Saturday, October 4, 2014

Paul Revere's Last Ride (Update by Mark Lindsay)

If anybody loved rock and roll for the pure fun of playing it, then Paul Revere lived a charmed and happy life.  For many years he was the keyboard player of one of the most underrated bands of the 60s The Raiders and with Mark Lindsay they churned out hit after hit after hit after hit.  Even though their hit making years were well beyond him, he continued to lead a new batch of Raiders, some who have been in the band for over 30 years, to rock state fairs and casinos all across this fair land.  Generous to a fault, he always had time to chat with fans and was more than happy to pose for pictures and sign autographs.  It's a shame that I never met him in person although the Raiders had played in the neighborhood the last decade or so.  But health issues forced him off touring and a few months after doing so, he passed away at age 76 Saturday from cancer.

If you grew up in the 60s, you got to see Paul Revere and The Raiders on Where The Action Is, a late 60s afternoon show that I recall seeing from time to time.  Their wild antics and dressing up in British uniforms was the stuff of legends.  It's a shame that The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame(TM-FU) never thought of them to be inducted but in the Crabb/Record World Hall Of Fame, there's a special place for them.  Even with Lindsay's attempt to make them more of a pop band, the live Raiders showed them to be pure rock and roll.  Revere's drive and humor would figure greatly, even to a point last year of challenging Jack White's comment that even 75 year old rockers can still kick their ass.  But while the spirit was willing, the body wasn't and even when Paul wasn't feeling all that well, he did go out on stage, to make the people happy.  And although they might have been a nostalgic act, the new Raiders still rocked. Doug Heath and Mike Foos were 35 year veterans of his band and continue on in November.

But I'm sure up above, Paul will be smiling.  RIP

Mark Lindsay's tribute.

 I first met Revere in ’58 when I was 16. I thought he was the coolest guy in the world. Not only did he have his own hamburger stand, but he also played in the Red Hughes Band, a local Caldwell rock and roll group.

Rock and roll was my passion, even though I was a rockabilly singer in a country band at the time. Through a complicated set of circumstances, the guys in Red’s band quit, and formed a new band with me as the singer.

Revere, who was 20, became my best friend. I didn’t get along with my father at the time and Revere became both a father figure and the big brother I never had.

We began having sellout crowds in the Boise Valley area, and when The Wailers, a Seattle band, had a hit with “Tall Cool One,” we decided that if a Northwest band could make a hit record, why couldn’t we?

Revere booked a Boise recording studio, we cut some demos (under the name The Downbeats), and he drove to California in his ’58 T-Bird – where he got us a deal on a small label, Gardena Records.

When we signed the recording contract, the owner of the company found out that Revere’s full name was Paul Revere Dick. He suggested a change to the band’s name, and our first records were eventually released under the name Paul Revere & the Raiders. Revere hated it at first, having been teased a lot in school about his first and middle name, but the name was novel and caught on.

Revere then left Idaho to do his time for Uncle Sam, and I went to L.A., doing a brief tour as Paul Revere’s Raiders (Leon Russell filling in on piano) in support of our first hit, “Like Long Hair.”

After a brief hiatus, we re-formed the band in Portland. Revere and I became partners, hired some new Raiders, and met a hot local deejay named Roger Hart who helped us cut “Louie, Louie.” That got us a deal with Columbia Records.

When we (and many others) opened for the Stones in Southern California, we got noticed by Dick Clark and were signed to his new TV show, “Where The Action Is.” We hit the ground running and didn’t stop for almost a decade. We eventually became so busy on the road -- 250 nights a year --  that Revere (who was handling the booking) turned the music over to me and concentrated on the business.

It was a great partnership, and for most of the 60s and part of the 70s, we rode the whirlwind as hard as we could. And we had a great ride. The years I spent with Revere are some of the best years of my life. But nothing lasts forever, and eventually we drifted apart and went our separate ways.

The band broke up for a few years, and then Revere did something miraculous. He had always loved Danny Kay, Victor Borge, and the Marx Brothers, and when Rip Taylor came on “Happening,” Revere watched him like a hawk. Revere took his talent for comedy and resurrected the Raiders. This new incarnation became a 3-ring circus with Revere as ringmaster/comedian, with the band supplying the sound track.

And he always had a great band. Some of the guys he had then were still with him when he left the road this past summer. I personally worked with Doug, Ron, Danny, and Omar, and know from first-hand experience that they are all excellent musicians. I don’t know Tommy, the new drummer, but I know his reputation and he’s great. I haven’t “played” with Jamie since he was 3 or so and riding a trike when I visited Revere in Idaho, but his guitar works well with the rest of the guys.

When people would ask what I thought of the contemporary Raiders’ act, I would say, “It’s like Rip Taylor with a rock and roll band.” I know Revere would have taken that as a compliment, knowing how much he respected Rip.

Revere and I got together in Portland a few years ago and talked about doing something together again. But I guess it just wasn’t in the cards and time ran out on us.

I wasn’t able to talk to Revere this past year, but last week, Roger Hart said he spoke with Sydney and that a brief text might work…so I sent one to him in Idaho from Florida last Saturday. As fate would have it, I sent it just before he passed, so I don’t know if he saw it or not. I’m putting a copy here, so that if he manages to take a break from that golden keyboard and peers over a cloud, maybe he can read it now. It had to be short, so I simply said what's below...

And I still think so. 

So long old friend, see you down the road.


No comments: