This Day in ’67: The Young Rascals Play Central Park

Tuesday, July 5, 2016
This Day in ’67: The Young Rascals Play Central Park

49 years ago today, the Young Rascals headlined the 10th day of the summer-long Rheingold Central Park Music Festival, a concert series featuring a startling list of talent over the course of June, July, and August of 1967.

We won’t spotlight every single artist who graced the Rheingold Stage during those three months, but we’ll happily throw some names your way, if only to hear you gasp all the way from here at Rhino HQ. On Friday, June 23, the first day of the festival, Flip Wilson opened for Louis Armstrong, with Peter Nero headlining the evening of the 24th, and Stan Getz, Buddy Rich and his Orchestra, and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band all getting to shine during the course of the month. In advance of the Young Rascals’ appearance, the Four Tops and Nina Simone each had a headlining evening, and from there July brought…well, heck, here’s just a quick list for your reading enjoyment:

Phil Ochs Dave Brubeck Duke Ellington Stevie Wonder The Four Seasons Judy Collins…with opener Leonard Cohen! The New Christy Minstrels Mel Torme Smokey Robinson and the Miracles The Byds Pete Seeger

As for August, you could’ve seen – among many others – Neil Diamond, Ferrante & Teicher, John Lee Hooker, Theodore Bikel, The Ramsey Lewis Trio, Dionne Warwick, Jerry Butler, Lou Rawls, and to wrap up the whole shebang on August 27, Flatt & Scruggs with opener Doc Watson.

Alas, the set list for the Young Rascals’ performance at the Rheingold Central Park Music Festival has been lost to the ages, but it’s a fair bet that if you’d been there that day, you would’ve heard most, perhaps even all, of their Groovin’ album, which was released that year. And let’s face it, if you’re gonna be groovin’, Central Park is a damned fine place to be doing it.

Oh, right, we almost forgot: there were a couple of other artists on the bill that day, too. One was folk singer Len Chandler, whose debut album, To Be a Man, and his sophomore effort, The Lovin’ People, both came out in ’67. The other artist? A fella by the name of Jimi Hendrix.

And while no one seems to remember what the Young Rascals played, Hendrix’s set list has been documented. While that might seem like a little unfair to Felix Cavaliere and the gang, hey, it was only four songs, and the four songs in question were “Purple Haze,” “Hey Joe,” “Like a Rolling Stone,” and “Wild Thing.” No matter how much you might love the Young Rascals, you have to admit: Hendrix’s set was one for the ages.