Paul Revere & The Raiders: From Batman To Manson

essential raiders mar15.jpg
With their bright Revolutionary War-style outfits, tri-cornered hats, and energetic antics, Paul Revere and the Raiders were certainly one of the most visual pop/garage rock bands of the 1960s. But beyond that aspect laid a tight, five-piece combo who notched up a string of hits ("Kicks," "Hungry," "Good Thing," "Just Like Me," "Him or Me - What's It Gonna Be"), and a No. 1 smash in 1971 with the socially conscious, pro-Native American "Indian Reservation."

Though the band was named for the keyboardist (actually born Paul Revere Dick!), it was lead singer/saxophonist Mark Lindsay, with his jocularity and teen-idol looks, who usually stood out. And while he left the band in 1975, their best material from 1963-72 is collected on the new double disc The Essential Paul Revere and the Raiders (out today).

Lindsay spoke to Rocks Off about the band's beginnings, supporting Burgess Meredith for political office, and coming face-to-face with one of the most notorious psychopaths of the past century.

Rocks Off: With a two-disc anthology, you get a better overview of the band's entire catalogue rather than just the hits.

Mark Lindsay: When we first signed with CBS - and we were the first rock group on the label - we had been together for three or four years. And our repertoire was a lot of R&B-based stuff. Then I started to write stuff like "Steppin' Out," which was our first hit. But it gives you an early look into the Raiders when we were playing a lot of dance halls in the northwest.

Mark today courtesy
Mark Lindsay today
RO: The second CD shows you branching into psychedelia, hard rock, and even country. Were you responding to pressure from what was happening in music at the time?

ML: The pressure was internal pressure from yours truly! (laughs). CBS pretty much left us alone as long as we were having chart hits. Terry Melcher was our first producer and then Jerry Fuller. They were both in tune with what was happening on the radio. And as music changed, I wanted to use what the Raiders had within them.

RO: The costumes certainly got you instant attention. But it also kept a lot of people from taking you seriously.

ML: It definitely got attention, especially when we got on Where the Action Is. Eventually, we made [more than 700] network TV appearances. It was a great gimmick. But it's also what's going to keep us out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

I mean, the first thing people think of with Paul Revere & the Raiders are these guys jumping around in these goofy suits, and they forget the music. If you could hear that without thinking of the lace dickeys hanging from our necks, you might take us a bit more seriously.

RO: These days, musicians will play concerts to support candidates on all sides of the political spectrum. But what possessed you to play at the "Penguin for Mayor" rally on Batman. What has the Penguin ever done for Gotham City?

ML: (laughs): Well, you see, they gave us the wrong political brief (laughs)! They spun the information, and we were just these green guys from the Northwest, and what did we know when we got to Gotham?

RO: Why was the Pacific Northwest such a breeding ground for garage rock bands? There was you, the Kingsmen, the Wailers, the Sonics...

ML: The Northwest was always a hotbed of music - first Seattle, then Portland. The garage-rock thing came out of groups like the Dynamics who were premiere R&B groups playing the horn charts and almost into jazz. And a lot of guys couldn't play that, so it evolved into a much rawer form of music. At least that's my theory!

RO: It was an interesting move to put out the anti-drug song "Kicks" when a lot of bands were celebrating the drug culture.

ML: I was so green, I thought the song was about how hard it was to have as good a time today as you did in the old days! I had no idea there was drug connotations, honestly. It wasn't until Time or Newsweek called me up to say that we were the first group to have a hit anti-drug song. And I said "Really?" I just thought it was a great pop song with great hooks!

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Funny that the Raiders released "Louie Louie" before the Kingsmen, but it was killed by Columbia Records music exec Mitch Miller, who thought rock was a passing fad.

The Raiders caught a lot of flak from people like David Crosby for the anti-drug message of "Kicks." Some radio stations even banned it thinking it was pro-drug use. I recently posted on my Rockaeology blog at that “Kicks,” written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, was first offered to the Animals but lead Eric Burdon turned it down. The Raiders made “Kicks” one of their biggest hits; it’s been called one of the best examples of the garage band sound.




So true. I wonder if it would have hurt their image like it somewhat hurt the Raiders.Interestingly enough, which you might know, the Raiders went out on the road and left word they wanted Mann and Weils' next song. Somehow word never got to the songwriters and while on the road they heard what they missed. Yep, it was the Animals again with We Gotta Get Out of this Place. And we all know how big that song became.

Bob Ruggiero
Bob Ruggiero

Ah yes, Mitch didn't care much for the rock and roll...but we have him to thank for the bouncing ball! That said I think that the Kingsmen's version is much gloriously dirtier than the Raiders' version, which is probably why it has become one of (if not the) Garage Rock Anthem of All Time.

Something Mark discussed that didn't make it into the article was how "Kicks" was written by Barry and Cynthia as a thinly-veiled jab/concern to fellow Brill Building writer Gerry Goffin (married to Carole King at the time), who was battling his own drug issues.

Bob Ruggiero
Bob Ruggiero

Wow, I had not heard that story! Still, it's Eric Burdon's very menacing and desperate reading of the lyric and the Animals' foreboding instrumentation that really make that tune soar. I don't know if the Raiders would have had the same take on it. But it would have been interesting to hear! By the way - Blue Oyster Cult also does a solid live version of that song.


I agree Bob. Paul started to do it in his live act years ago which led to his involvement with the Vietnam vets and the Stand down operations across the states. Paul and the band rode to D.C. on bikes one year for a tribute to the vets. I wish Mark would have done a version sometime but we'll have to guess on how that would have been. But you couldn't touch Eric's read indeed. I have seen the Cult's version and you are right.

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