Paul Revere, Rock’n’Roll Rebel

It was 1775 and Paul Revere rode his horse yelling “The British are coming!” In the 1960’s another Paul Revere noticed that the British Invasion was starting all over again. He rode the charts and was successful while many bands collapsed during the invasion.

The band was discovered by jock Roger Hart of Portland’s KISN. In 1962 they had just experienced breakout success thanks to their regional hit “Louie Louie”. We flew them in to Vancouver to entertain at the annual C-FUN Night at Kitsilano Showboat, an outdoor theatre that has showcased local and international talent for over eighty years. That night the streets were so choked with traffic we had to bring the band onto the beach by barge. Paul never forgot that incident.

Paul Revere & The Raiders were the first rock group signed to Columbia Records. Their first national hit was “Steppin’ Out” in September 1965. Lead singer Mark Lindsay and the Raiders brought about some of America’s hardest Rock to be heard in a decade.The visual effect of the group was enhanced by their American revolutionary war uniforms. TV exposure was helpful in pushing their image across to the young. Dick Clark‘s TV show “Where The Action Is!” gave them the added advantage. For the next six years they forged ahead with some very strong material: “Kicks”, “Hungry”, “Good Thing”, Him or Me – What’s It Gonna Be?” and their biggest hit, their cover of John D. Loudermilk’s “Indian Reservation”, in 1971.

In August 1986, Paul Revere & The Raiders appeared at the Legends of Rock’n’Roll show at EXPO 86 in Vancouver with fellow Northwest music favourites The Ventures and Merrilee Rush. That’s where we sat down to record this interview.

Ace photographer Steven Pesant captured Paul performing in this outstanding image. Thanks, Steve!

I also saw Paul in 2010, when I took a busload of listeners to Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater in Branson, Missouri. Ever gracious, Paul invited the whole group backstage for autographs and photos. Paul’s last appearance in Vancouver was in March 2013 at the Red Robinson Show Theatre, where he signed the celebrity wall downstairs. He had previously appeared with Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers during the theatre’s grand opening in 2008.

My last encounter with Paul came during a 2013 trip on the Where the Action Is! Rock & Roll Cruise, a Caribbean travel excursion organized by Concerts At Sea. He performed well but struggled noticeably here and there; his manager later disclosed to me the sad news that he had brain cancer. Paul was an unforgettable character, always having fun onstage and off. He died October 15, 2014 at his home in Idaho.

One glaring omission in this story: Paul Revere & The Raiders have yet to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame despite scoring seven chart hits between 1965 and 1967. Paul Revere & The Raiders sold nearly 50 million records over the course of their career. They had 15 consecutive hit singles, 6 of which were top 10, four The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified gold albums, one gold single (“Let Me”) and one platinum single (“Indian Reservation”).

Paul Revere & The Raiders appeared on over 500 episodes of ABC‘s Where the Action Is. They hosted It’s Happening, Happening ’68 and Happening 69, also on ABC. They appeared on many other TV shows including Ed Sullivan, The Smothers Brothers, Hollywood Palace, and as themselves in a Batman episode “Hizzonner the Penguin”, making Paul Revere & The Raiders the most televised musical group in the world. Three Raiders songs were included in Quentin Tarantino Director‘s blockbuster movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

According to the RRHF, “Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Criteria include the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll.”

Let’s hope they recognize the contribution Paul Revere & The Raiders with Mark Lindsay made, and soon!