PAUL REVERE (and the Raiders)
Born Paul Revere Dick, 7 January 1938, Harvard, Nebraska
One of the most popular American rock groups of the 1960s, Paul Revere and the Raiders enjoyed seven years of serious chart action (1965-1972). However, they started out in the early 1960s as an instrumental rock & roll group and a very good one at that. This article will concentrate on that early period, when they did not yet perform in Revolutionary War costumes and tri-cornered hats.
Paul Revere Dick, the youngest of five children, was born in Harvard, Nebraska, and raised on a farm near Boise, Idaho. He taught himself to play piano by listening to rhythm and blues and boogie woogie on the family radio. An enterprising young man, Revere became a master barber at the age of 17 and owned three barber shops and his own drive-in restaurant by age 19. Inspired by Jerry Lee Lewis, Revere formed a rock and roll band in 1958, which played at local teen dances. An important addition to the band came in the form of a delivery boy, saxophonist/vocalist Mark Lindsay (born March 9, 1942, in Eugene, Oregon). He ended up replacing the band’s lead singer. Originally called the Downbeats, the group made their first (instrumental) recording, a rocked-up version of Chopsticks” entitled “Beatnick Sticks”, at KGEM radio station in Boise, Idaho, in 1960. The line-up at this time was : Paul Revere (piano), Mark Lindsay (sax, vocals), Bill Hibbard (bass), the brothers Richard and Robert White (guitars) and Jerry Labrum (drums).
Revere then travelled to L.A. with his tape, knocking on the door of every record company listed in the phone book. Finally, John Guss, impressed by the young man’s commitment and intrigued by his strange name, signed the group to his Gardena label (located in Gardena, California). Guss didn’t like their name, however. Because Revere’s name was such a natural gimmick, he suggested they call themselves Paul Revere and the Midnight Riders, but Revere and company thought that sounded too much like a country band. They decided to go with Paul Revere and the Raiders and that’s the name they used on their first release. “Beatnick Sticks” and “Orbit” (a proto-surf guitar instrumental) came out in July 1960 as Gardena 106. I heard it on the Dutch pirate station Radio Veronica (the single got a surprise release in Holland on Top Rank HTR 606) and ranked it at # 8 in my personal Top 10 of November 1960.
The second single, “Paul Revere’s Ride”/“Unfinished Fifth” (Gardena 115, October 1960) went unnoticed, but the third one would establish the group’s name. Released in December 1960, “Like Long Hair” entered the Billboard charts at the end of March 1961 and peaked at # 38 (# 30 in Cash Box). The title of the rocking instrumental did not refer to hippie hair styles, but to classical “long hair” music. The opening bars had Revere pounding out some serious concerto-like chords, based on Rachmaninoff’s C Sharp Minor Prelude, that quickly morphed into a rocking boogie woogie beat, in a style similar to B. Bumble and the Stingers. This was not surprising, since Kim Fowley produced both the Raiders and the Stingers. Gary Paxton (of “Alley-Oop” fame) arranged the Raiders’ Gardena singles and received a label credit in three cases. The B-side of “Like Long Hair”, “Sharon”, featured a vocal by Mark Lindsay (as did the subsequent B-side, “Midnite Ride”, on the reverse of “Like Charleston”). By this time the group had relocated to Portland, Oregon. Then Revere received his draft notice. He avoided military service by declaring himself a conscientious objector and served as a cook in a psychiatric hospital. Meanwhile, Mark Lindsay took the group on tour with Leon Russell filling in on piano. Four more Gardena singles were issued between December 1961 and April 1963, but without chart success.
Gardena issued a 12-track all-instrumental LP called “Like Long Hair” in March 1962. The album was reissued in 1987 (with the same catalogue number, Gardena LP-G 1000) under the title “Rock & Roll With Paul Revere and the Raiders”, with four extra tracks, including the two vocal numbers, “Sharon” and “Midnite Ride”. According to the sleeve, this is a “Collectors item, limited edition of 500”, but I have seen the LP too often (in Holland alone) to take that claim very seriously.
By the summer of 1962 Revere and Lindsay were working with a new group of Raiders, with Revere playing organ most of the time instead of piano. Switching to a “garage” rock style, they were signed by Columbia in 1963, where their first release was “Louie Louie” (leased from the Sandé label), but their version was outsold by that of the Kingsmen. They had to wait until the autumn of 1965 for their second chart entry (after “Like Long Hair”), which was called “Steppin’ Out” (# 46). It would be the first of 23 hits on Columbia, including “Kicks” (# 4), “Hungry” (# 6), “Him Or Me - What’s It Gonna Be” (# 5) and the number one hit “Indian Reservation” (1971), written by John D. Loudermilk. After the hits dried up in 1973, Revere and Lindsay continued on the oldies circuit with a flexible line-up of Raiders.
In 2010 Paul Revere and the Raiders were inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame. Revere announced his retirement from the band in August 2014 and died of cancer two months later. The group continues to tour as “Paul Revere’s Raiders”.
More info :
Discography : http://www.45cat.com/artist/paul-revere-and-the-raiders
CD : “Like, Long Hair” (Harkit HRKCD 8103, UK, 2005). Reissue of the 16-track Gardena LP from 1987 plus two extra tracks, an alternate take of “Sharon” and “Paul Revere interviews the Raiders”.
Acknowledgements : Steve Otfinoski, Bruce Eder, Wikipedia, anonymous liner notes for the Gardena LP.
YouTube (Gardena only) :
Dik, February 2016
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