17 April 1983 – Felix Pappalardi (MOUNTAIN) was born December 30th 1939 in the Bronx, New York City. After High School he moved to Michigan where he studied classical music at the University of Michigan. After graduating he moved back to New York but could not find a job as a conductor and soon fell into the folk scene of Greenwich Village. During the 1960s as a music producer he helped to further the careers of musicans from Tim Hardin, The Youngbloods, Joan Baez, to Richard and Mimi Farina.
In 1964 he joined 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, 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.
As a producer, Pappalardi became perhaps best known for his work with British psychedelic blues-rock power trio 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. He contributed instrumentation for his imaginative studio arrangements and he and his wife, Gail, wrote the Cream hit “Strange Brew” with Eric Clapton.
In 1968 he produced a band named, ‘The Vagrants’ who recorded on the Atlantic Record Label, and which featured a young guitarist named Leslie West. In 1969 along with West, Corky Laing, Mark Clarke, Steve Knight, David Perry, and N.D. Smart II, he founded the hard charging blues-rock group, ‘Mountain.‘ The group was formed in Long Island, New York, and disbanded in 1972. They got back together in 1974, but disbanded again in 1975. One of there first big gigs was playing at the Woodstock Music Festival in Saugerties, New York, in August 1969. There songs include, “My Lady” “Don’t Look Around” “The Great Train Robbery” “Travelin” “In The Dark” “The Animal Trainer And The Toad” “Mississippi Queen” “For Yasgur’s Farm” “Boys In The Band” “Laird” “Silver Paper” “King’s Corale I” “One Last Cold Kiss” “Crossroader” and “Dream Sequence: Guitar Solo/Roll Over.
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. Felix produced the band’s albums, and co-wrote, and arranged a number of the band’s songs with his wife Gail Collins and Leslie 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.
Felix 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.
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 Kazuo Takeda’s band The Creation (old name Blues Creation).
On April 17, 1983, Felix Pappalardi was shot once in the neck in their fifth-floor East Side Manhattan apartment. He was pronounced dead at the scene and his wife Gail was charged with second degree murder. Collins Pappalardi claimed that the killing was an accident. She was acquitted of second degree murder and manslaughter, but found guilty of criminally negligent homicide. On April 30, 1985, she was released on parole and disappeared to Mexico.
Felix Pappalardi was 43 when he died on April 17, 1983.
On December 6, 2013, Collins was found dead by her landlord in the Mexican village of Ajijic, Jalisco, a resort town with many American expatriate residents. She had been undergoing cancer treatments there. She was cremated with her three cats.
The Pappalardi’s became known for their non-musical proclivities, which included the usual chemical experiments as well as an open marriage. However her jealousy of one particular mistress reportedly led to the argument that ended in his death, although Collins maintained that she’d shot Pappalardi accidentally while taking a firearms training session. The fact that it happened at 6:00AM didn’t dissuade jurors from handing in a surprising verdict, convicting her of criminally negligent homicide rather than murder.
The judge in the case seemed annoyed by the verdict, making a point of reminding jurors, “She called her attorney instead of calling for help — she was concerned with her own well-being,” and giving her the maximum sentence under the law. Paroled in 1985 after serving half of her four-year sentence, Collins disappeared from sight, but judging from the quotes given by her acquaintances to the New York Daily News, she remained just as provocative a personality after exiting the spotlight.
“She was one of the most brilliant people I have ever known, but she was also an opinionated jackass. She just needed to be the star,” said one woman described as Collins’ friend. Added her neighbor, “She left instructions for her cats to be euthanized so their ashes could be mixed with hers. Who does that?”