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Felix Pappalardi

Background information
Birth name Felix A. Pappalardi Jr.
Born December 30, 1939(1939-12-30)
Origin United States
Died April 17, 1983 (aged 43)
Genres Rock
Occupations Music producer, songwriter, vocalist, bass guitarist
Instruments Bass guitar
Years active 1963–1982
Associated acts Cream, Mountain
Notable instruments
Gibson EB-1 violin bass

Felix A. Pappalardi Jr. (December 30, 1939 – April 17, 1983) was an American music producer, songwriter, vocalist, and bass guitarist.


Early Life

Pappalardi was born in the Bronx, NY. A classically trained musician, he attended the University of Michigan.[1]


As a producer, Pappalardi is perhaps best-known for his work with British psychedelic blues-rock power trio Cream, beginning with their second album, Disraeli Gears. 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 signature song, "Mississippi Queen" is still heard regularly on classic rock radio stations.

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 famous musicians. Along with Felix on guitarrón (Mexican acoustic bass) were pianist/singer Morath, the man who revived classic ragtime played in the Scott Joplin manner, Barry Kornfeld, a well-known NYC studio folk and jazz guitarist, and Jim Tyler, a famous 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. However, it was Pappalardi's late-1960s work with Cream that established his reputation. He contributed instrumentation for his imaginative studio arrangements and he and his wife, Gail, wrote the Cream hit "Strange Brew" with Eric Clapton.

Later life and death

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 and released a solo album and recorded with Japanese hard rock outfit Blues Creation.

Pappalardi was shot and killed by his wife, Gail Collins Pappalardi, on April 17, 1983 in their East Side Manhattan apartment. Gail was subsequently charged with second-degree murder. She claimed it was an accident, and was found guilty of the lesser criminally negligent homicide and sentenced to 16 months to 4 years in prison and was released on parole in April 1985. He is interred next to his mother at Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, New York. Gail Collins, as of 2009, is alive and living quietly in Mexico. She continues to maintain that the shooting was an accident.

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.

Selected discography

For his work with Mountain, see their page.


As producer

Other appearances and contributions

  • 1963: Vince Martin and Fred Neil - Tear Down the Walls - guitarrón and backing vocals
  • 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
  • 1967: Devil's Anvil - Hard Rock From the Middle East - bass, guitar, tambura , percussion and vocals, credited as "arranger and musical director"
  • 1967: Jackie Washington - 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')"
  • 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"


  1. ^ The Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars: Heroin, Handguns, and Ham Sandwiches By Jeremy Simmonds (C) 2006

External links


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