar, ocarina and bass on "Hatred Sun"
  • 1970: Ian and Sylvia - Greatest Hits - bass
  • 1970: Fred Neil - Little Bit of Rain - bass
  • 1971: John Sebastian - The Four of Us - bass on "Apple Hill"
  • 1971: Richard & Mimi Fariña - The Best of Richard & Mimi Fariña - bass
  • 1973: Bedlam - Bedlam - keyboards, credited as songwriter on "Looking Through Love's Eyes (Busy Dreamin')"
  • 1973: Eddie Mottau - No Turning Around - Mellatron, organ, ocarina and trumpet on "Circus Tent" and "Waitin' Out The Winter"
  • 1975: The Flock - Inside Out - backing vocals on "Straight Home"
  • 1977: Jesse Colin Young - Love on the Wing - backing vocals and string arrangements on "Drift Away" and "Fool", horn arrangements on "Louisiana Highway"
  • 1981: Kicks - "Kicks featuring Marge Raymond" - backing vocals on "Raceway" and "All Over Again" along with Steven Tyler

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ The Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars: Heroin, Handguns, and Ham Sandwiches By Jeremy Simmonds (C)2006
  2. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 250. CN 5585.
  3. ^ "AllMusic ((( Queen of the Night > Credits )))".
  4. ^ TeamRock.com, http://teamrock.com/feature/2014-04-17/felix-pappalardi-meets-a-tragic-end, 17 Apr 2014. Retrieved 24 Nov 2017.
  5. ^ Louder