Born in 1944, in Ottawa, Canada, Cornish came into the world with music in his blood. His mother, Ada, was a singer for Big Bands, including those led by Woody Herman and Ozzie Nelson.

Gene and his mother moved to Rochester, NY when he was a young boy. She married Ted Cornish, a successful bait & sporting goods store owner. When he started playing music in junior high, Gene adopted his step-father’s name.
Once it was clear Gene wanted to make music for a living, his parents never
wavered in their support and belief.

Gene Cornish

By 1959, he was 15 and had earned a reputation as a talented guitarist. By then, he was fronting his own band, Gene Cornish & The Satelites, with boyhood friend, Pat Proietti. While attending Ben Franklin High School, he started a vocal group called The Nobles, and eventually put out a few records under his own name.

In 1964, he moved to New York City and was doing double duty in Joey Dee & The Starliters, (who had hit the top of the charts a few years earlier with “The Peppermint Twist,”) and his own group, The Unbeatables. The Unbeatables had a novelty hit with a Cornish song called “I Wanna Be A Beatle.” but lasted only a year.

It was in the Starliters that Cornish met singer and keyboard player Felix Cavaliere, and singer Eddie Brigati. All three left to form The Young Rascals with drummer Dino Danelli. After a short few months playing the NY club scene, the explosive R&B flavored rock band was signed by Atlantic Records.

The band was merely a few months old before critics and fans alike, started to recognize The Rascals. They soon became known as one of the best live bands in America.

Before 1965 was over, the group would start releasing a string of hit songs that would continue for six years….
“Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore;”
“Good Lovin’”
“You Better Run”
“I’ve Been Lonely To Long,”
“How Can I Be Sure,”
“A Girl Like You,”
“ It’s Beautiful Morning.”

and the hopeful anthem., “People Gotta Be Free,” which
was written in reaction to the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. The song obtained a double meaning when Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated before the single was released. It went straight to the #1 position, where it stayed for an astounding five weeks.