The leader of one of the most colorful bands in rock history was born Revere Dick on January 7, 1938 in Harvard, Nebraska, and grew up in Boise, Idaho. His high school buddies, the leather clad, biker crowd, called him "River". After graduation, Revere went barber college, opened his own shop and eventually started a drive-in restaurant, the Reed 'n' Bell, in Caldwell, Idaho. In his spare time, he played keyboards in local bands. One night, a sixteen year old lad named Mark Lindsay asked if he could sing on stage with the band, where he impressed the others enough to land a permanent spot in the group. By 1959 they had evolved into The Downbeats, a name taken from the jazz magazine, and played local high school dances and sock hops.
In late 1960, Revere took his band to a small recording studio in the area, where they cut a half dozen tracks and began shopping them around. In early 1961, he landed at the Gardena Records pressing plant of John Guss, who not only agreed to cut a record from Revere's tape, but suggested a name change to Paul Revere and the Nightriders. Revere rejected the name, but later settled on Paul Revere and the Raiders, which was the name that appeared on the group's first single, a boogie woogie version of Chopsticks called "Beatnik Sticks". The song was mostly ignored by local radio stations as was a follow-up "Paul Revere's Ride", but their third effort, an instrumental called "Like Long Hair" caught on. The single entered the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1961, eventually reaching number 38 and landed the group their first appearance on Dick Clark's American Bandstand.
It seem like things were looking up for The Raiders, but before they could issue another record, Revere was drafted. The group continued for a while as Paul Revere's Raiders with a young Leon Russell on piano, but without Revere's leadership, the band dissolved and Mark Lindsay left to try his hand at a solo career in California. Because of his family's Mennonite religion, Revere was eventually granted Conscientious Objector status and was able to complete his military service as a cook at a mental institution in Wilsonville, Oregon.
By 1962, Revere and Lindsay re-formed the band and although a series of guitarists came and went, long serving drummer Mike Smith now came on board. Returning to the local dance scene, the band quickly became known for their crazy antics on stage and rose to one of the most popular bands in the North-western United States. The group continued to record, but it wasn't until they went to Northwest Recorders in Portland and cut a song called "Louie Louie" that they made anything noteworthy. In a fascinating bit of trivia, The Raiders recorded their version of the song a week before The Kingsmen did theirs in the same studio.
The Raiders single was released on April 25, 1963, and although it had a fuller, more hard driving sound, the record buying public preferred the Kingsmen's version and sent it to number two by the following November. The Raiders' single however, came to the attention of Ken Bolster, the local Columbia Records representative, and they were signed to the label.
It was around this time that Paul, Mark and Smitty were walking by a costume shop and saw some revolutionary war uniforms in the window. To add to their already zany stage act, they rented the coats and wore them during the second half of that night's show. They went over so well that, after renting them a few more times, Paul had some outfits made for the band.
Near the end of the summer of '63, guitarist Drake Levin and bassist Mike "Doc" Holiday joined The Raiders and the band recorded a follow up to "Louie, Louie" called "Louie - Go Home", which only enjoyed regional success as did their third Columbia single "Over You".
Columbia Records had now assigned staff producer Terry Melcher to handle the Raiders' recordings. Melcher was a recording star in his own right with his partner Bruce Johnston, turning out surf hits under the names of the Ripchords and Bruce and Terry.
In early 1965, Phil Volk replaced Mike Holiday on bass guitar. His boyish good looks and his self-given nickname of "Fang", in reference to his toothy smile, soon made him a fan favourite.
Word came that Dick Clark was looking for a group to use on his upcoming pilot for a TV show to be called Where the Action Is. After being recomended by Clark's secretary, who had seen them perform in California, The Raiders were hired, along with Linda Scott, Steve Alaimo and Tommy Roe. The show premiered on ABC-TV on June 27, 1965. In July, the Raiders played at a CBS records convention in Miami that lead to company approval for a nationwide summer tour. The combination of TV exposure and live shows pushed their debut album on to the national charts and at the end of 13 weeks, with "Steppin' Out" climbing to number 46, the Raiders were able to renegotiate their contract, becoming the shows stars.
In November 1965 their next record, "Just Like Me" was released. With a sizzling multi-tracked guitar solo by Levin, it became the groups' first Top 20 hit, reaching number 11 on the Billboard chart. Next came "Kicks", an anti-drug song written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, which went to number 4 on the Hot 100, followed by another Mann-Weil composition "Hungry", a number 6 hit. Despite the Raiders' success, producer Terry Melcher began using session musicians on the Raiders' recordings, starting with the unusual song "The Great Airplane Strike", which managed to reach number 20.
In the 60's, a band's persona, its image in the eyes of its fans, was created and sustained not only by the music but also by the sense of camaraderie, commitment and personality that the group reflected. Few groups could boast that their fans knew, by first name or nickname, all of their members. In that number were the Beatles, the Stones, later on the Monkees, and in 1965, Paul Revere and the Raiders. So it was with anxiety that Raider fans learned in the spring of 1966, that guitarist Drake Levin had left the group to join the National Guard before being drafted.
Upon Drake's departure, Revere plucked Jim Valley out of a Northwest band, Don & the Goodtimes. A noticeable resemblance to Marx Brother, Harpo, soon led to his nickname. Jim joined the guys on "Action", in the studio and on a furious tour schedule, just as "Good Thing" soared to number 4. His personality, if anything, even brighter than Drake's, swept over any reluctance true fans felt over Levin's departure.
The Raiders continued to rack up hits in the spring of 1967 with "Ups and Downs" (#22) before Jim Valley left and was replaced by the returning Drake Levin. Soon after, Levin, Volk and Smith left to form their own group. The final illusion of Paul Revere and the Raiders as a real rock and roll band soon evaporated. Left behind were Lindsay, Revere and producer Terry Melcher, but they were revealed as Oz-like men behind the curtain of a hit-making machine that was about to be short circuited by a rising tide of truly authentic rockers such as Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, not to mention the resurgent genius of the Beatles. The group lost its relevance when its power trio said goodbye.
Drake, Fang and Smitty were replaced by Freddy Weller, Charlie Coe and Joe Correro Jr., respectively (Keith Allison would later replace Coe as bassist for an extended run). Technically, these players were probably stronger musicians than the guys they replaced, but after scoring a number 5 hit with "Him Or Me - What's It Gonna Be", only a string of less than classic hits ensued: "I Had A Dream" (#17 - 1967), "Peace Of Mind" (#42 - 1967) (after which Melcher ceased to work with the band), "Too Much Talk" (#19 - 1968), "Don't Take It So Hard"(#27 - 1968), "Cinderella Sunshine" (#58 - 1968), "Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon" (#18 - 1969), "Let Me" (#20 - 1969), and "We Gotta All Get Together" (#50 - 1969).
By 1970-71, Lindsay had scored solo hits with "Silverbird" and "Arizona", however, he was still officially a member of the Raiders, who desperately needed a hit. Lindsay offered Revere his already-recorded song, "Indian Reservation". In the summer of 1971, the song reached number 1 on the US charts, the first and only Raiders' song to manage that feat. But it was a novelty song, not a true rock and roll band number. Rather than revitalizing Paul Revere and the Raiders, "Indian Reservation" was the group's swansong. One final Paul Revere and the Raiders record reached the Hot 100 when "Birds Of A Feather" made it to number 23 in the Fall of 1971. All the while, Mark Lindsay continued to chart solo singles; "Miss America" (#44 - May 1970), "And the Grass Won't Pay No Mind" (#44 - November 1970), "Problem Child" (#80 - January 1971), "Been too Long On the Road" (#98 - June 1971) and "Are You Old Enough" (#87 - October 1971).
As the '70s progressed, the band's concert appearances had changed, revealing contrasting attitudes between Revere and Lindsay. Revere wanted to play small venues, lounges and clubs which provided the opportunity to make the group into a tighter and more entertaining stage act. For Lindsay this was the last straw and he left the Raiders at the start of 1975.
Revere would eventually put another act together and continue to tour the oldies circuit while Lindsay would appear on his own. The pair would join forces again in 1976 for America's bi-centennial year for a tour and an album, but Lindsay left again after that.
Bassist, Phil "Fang" Volk toured with Rick Nelson's Stone Canyon Band before going on to write the score for numerous films and national commercials. He produced his own group, "The Brotherhood" on RCA Victor, as well as "The Great Crowd" on Lute Records. For nine years, Phil performed the lead role in the Broadway musical-styled play, A Blast From the Past, as well as a seven-year stint at Disneyland and Disney World as bandleader of "The Friendship Train". He went on to tour with a band he called Fang And The Gang.
Drake Levin went on to a solo career as well as joining Phil Volk and Mike Smith as a member of Brotherhood and as a highly in-demand studio musician, playing with Lee Michaels and Emmit Rhoades. One of the premiere Blues guitarists in the San Francisco area, Drake was playing with The Curtis Lawson Band as of 2002. Sadly, Drake died of cancer on July 4th, 2009. He was 62.
After Mike "Smitty" Smith left the Raiders in May 1967, he went on to form "Brotherhood" with Volk and Levin. They released three albums for RCA, but contractual obligations with Columbia caused problems which led to Brotherhood's obscurity. Smitty was very involved in both the financial and creative aspects of Brotherhood and co-wrote nearly every song on the first two albums. After leaving Brotherhood, Smitty again became a Raider from early 1971 until December 1972. He performed on the band's only Number One hit, "Indian Reservation" and also participated on their last Columbia album, "Country Wine". Smitty reunited a few times with the Raiders over the years, but sadly, died of natural causes at his home in Hawaii on March 6, 2001, at the age of 58.
As for the "replacement Raiders", Jim "Harpo" Valley moved to Washington and did children's music programs and recordings. Freddy Weller went to Nashville and enjoyed a prolific career as a Country music writer. Joe Correro became a jazz drummer in LA. Keith Allison also moved to LA and did some occasional TV work.
When Mark Lindsay's solo career faded, he became the head of A&R for United Artists Records as well as writing and recording commercials. He also built his own studio where he recorded everyone from Ringo Starr to Harry Nilsson and in general, stayed behind the scenes in music. In 1985, he was asked to host a series of live shows for Chrysler and was persuaded to sing a few songs. Realizing how much he missed performing, he signed on to the 100-city "Superfest" tour and continued into the new millennium.
In September 1997, Mark Lindsay, Phil Volk, Mike Smith and Drake Levin performed to a sold-out crowd of over 10,000 ecstatic fans in Portland, Oregon to mark their 30 year reunion.
In 2003, Mark Lindsay announced that he was retiring for good, but by 2005, he was back out on the road. When January, '06 came around, he could be heard on a webcast every Saturday night on the website of KISN radio from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. titled Mark After Dark, which moved to FM webcast K-Hits 106-7 that November.
On March 10th, 2007, the program changed its name to Mark Lindsay's Rock & Roll Cafe in reference to Lindsay's new restaurant, which opened in Portland, Oregon, on August 27th of that year. The restaurant included a remote studio where Lindsay did his radio show in front of restaurant patrons and could be seen by passersby. After being sued for trademark violations, Mark Lindsay's Rock & Roll Cafe announced its closure on May 12th, 2008. For the touring seasons of 2010 and 2011, Mark joined the Happy Together: 25th Anniversary Tour, along with Flo And Eddie of The Turtles, The Grass Roots and The Buckinghams. In the Spring of 2012, he was hosting shows on the Holland America cruise ship, Nieuw Amsterdam.
In the spring of 2001, Paul Revere set out on 24 date tour to promote his album, "Ride To The Wall" and in the Fall of 2004, was still touring, appearing with his band in Las Vegas. In 2005, '06, '07, '08, '09, 2010 and into 2011, Paul was booked solid for concert appearances across the United States. On October 13, 2007, Paul Revere and the Raiders were officially inducted, along with their manager, Roger Hart, into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. In attendance were Mark Lindsay, Phil Volk and Roger Hart to accept their awards.
Into 2012, Paul Revere And The Raiders were still maintaining a heavy touring schedule across the United States.
Highlights of Paul Revere and the Raiders career are:
The Raiders were the first rock group to be signed with Columbia Records.
The group has had 15 consecutive hit singles.
They have recorded 26 albums of which numerous are gold.
The group has sold nearly 50 million records in their career.
In 1965 - 1966 the group was featured on the ABC TV five-day-a-week network show; Where the Action Is produced by Dick Clark.
The Raiders have done numerous TV and radio commercials such as Pontiac, Mattel Toys, Chrysler and others.
In the summer of 1971 the Raiders' recording of "Indian Reservation" sold nearly 3 million singles, making it the biggest selling record for Columbia Records in 10 years.
The Raiders appeared on 520 Where the Action Is network shows on ABC. They also had a five day a week summer show in 1968-'69, called It's Happening on ABC, giving the Raiders a grand total of over 720 network appearances and making them the most televised musical group in the world.