In 1775, one Paul Revere, a Massachusetts silversmith by trade, road around the countryside announcing that the British were coming.
Nearly 200 years later, the British had come again and another Paul Revere — this one an Idaho keyboardist and bandleader — held the ground for American rock ‘n’ roll with his band, the Raiders.
During the mid-’60s, the man born Paul Revere Dick — who died Saturday at his home in Caldwell, Idaho, from a long illness at the age of 76 — and his group, replete in 18th century military uniforms and tricorne hats, provided a musical beachhead amidst pop’s British Invasion. The band reeled off a string of hits starting with a version of “Louie Louie” in 1963 (recorded at the same Portland, Ore., studio where the Kingsmen tracked theirs) and a clever answer track called “Louie Go Home,” and continuing with “Just Like Me,” the anti-drug anthem “Kicks,” “Hungry,” “Good Thing” and “Him Or Me, What’s It Gonna Be” — songs that blended Mersey melodicism with Nuggets-style garage energy and R&B swing that would influence many successors in subsequent decades.
Revere also gleefully labeled himself “the Madman of Rock & Roll,” playing the part until this past summer when he announced a retirement, possibly temporary, from the road due to health concerns even after he declared 2014 “a great year for the band so far.” Revere continued that, “Even though I’ve had some health issues, nothing can stop the old man. I’m like the Energizer Bunny! I jump on my tour bus and go from city to city, packing a trunk full of great Raider songs, tight pants and bad jokes — all against doctor’s orders, by the way! I’ve been the worst patient these guys have ever seen, and they’ve been on me to take a break all year.” Some of that “break,” however, was spent recording two new songs that Revere wrote were due out this fall, though he ultimately decided to send the current incarnation of the group, which includes his son Jamie Revere, on the road without him as Paul Revere’s Raiders.
Revere had boasted in a 2013 posting that he had previously beaten “2 types of cancer” and rotator cuff surgery, as well as a hysterectomy — the latter of which we assume he was, characteristically, joking about.
Mark Lindsay, the Raiders’ frontman from 1958-75, posted a Facebook message Sunday saying that, “We all know that Paul had been very ill for a while, and you always hope for the best — a miracle, maybe. But it just wasn’t to be this time. It is still surreal to think that he is gone…In 1958, Revere and I got together in Idaho, and it clicked. We had a great run, and for a real long stretch, it was magic. All good things seem to come to an end, though, and eventually Revere and I drifted apart and went our separate ways. But I want to remember the good times, when he was my best friend and we were partners, and the world was ours for a while. Right now I would like to think he’s playing wild boogie-woogie on that big golden upright in the sky. Play on, brother, see you down the road.”
Raiders bassist Phil “Fang” Volk added that, “My heart is broken…He was a dear friend of mine…He was a good man with a great big heart, and he dedicated his life to his band for the past five decades…He was an original, ‘the genuine article’ — one of a kind — and his accomplishments need to be touted and celebrated.”
Revere and Lindsay met when Revere was a restaurateur in Boise and Lindsay was working for a bakery that provided hamburger buns, an occasion immortalized in their 1967 single “Legend of Paul Revere.” Their original band was called the Downbeats and was then changed to Paul Revere & the Raiders. The group relocated to Oregon and released the instrumental “Like, Long Hair” in 1961, reaching No. 38 on the Billboard charts. While Revere avoided military service by declaring himself a conscientious objector and cooking in a psychiatric hospital, Lindsay took the group on tour with Leon Russell filling in. The group became a full-time concern in 1962 and recorded “Louie Louie” at the behest of radio DJ Roger Hart, who became the band’s manager.
“The Kingsmen were the biggest thing in the Northwest,” Lindsay once recalled, “so I went to their gig to find out what was going on. They played ‘Louie Louie’ three times. I said, ‘We gotta learn ‘Louie Louie’…”
Moving further down the coast to California, the group really caught fire with producer Terry Melcher, who produced its classic run of mid-’60s singles. The Raiders were also bolstered by appearances on Dick Clark’s ABC program Where The Action Is, where it spiced its performances with comedic routines and high-spirited choreography. The group also appeared on the Batman TV series, hosted Clark’s Happening ’68/Happening series and reeled off three consecutive gold albums during 1966 — one of which, Midnight Ride, contained the original version of “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” later turned into a hit by the Monkees.
Things slowed down at the turn of the decade, however, as the group struggled to stay relevant, briefly changed its name to the Raiders and going through several lineup changes. The Raiders scored its only No. 1 hit with “Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)” — originally intended as a Lindsay solo single — and found some success in the country market, but it ultimately settled into the oldies realm though its music was kept alive via covers by Pat Benatar, Joan Jett, the Flaming Groovies and more. The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork even recorded a version of “Kicks” for the 1986 compilation Then & Now…The Best of the Monkees.
Revere and the Raiders were inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame in 2007 and into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2010.
The thrice-married Revere wrote in July that, “It breaks my heart to have to stay home while the band goes out without me to our next block of dates. You don’t even know how much it kills me. But the truth is, The Raiders kick major butt with or without me…High energy and fun is what a Paul Revere and The Raiders show is all about, and that’s always the same, no matter which one of us shows up in a body cast. So come out and see my boys, and tell them how much you miss me.”
That will surely be happening from now on.