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By Alan L. Chrisman
Paul Revere, leader and keyboardist for American 60s and 70s band, Paul Revere & The
Raiders just passed away recently. They had several big hits in the 60s and the 70s, such as
Kicks, Hungry, Just Like Me Him or Me-Whats it Gonna Be? and Indian
Reservation. They were known for their American Revolution costumes and pop songs, but
would later be considered a garage band by the punk era. Their image and sound was created
an American reaction to The Beatles and The British Invasion in the mid-60s and they wrote
and played some very catchy and popular hits.
Paul Revere (his real middle name) founded the band, when he met lead vocalist, Mark Lindsay,
in 1958, who was delivering buns to Reveres restaurant in Idaho. Revere was drafted into the
military, but as a conscientious objector, worked in a mental institution for a year and a half.
They formed a band called The Downbeats and had a few regional hits and toured, at one point,
with Leon Russell on piano. They got signed to Columbia Records because they had an early hit
with the later garage band classic, Louie Louie in 63.
The song,Louie Louie has its own fascinating history: Originally written by Richard Berry in
1955, it was a minor R&B hit for him. Berry was the uncredited lead vocal on Riot in Cell Block
#9 by The Robbins who later turned into The Coasters. He also sang on Etta James Roll With
Me Henry. But Berrys Louie Louie continued to remain popular around the American
Northwest, which is where The Kingsmen and Paul Revere and the Raiders heard it. They
recorded it at the same time and in the same studio as The Kingsmen, who would also have a
big hit with it in 63. I can remember it causing a controversy and being banned in Indiana,
where I was growing up in the early 60s, with even the F.B. I. investigating its supposedly
obscene lyrics! They concluded that the words were so hard to understand that it couldnt be
determined, either way. The legend is that the Kingsmens version was recorded while they
were drunk. But, of course, this only made the song more popular with college students and
added to its underground myth. Louie Louies raw energy and controversy would make it
also become adopted by the punk-rockers in the 80s. It has the distinction, next to Paul
McCartneys Yesterday, as the song with the most covers in rock history at over a 1000.
Paul Revere and The Raiders, were the first rock band to sign with the biggest U. S. record
company, Columbia, and were ahead of their time with their outfits and outrageous stage
antics (they would set their hair on fire), and helped American audiences accept raw pop. They
became the house band on Dick Clarks follow-up TV shows to American Bandstand, Where the
Action Is, and Happening 68. Kicks, Hungry, Just Like Me and Him Or Me were all top
5 hits in the mid-60s. Kicks was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil about songwriter,
Gerry Goffins drug problems, and then-husband of Carol King. They also did the first version of
Im Not Your Stepping Stone, written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, later a signature hit
for The Monkees. The Raiders were the top selling Columbia Records act at the time. The
Raiders, as they were now called, had another giant smash in 1971 with their Indian
Reservation, a socially conscious song about the plight of native people. It was written by John
D. Loudermilk., who also wrote hits for many other artists, Abiline (George Hamilton 4th),
Ebony Eyes(Everly Bros.), Tobacco Road(The Nashville Teens), Road Hog , etc. Indian
Reservation would go on to sell 6 million copies. Mark Lindsay, lead vocalist, had left the band
and had his own solo hit, Arizona, in 1969.
As I say, Paul Revere and The Raiders, considered a pop band then, would later become seen as
an early garage band and a punk influence. Several of their songs were covered by British punk
and new wave bands later, such as The Sex Pistols, The Circle Jerks, Flamin Groovies, Joan Jett,
David Bowie, The Who, etc.
But it was Paul Revere who founded them and was their brainchild and Paul Revere and The
Raiders is now considered ahead of its time with its raw pop sound.
See Paul Revere and The Raiders on Ed Sullivan doing Kicks, 1967:
See The Kingsmen do Louie Louie, 1963: