The Tall Cool Tale of Paul Revere & the Raiders: A conversation with Mark Lindsay and Paul Revere
March 24, 2011
The Tall Cool Tale of Paul Revere & the Raiders: A conversation with Mark Lindsay and Paul Revere
by Domenic Priore
For most rock ’n’ roll combos, to sustain the loss of not just one, but two era defining hits – “Louie, Louie” and “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” – could’ve easily set one off course. Not so with the Pacific Northwest’s Paul Revere & the Raiders, who moved to Hollywood in 1964 to become that rare combination of rock ’n’ roll hitmaker/television star. With 15 hits on the American Top 40 between 1961 and 1971, they were one of the most consistent groups of the ’60s… but this is not just a story of any mere chart buster.
From the moment Paul Revere & the Raiders came together as a band, they were pretty much antonymous in terms of their music, and what direction they wanted their career to be steered. In the wake of the Pacific Northwest’s first major hit in 1959 “Tall Cool One” by The Wailers, Paul Revere & the Raiders would follow with a similar instrumental for their first chart breakthrough “Like Long Hair” (#38) on Gardena Records in 1961. These were groups who designed their sound by direct connection with an audience, as the Pacific Northwest was not necessarily going along with the teen idol sap radio was delivering to kids in those post-Payola scandal days when so-called “rock ’n’ roll” had gone soft.
In the rhythm and blues community, such vanilla airplay issues made no difference, but for Anglo kids, to strike out on your own with a rock ’n’ roll combo was now somewhat against the Bobby Vinton/Bobby Rydell grain. The Pacific Northwest, Los Angeles and uninfected-by-HUAC British towns such as Liverpool shared a similar independence during the early part of the ’60s in terms of their continued embrace of actual, wyld rock ’n’ roll delivery. L.A. developed a tremendous amount of Surf instrumental groups and Chicano rock ’n’ roll while Liverpool swarmed with Beat groups. At the very same time in the Pacific Northwest The Wailers, Paul Revere & the Raiders, The Kingsmen, Don & the Goodtimes, Mr. Lucky & the Gamblers, The Sonics and many others came out with their own brand of rowdy music that came to be generalized as “Frat Rock” later on.
If you could paint a picture with words, let us in on what it was like to be in the Pacific Northwest during the late ’50s and early ’60s…
Mark Lindsay: The Wailers, they were very inspirational in that, when we were still back in Idaho playing as The Downbeats… the group that became Paul Revere & the Raiders… The Wailers’ ‘Tall Cool One’ (#36, June, 1959) came out, and I remember going to Paul and saying ‘Look, man, here’s a band from the Northwest, they actually made a record that’s on the charts. If they can do it, we can do it.’ That was really kind of one of our driving inspirations to go into the studio, because they had done it, and they were from the Northwest.
I remember when we were first forming the band in Portland, I went to see The Wailers, they were at The Trocadero club, which was actually the first place in Portland that we played at, after our home base The Headless Horseman. Went to see The Wailers, and I watched them and I said ‘Gawd, they’re so good, how can we ever compete with these guys?’ As a matter of fact, when we had our first chance to play in the Seattle area, I told Paul ‘We can’t do that, we can not play in this area,’ he said ‘Why not?’ I said ‘Because the musicianship in the Seattle area is so great, that you’re going to have all these guys in the front row criticizing the four-finger bass technique of the bass player. We can’t cut that.’ He said ‘Look, come on, man, we’re not like The Wailers, we’re just kick ass rock ‘n’ roll, and who cares about the bass players’ four-finger technique,’ and I gotta say, Paul was probably right in that respect. But the Wailers were a real inspiration to the band, and myself, and really forced me to increase my musical chops because that’s what I was aiming for, at that point in time… along with everybody else that I heard on the radio, but they were real, they were actually a living group for the Northwest.
We played a lot of dual bills with The Wailers, The Kingsmen and The Viceroys (who had future-Raider Jim Valley in the group). We played a couple of Battle of the Bands things with The Sonics, but they kind of came along at the tail end of the Raiders’ Northwest career, and by the time The Sonics hit pretty big, we were already in Los Angeles. I would like to think we had something to do with influencing a couple of people up there.
Paul Revere: We played the I.O.O.F. Hall in Caldwell, Idaho, we played the Armory in Nampa, Idaho, we played in Boise, a place called The Mirimar Ballroom, we played the Ontario Armory in Ontario, Oregon, we played the Armory in La Grande, Oregon, the Armory in Baker City, Oregon, the Armory in Pendleton, Oregon, the Armory in The Dalles, Oregon, and the armory in Beaverton, Oregon… it was just a whole circuit that went all the way up into Seattle. All those old ballrooms have been torn down and have become shopping centers by now. In Tacoma, Washington there was The Spanish Castle, then in Seattle there was The Target Ballroom, Parker’s Ballroom, a lot of places that just don’t exist anymore. That was it, you were stuck with armories because they were cheap, you could rent an armory for fifty bucks, the acoustics were terrible, but it didn’t matter, you know, you just turn up loud and the kids were there as a place to gather, and drink beer when their parents weren’t watching and dance their ass off to loud music. They loved it.
Mark: In Portland when we first started out, we played at The Headless Horseman, which was Smitty’s… (future Raiders drummer Mike Smith). He owned part of the club. We started getting a big following, and shortly after that we started playing The D Street Corral, which was a big venue in Portland, Oregon (17119 E. Division Street)… I remember seeing Bobby Vee there, early on. From Hank Williams to Buddy Holly… everybody played there. As a matter of fact, I have the original Bogen amplifier that everybody played through, including the Raiders. That was a hot venue, the Salem Armory, the Newport Armory, the Lake Oswego Armory, armories were a big deal in the Northwest. You cram three or four thousand kids in there, you didn’t tell the fire marshall, and armories were big. Basically, if there was electricity to power our amps, we’d probably set up and play.
Did you ever run into Jimi Hendrix in the Pacific Northwest during the early ’60s?
Mark: Yes, if you believe the story that Drake tells, and I’ve never known Drake to lie, but we were in The Spanish Castle one day, and this guy with an afro came up, and wanted to… Drake had just gotten a Stratocaster, he always used Epiphone and Sheraton guitars, mainly Epiphone guitars on stage, but he had just gotten the Strat, he was playing it, and he was playing it behind his head, and after the gig, this black kid came up and wanted, you know, asked to play Drake’s Strat… try his Strat out. And Drake says ‘That was Jimmy.’ I actually ran into Jimi Hendrix much later on, when I was living with Terry Melcher up in Benedict Canyon, he used to come over occasionally and hang out. So I guess we did see an early Jimmy, and a later Jimi.
So I gather this all starts in Idaho when both of you were part of The Red Hughes band?
Mark: The Red Hughes Band actually auditioned Paul as a piano player, and apparently he passed the audition, so he was in the band, and I thought ‘Gee, this would be a great band to be in.’ At the time, I was in another band with my roommate (guitarist Robert White), and that group was called Freddy Chapman & the Idaho Playboys… but I thought it would be really cool to be in an all rock ‘n’ roll band. Unfortunately, since Red Hughes was the lead singer, and it was his band, this wasn’t gonna be easy. Often, Red wouldn’t show up to rehearsals, so Robert and I would go down there and we learned all the songs. This went on for a month or so, and I started showing up at dances, and I’d get up and sing a couple of songs. This went on until I was starting to build a following. It all culminated one day, Red had to take his girl to the prom, and he told the band ‘Whatever you do, don’t let Lindsay on that stage.’ Of course after about 15 minutes, I couldn’t take it, I jumped up, was wailin’ away, and I happened to be rockin’ and rollin’ when Red came in the door, just before intermission, and he was furious. He didn’t throw me off the stage physically, but he told me to ‘Get off!‘ Then after the gig he took the band out around the back of the hall (this was at I.O.F.F. Hall in Kuna, Idaho) and told them if anyone ever let me on stage again, they’d be fired. As fate would have it, the band left him, and I was the lead singer. So the band lost a couple of members, and replaced a couple of members, and Revere and I became the focus of the band, it kind of became ‘a band’ at that point, and he handled the business, and I handled the music pretty much, and we just went from there.
So here, the Raiders have their first shot at independence… actually, as The Downbeats.
Paul: Basically I put a band together because I was promoting… I was a young, teenage entrepreneur… I had three barber shops and then, a Drive-In restaurant in my home town Caldwell, Idaho (Cleveland Boulevard, more recently an A&W Root Beer stand.) It catered to High School kids that ate hamburgers and drank Cokes and ate french fries…
I was a young kid, 18, 19 years old runnin’ my little Drive-In (“Reed and Bell Drive-In”… a brand name of root beer like A&W) and I decided to start promoting dances to promote the Drive-In. So I put together a little rock ‘n’ roll band and started promoting dances and it kind of grew from there.
I thought ‘Well, maybe I could make a record, I don’t think my band is any worse than anybody else’s out there.’ So I went into a pathetic little recording studio where they cut jingles for a radio station. They had a couple of microphones and a two-track, and so we went in and just cut some songs and some stuff that we were doing. Some of the stuff was originals, and I just took my little tape and took off to Hollywood from Idaho and started knockin’ on doors… and got lucky. Eventually I got somebody interested in my non-stop energy to try and do something with this.
Mark: In November 1960, at I.M.N. Productions Boise, Idaho, we recorded these demo tapes. The drummer was Jerry Labrum, Dick White was on rhythm guitar, his brother Robert “Moonie” White played lead guitar, Paul was on piano, with me on sax, tambourine and vocals. That was cut on an Ampex three-track. From that tape, Gardena Records released the first Paul Revere & the Raiders single ‘Beatnik Sticks’ b/w ‘Orbit.’ Bill Hibbard was the band’s first bass player, though he wasn’t on the session.
Paul: John Guss actually owned a pressing plant, and every once in a while, if he heard something he liked, he’d put it out on his own label. When he put us out with ‘Beatnik Sticks,’ he put it out on the Gardena label, because he was in Gardena, California, an L.A. suburb where poker was legal, and so the label on the record was like a deck of cards.
So Paul, John sees that you’ve been in business… you started out with three barber shops, and then the Drive-In, so he puts some trust in you… that’s a really important kick start.
Paul: John Guss, who owned Gardena Records, saw me as being a one-man promotion machine, and thought he’d take a chance with me, and press out some records and send ‘em to me and let me go around to the radio stations and kind of, do just like the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter, I’d see a radio tower stickin’ out of a pasture somewhere, I’d just pull in there and talk fast and convince whoever’s on the air to listen to my record and do a little interview and away I’d go to the next place.
I hired a radio station to build a little booth on the top of the Drive-In restaurant and have the radio station broadcast Live from the roof of the Reed and Bell Drive-In! on weekends, and of course they were promotin’ the hell out of whatever dance we were promoting that weekend, and playing the hell out of my records. So I had a built in, automatic situation. I didn’t have to worry about not getting airplay because I was hiring the radio station to play my records and promote my Drive-In and the dances, and that’s kind of how it all really evolved from there and kept going.
It was a small town, and there were a lot of other small towns within a 30-mile range, and so when I started promoting dances at the I.O.O.F. Hall or Moose Hall, whatever was available, or an Armory, I would just pick the next town and then I’d do it there, because kids, they like to drive ten miles, twenty miles, thirty miles, whatever it took to go to a rock ‘n’ roll dance. Pretty soon I’d spread out to where I was maybe going a hundred miles away from my home town, until eventually we were playing little towns in Oregon, and we pretty much had a circuit built up, because we were really the only rock ‘n’ roll band in Boise Valley. Kids were dyin’ to hear rock ‘n’ roll music and rock ‘n’ roll bands, so no matter where we went, it was like shootin’ ducks in a barrel, nothin’ to it. You went to the local High School, stuck some flyers under everybody’s car windshield wiper and put up a few posters and hired the one radio station in the area that played rock ‘n’ roll from 4 o’clock in the afternoon to 5 o’clock in the afternoon, bought a couple of cheap spots advertising the dance, and where it was gonna be, and it was like… it was ridiculous how easy it was to draw a crowd, and we’d just pack any place we play. It was like being the first guy to discover candy.
Mark: We were becoming very popular in Southern Idaho, and we were kind of becoming the #1 band up and down, throughout Idaho and parts of Eastern Oregon, but then Uncle Sam came knocking on Paul’s door. I remember sitting in Revere’s Thunderbird and he said ‘Well, that’s it’ – he had a ’58 T-Bird – ‘that’s the end of it, it’s all over, it was fun while it lasted and that’s it,’ and I said ‘no, no, this is not the end of it, life is, you get knocked down and you get back up. Do your time with Uncle Sam, I’ll go to Gary Paxton, who we met when he came through Caldwell, Idaho with The Hollywood Argyles (‘Alley Oop’) on their nationwide tour, and Gary said ‘If you guys ever get through Hollywood, look me up.’ So I told Revere ‘Look, we’ve got somebody there, and our record company was based out of Gardena, so I said ‘I’ll go down, keep the record company in line, keep the name going, keep the business going.’ So I jumped in my Valiant and went down to Hollywood, and I hung around with Gary Paxton, and his partner was Kim Fowley. I slept on Kim’s floor, drove him around, kind of got into American Studios on Sunset Boulevard, and I did five dollar demos, singing background and playing sax, playing percussion, whatever I could for Gary, and survived for two years, just barely.
There’s a second single “Paul Revere’s Ride,” and then on your third single, you scored a national hit with a boogie woogie rock ‘n’ roll instrumental inspired by New Orleans pianist Professor Longhair…
Mark: In early 1961, right after the release and successful local chart positions of ‘Beatnik Sticks,’ and just before Paul went to do his time in the service, we came to Hollywood and re-recorded two songs we’d done on the demo, ‘Like Long Hair’ and ‘Sharon’ with Gary Paxton as the producer. This was done at Richie Podolor’s American Recording Studios (then on Sunset Boulevard, next to Hollywood Palladium). Robert White and Jerry Labrum came down with Paul and I for the session, and Gary Paxton overdubbed Danelctro bass. That recording of ‘Like Long Hair’ went to #38 on the Billboard charts. As soon as the record hit, we were asked to come down to Los Angeles again, this time to appear on Wink Martindale’s P.O.P. Dance Party. The Beach Boys, who just had ‘Surfin” out, were also on the show. We did that, and The Lloyd Thaxton Show on that second trip.
So this is interesting, you have to make the best of that situation…
Mark: On the strength of the ‘Like Long Hair’ hit, John Guss of Gardena Records wanted us to tour. Of course Revere was tied up and couldn’t, so I took a group out as “Paul Revere’s Raiders” and I think we did three or four weeks… we had an interesting group, Ben Brown (later known as Ben Benay) was the guitarist, Frank James played bass, Rod Schaeffer was behind the drumkit… and the piano player was Leon Russell. Watching Leon on stage, I really learned what a showman is, I certainly learned from him that music was great, but the audience really liked a show along with it.
There is also the Like Long Hair LP, which Mark, you drew the cover…
Mark: The album Like Long Hair was cut at Western Recorders with Gary Paxton producing later in 1961. Chuck Britz was the engineer. Paul got a break from the service and drove down, he got like, a week off, and we recorded the stuff during his break. ‘Beatnik Sticks’ and ‘Like Long Hair’ were the original recordings, so we cut nine new tracks. The band at the album session, it wasn’t the original guys. It was Revere on piano, myself on sax and percussion, Derry Weaver on guitars (he’d recorded ‘Moon Dawg’ with The Gamblers), the drummer was Rod Schaeffer, who lived with Derry and I, then Derry tuned his guitar down and overdubbed bass. We needed one more track to make 12, so ‘Moon Dawg’ was a previously-recorded thing Derry brought in, and we added some parts. ‘Tall Cool One’ and ‘All Night Long’ were later pulled from the album as stop-gap singles.
After that album was recorded, Kim Fowley went into the studio and recorded ‘Like Charleston’ and ‘Like Bluegrass’ b/w ‘Leatherneck,’ which he did with studio musicians, probably the same guys that cut B. Bumble & the Stingers ‘Nut Rocker.’ No Raiders in there.
So after this water-treading period, how does the band get back on track?
Mark: I met Paul in Portland in 1962, when he was just about ready to finish his tenure. There was this club called The Headless Horseman which Mike Smith (‘Smitty’) was actually a third owner. When I went in to audition Smitty, I had to go in because Paul’s about five years older than me, and he was too old, he was over 21 and couldn’t go in the club. So that’s when I went in and heard Smitty playing this very poignant blues guitar, and actually brought him down to rehearsal to be a guitar player. He was a pretty good blues guitar player but didn’t really do much beyond that, and so we were kinda like, at the end of the session, ‘Well, I don’t know about this Smitty,’ and he said ‘Well, you know, I play drums too.’ So at the next rehearsal he brought his drums and it was infinite, it was like, really apparent that he was a great, natural rock ‘n’ roll drummer, so he became our drummer. Smitty, he may not have been the fastest cat in the studio, but if he had it down, he had it down, and it worked.
We reformed a group, the group in Idaho had disbanded… everyone else was doing different things at that time, and since we were in Oregon, we started rehearsing there and we got a couple of musicians. We found Smitty and put him on drums, we got a 16 year old guitar player named Steve West, and a bass player named Ross Allamang. Smitty, Steve, Ross, Paul and I went in to Northwest Recorders in Portland and recorded for Sande Records, first ‘Shake It Up (Parts 1 and 2),’ then (without Ross) ‘Louie Louie’ b/w ‘Night Train.’
Paul: During the ‘Louie Louie’ era, we were the hot band playing all over the Northwest at all the armories and whatnot up there, and basically I gotta give the credit for all of that to (band manager) Roger Hart. He was a #1 Disc Jockey at KISN in Portland, Oregon, he loved the band, and he and I got along like two brothers, and he thought we were just a natural, that we had something special. He was the one that convinced me that we needed to go in the studio and cut ‘Louie Louie’ because we were playing it at our dances every night, and the kids would just pack the dance floor, and we’d have to play it over and over and over, and he said ‘Let’s go in and record the stupid thing,’ so we did.
So now you’ve got a new band, and a great new recording… a paradigm shift happens here with the record labels.
Paul: We did a few records for John Guss at Gardena Records, and then when Roger Hart came along, I convinced Roger to put ‘Louie Louie’ out on his own label, and having John Guss press it up for him. So that’s why it was on Sande Records, because that was Roger Hart’s wife’s name, Sande. The first batch of ‘Louie Louie’ was on Sande Records, it started getting a lot of airplay in the Northwest and it hit the charts, and that’s when Roger took it to the next step and convinced Columbia Records to put this ‘Louie Louie’ out on the Columbia label… and it was no more that we got it out on Columbia, than The Kingsmen came out with their version on a smaller label, and then it was the battle of the labels. Columbia was such a big label, they really didn’t know how to promote rock ‘n’ roll, and the label that The Kingsmen were on (Wand) got the hit.
This is happening around June of 1963. How did ‘Louie Louie’ get into your repertoire in the first place?
Mark: When we first got to Portland, everybody kept requesting ‘Louie Louie,’ and The Kingsmen were actually friends of ours, we knew the guys, and people tried to build up this competition between Paul Revere & the Raiders and The Kingsmen; we were actually friends, but I asked Mike Mitchell, the guitar player ‘What’s a ‘Louie Louie?’ and he lent me his record of Rockin’ Robin Roberts & the Wailers, who had cut ‘Louie Louie’ right after Richard Berry had, and I learned ‘Louie Louie’…. so I have to give The Kingsmen a giant thanks there. On the strength of that, Steve West’s performance and the way the record sounded, we got signed to CBS Records and the rest follows.
When ‘Louie Louie’ and ‘Night Train’ came out on the West coast, apparently people who weren’t from the Northwest… Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, thought we were a black band. We got booked into a club in Oakland, and also a concert in Oakland where we were the only white group on the bill, it was like, Gary U.S. Bonds and The Shirelles …I remember the musical director was Sly Stone, he was still a DJ in San Francisco at that time.
Columbia Records executive Mitch Miller pretty much killed ‘Louie Louie.’ We were hitting up and down the West Coast and we had just, almost started to break into Los Angeles and the promo guy had talked to the guy at R&B station KDAY to go on the Raiders record. One of the guys from Wand Records heard about the fact that KDAY was getting on the Raiders’ version, called up the program director, and told him that we were white (a lot of early stations also thought we were black). The guy from Wand had The Kingsmen’s version, and told the guy at KDAY The Kingsmen were black, ‘How could these white guys suppress The Kingsmen, when they should go on The Kingsmen’s record?,’ so they did. They didn’t know The Kingsmen where white… maybe he thought they came from Jamaica or something with that strange accent, or strange delivery that Jack Ely did. About the same time, Mitch Miller told his promo guys to stop pushing the Raiders record, because he hated rock ’n’ roll. I think he thought, in his heart of hearts, that if they had a couple of failures in the rock ’n’ roll department, that maybe they wouldn’t have to have any more rock ’n’ roll at Columbia, and they could go back to Doris Day and Andre Kostelanetz… and Mitch Miller.
After The Kingsmen had ‘Louie Louie,’ Jack Ely, who was the lead singer, was fired, and Lynn Easton, who was the drummer on The Kingsmen’s ‘Louie Louie,’ started playing sax and became the lead singer. Unfortunately, and Lynn, if you’re listening, I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but there was just something really, really wrong about the way Jack Ely sung, and that was so great, that it kind of made the whole thing happen. So it was kind of a shame when Jack left the group right after ‘Louie Louie.’ The Kingsmen never sounded the same after that for a lot of reasons.
Still, the Raiders’ ‘Louie Louie’ single was played enough to hit #103 on the Billboard charts. In all this time, you’re playin’ around the Pacific Northwest, how did the outfits come about?
Mark: They actually happened, the very first time, just about the time of ‘Louie Louie’s’ recording, as a matter of fact, we were still living in Portland, Oregon, and we had a gig in Lake Oswego, we were playing the Junior/Senior prom or something, and as Paul and I were walking down the street in Portland, picking up our cleaning, we walked by this costume shop, and here they had all these manikins, and one of ’em was dressed in Revolutionary garb. I looked at Paul and said ‘See that? Now that’s the way Paul Revere & the Raiders should dress. That’s the way they used to dress in the old days,’ and we kind of look at each other and said ‘Hmmmm.’ So we went in and rented the costumes for that night. The first half of the dance we played in our regular Blazers, and at intermission we changed into the three-cornered hats and the long coats. Getting on stage, it was like being in a play, everybody was in costume, and suddenly, I felt, and it seemed to me the general tenor of the emotions in everyone… that suddenly we could get away with anything because we were in costume… no one would really know who we were. Of course, they did, but it was just that feeling. We were just insane that night, we had water fights, and we, you know, just went crazy. We had a great time, but we never thought that much about it, we thought it was a wonderful, wonderful experience, so we only rented it that one night, but next time we came back and played in the Portland area, the kids came up and said ‘Hey man, where’s your outfits? Where’s the costumes, where’s the ???’ and Paul and I went home that night and said ‘Hmmm, maybe we got something here,’ so we started renting them again, then that got kind of expensive. We had a set made and it just became the trademark.
Paul: It was something that, in the very beginning, with the first hit record we had ‘Like Long Hair,’ the record company owner, John Guss, he thought it was so funny that my name was Paul Revere, he thought, ‘I can just see you in a Colonial costume sitting at a grand piano like Liberace, and playing this rock ‘n’ roll boogie woogie piano.’ So the seed was kind of planted when he was talking about that. But later it was just a simple thing of walking down the street and spotting a costume shop that had one of the dummies in the window with a Colonial costume, on with a three-cornered hat and a coat.
We rented them as a joke, so we put ‘em on at intermission (at that time, just the coat and the hats,) and everybody just thought it was a riot, it just made the show that much more crazy, and then we decided to take it to the next step, and after renting those coats after two or three weekends, I’m goin’, ‘What we’re payin’ for rent, I can have some made.’ So I had some coats made, and ordered some hats, and then decided to go with the tight pants, I think some girls suggested ‘You guys ought to wear some tight pants with those things, and the boots, that’d be sexy.’ Pegged bottoms… then we took it to the next step and actually had knee-high boots made with zippers on the side, to fit knee high, with the tight pants. So that way we could be silly, but the girls thought that was kind of sexy, to see the boys in the tight pants, where as the guys, they just thought it was ridiculous and funny that we were out there in our Raider costumes and our three-corner hats sweatin’ our ass off.
Mark: For a while there we might have split the shows, kind of like that first show accidentally with our Blazers on the first half and then the outfits on the second, but it became really apparent that the kids really wanted to see the wild, crazy Raiders. They didn’t care about the spiffy Raiders, so we just did both costumes and went with, as we lovingly called them, the ‘idiot outfits’ from then on.
Paul: We would wear the collarless Blazers with… they were called flamenco boots… and then later they became, because The Beatles used them, they called ‘em Beatle boots, but they were actually Spanish dancing boots. We used to wear those short boots with these Blazers so we’d look semi-cool, and then at intermission, we would change into the Raider costume with the high boots, tight pants and the puffy-sleeve shirts and the Colonial jackets to give the second half of the show a kick in the ass. Finally the second half of the show… in the Colonial look… that became the demand. It’s like, that’s what people wanted to see. That became our trademark from our ‘Louie Louie’ days in 1963.
This sense of showmanship, though… something inherent in the band must have already been there to pull off the wild behavior on stage…
Paul: When I was a little kid, I loved music, and I loved to laugh. I loved Abbot & Costello, I loved the Keystone Cops, I loved The Three Stooges and I loved Spike Jones & the City Slickers, and The Hoosier Hotshots, because they not only were crazy, but they played music, so that made them one step better than The Three Stooges. The fact that Spike Jones, to keep people awake, he was constantly shooting his gun in the air, that cracked me up, so I added that to my show. Dressing up in not-your-typical band costumes was very appealing to me. I liked the idea of following through with my name Paul Revere, and doin’ somethin’ off the wall. It was a great gimmick and went along with the name, and it made our show fun to watch, and it was impossible to just stand still and play music, because when you’re dressed like that, and you look like that, you had to be active and fun and crazy and we had steps and routines that we did on stage. I remember hearing about what a showman James Brown was, and I thought ‘That’s what you gotta do, you gotta be a showman, you gotta make it crazy, you gotta keep their interest.’
Mark: Once I found out from Leon Russell what rock ’n’ roll was all about, we started playing Frat dances in Portland. I remember playing one of the first Frat dances we did at the Oregon University, in Corvallis. We were setting up everything on stage, and one of the guys came up and said ‘Huh? Who are you guys?’ We said, ‘We’re Paul Revere & the Raiders,’ and he said ‘Yeah, well we could have had Doug Clark & the Hot Nuts, you know?’ and I said ‘Well, what’s so good about them?’ and he said ‘Well, you know, they appear in their underwear!’ So I turned around to the guys and I said ‘O.k., guys, drop trough’ and everybody took their pants off and we played the rest of the gig that way. It was a personal thing for me to try to top every performance and do something that we hadn’t done before, and something that they hadn’t seen before, so outrageous that they would be just talking about it for days. Apparently it worked, to some degree.
Shortly after that, Derek Taylor, who was the original press agent of The Beatles, then came to America and worked us, The Byrds and several other acts before he went back to Apple in ’68, but he said ‘This is perfect, you’ll be the American answer to the British Invasion’ and then, you know, they really played that up.
Around this time, the dance steps come in too…
Mark: After we recorded ‘Louie Louie,’ we moved back to Boise and we got a guitar player named Charlie Coe, and a bass player named Dick Walker. They were basically step-brothers, they’d been raised together, they had played in bands, and they had this whole routine with steps. Charlie Coe left early, we replaced him for a short time with Pete Oulett, then finally with Drake Levin. Then out at this big gig in Seaside, Oregon, Dick left, so I called in Mike Holladay who I’d worked with over the years. We flew Mike in to Portland, and had him driven out to The Pipo Club in Seaside. Drake had already kind of gotten the steps from Dick Walker… then Mike took over Dick Walker’s steps and expanded on them… Drake and Mike choreographed that great routine on ‘Big Boy Pete’… so the steps are kind of a tradition in the group. Then in ’65 when Phil Volk came into the group on bass, we already had the steps down, and he kind of took it over. Drake and Phil embellished it, and improved on it.
Was there a moment when you knew things were really clicking for Paul Revere & the Raiders in the Northwest?
On the West coast, by Cannon Beach, Seaside and Newport, Oregon, that’s kind of where the Raiders made their bones, because every year there were these things called ‘The Seaside Riots,’ and all the kids from Seattle, Portland… all over the Northwest… would come down to Seaside, Oregon for the spring break, and it was just a giant affair. The year before we played there, The Wailers had played, and the kids had taken over the town, there was a giant riot, basically. The Wailers had played at this place called The Pipo Club, it was kind of like a balcony, overlooking the beach. The next year, we played the Seaside Riots, and we did end up playing at The Pipo Club. It was really kind of the culmination of where the Raiders hit the so-called ‘big time’ in the Northwest… we’d been playing at The Headless Horseman, the armories and frat parties at The University of Oregon and Oregon State, but it was at that party, at the Seaside Riots, that kind of put us on the map, we got a lot of press on that. That year the city fathers decided they were gonna walk through the town with ax handles and knock the brains out of any kid that looked like they didn’t need to be there, so it was kind of brutal. We ended up playing for the crowd, and all the kids that were there, whether they were from Seattle or anywhere in the Northwest, remembered Paul Revere & the Raiders.
There is this one regional thing about the Pacific Northwest, this “Crisco” dance craze. Please explain…
Mark: The Olympics’ ‘Hully Gully’ was part of our repertoire, and one day, I was singing it, and I kind of like, started creating lyrics on the spot, and we came up with ‘Crisco, Crisco Party.’ At that time in the Northwest (and probably everywhere else in the United States) there was this urban myth about ‘Crisco parties,’ and I’m not sure if it ever happened or not, but the myth was you’d get a bunch of boys and girls together, everybody’d get greased up with Crisco, get in a big pile and then whatever nature determined would happen naturally. We had a roadie, and he actually built a Crisco barrel, got a 50-gallon barrel and put a Crisco label on it, and I would perform ‘Crisco Party’ rolling around in a barrel on stage.
It makes sense then at this early stage your band nickname was “Mad Man” Marcus. Right about here there is also a second Paul Revere & the Raiders album, originally released on Sande Records but later on issued on a lot of budget labels exploiting the Where The Action Is!-era success of the Raiders (In The Beginning and so on)… when was that recorded, and released?
Mark: I can’t give you the exact time, it was released like, near Thanksgiving, and the recording was probably just after we signed with CBS Records, that’d be early ’63, but now the truth can be told. Roger Hart said ‘You know, we should have something that we cut before we went to CBS Records, so I can sell it.’ So we went into a studio in Boise, Idaho and cut the album, it was just basically part of our repertoire from live dances. We knocked it out in one day and that became the Sande album… that was supposedly cut before the Raiders were signed, but I think it was recorded afterwards. I know it came out after we were signed to CBS.
The guys who recorded ‘Louie Louie’ for Sande Records (later to be released on Columbia) were a slightly different bunch of Raiders than even those who recorded the Sande album later (which has Mike “Doc” Holladay on bass, and features the addition of Drake “The Kid” Levin on guitar). Then it becomes the Where The Action Is! lineup by the time of the first Columbia LP in ’65.
Mark: Shortly after ‘Louie Louie,’ Drake Levin became our steady guitar player…he stepped in right after Steve West… actually Charlie Coe came in for a little while, and then Drake stepped in permanently, and was there throughout, from maybe late ’63/early ’64 on through ’65, early ’66, when some of the greatest stuff was being done.
This seems a very important juncture for the band…
Mark: Drake… if it hadn’t been for Drake Levin I’m not sure I’d be giving you this interview today, he was a really innovative guitar player. We hired him in the band when he was 16 years old, I went over to interview him, Paul said ‘We need a guitar player.’ I was in Boise, Idaho at the time, and I’d heard about this kid from Chicago that was going to Boise High. Drake was 16 years old, and I went over and listened to him play and… ‘Wow!’… ’cause, you know, he was into Buddy Guy, Robert Johnson, way beyond his years, in his playing ability. So he came into the group, and his rhythm, I think Drake was a great lead player but he was one of the best rhythm guitar players that I ever played with. He became my right hand man, he and I. Drake really became my strongest ally on stage, and we’d bounce off each other and work out things, and some of my greatest memories was playin’ counterpoint sax and guitar with him on various records. Drake was really unique, and he was such an asset to the band.
So now we’re into 1964, and despite The Kingsmen getting the bigger hit on ‘Louie Louie,’ Paul Revere & the Raiders have built momentum… the band lineup is beginning to lock in… and there’s a couple of really cool singles “Louie Go Home” (soon covered in England by David Jones & the Kingbees – Bowie – and The Who) and “Over You.” Preparations are being made for the debut LP on Columbia. At the same time, you’re becoming involved with America’s most visible television personality for the teenage marketplace, Dick Clark, who has been hosting American Bandstand nationally since 1958. Now Clark has moved to Los Angeles from Philadelphia, and begins to produce his most ambitious Pop show yet Where The Action Is! He chooses Paul Revere & the Raiders to be the show’s house band. How does this… happen?
Paul: Roger Hart, he was our big promoter, he’s the guy who eventually got us hooked up with the Dick Clark office, he got us hooked up with Columbia Records… before Columbia Records was even in the rock ‘n’ roll business, he just made a lot of things happen. My forte was finding armories to play, and promoting stuff, and then Roger started making the radio commercials, and we just became partners in promoting dances. We started promoting dances all over the Northwest… Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Northern California… it just kept spreadin’ and spreadin’. Roger was like the sixth Raider, he was my right arm man, he was the guy that I sat and talked with every night making plans where we were gonna play next, what are we gonna do next. The guys in the band, they were just young guys havin’ fun. Even though I was only a few years older than the rest of the guys, when you’re young, a few years is a big gap. I had more of a big brother/father image in the band than anything else, my nickname at one point was ‘Uncle’ Paul. Roger Hart was about the same age as I was, so we were the two ‘old men’ runnin’ the business and bookin’ the dates. Then he would go off to Hollywood to knock on doors, he had a great way about him, he had a wonderful personality. Nobody could not like Roger Hart, and he could talk his way through any secretary and end up getting a meeting with the boss, whether it’s Dick Clark, or the president of Columbia Records, or no matter who it was, he was persistent and he was just an amazing guy.
What was the transference like, from what you had going in the Pacific Northwest, then coming to Hollywood?
Mark: We did play The Cinnamon Cinder early on, when we first came to L.A. We came down basically because we were signed to CBS, so we were kind of working up songs to do in the studio, and we were signed to Action!, so we moved down basically, kind of for that reason. We had been touring a lot in the Northwest, so when the TV show hit, our booker in the Northwest, a guy named Pat Mason, immediately started booking us nationally. So we didn’t play that many nightclubs, we mainly were thrust right away into the TV show, the studio and out on the road. I did go to the Sea Witch, early, I think to see Preston Epps, and some of the other acts that were there. I went to see Timi Yuro around that time, can’t remember the venue. Of course The Knickerbockers at The Red Velvet, that was still kind of a rock ‘n’ roll club where you could have long hair and not be shunned if you didn’t have a Beatle haircut. The Knickerbockers would become part of Where The Action Is! I also saw The Doors and Jimi Hendrix at the Whisky. We never played Whisky a Go Go, we were booked there, and then for some reason we had a gig out of town and had to cancel, then we never came back. During the heyday of the Raiders, I remember going out to a show at The Hollywood Bowl featuring The Animals, The Young Rascals and Tommy James & the Shondells.
After a lot of lineup changes, in February of 1965 Phil “Fang” Volk also comes into group and things begin to stabilize.
Mark: We were playing at a club in Las Vegas called The Pink Pussycat a Go Go. It was a grueling schedule, we were on 45 minutes, off 45, on 45, off 45, for five or six hours. The group opposite of us was called The Enemys, which had Cory Wells as the bass player. Mike Holladay had been having some problems, and he was kind of like, leaving the group. One of Drake’s classmates in Boise was Phil Volk, and they had become friends because they were both musicians. Paul wanted to get Cory Wells in the group, who of course later went on to Three Dog Night. He had other plans (The Enemys would become a house band at Whisky a Go Go in Hollywood), so Drake suggested we get Phil Volk in. Mike stayed on for another two weeks, while we were playing The Pink Pussycat a Go Go, and showed him all the choreography, all the notes, he was very gracious. Phil stepped in, and had everything down. He was a very effusive personality, a great bass player, a great singer… and a very funny guy… so he was perfect for when the Raiders stepped into Where the Action Is! Phil was a very good fit for the Raiders on the TV part.
In the meantime, with the promise this kind of thing brings, the group becomes more solid than ever and things begin to really take off.
Paul: In the very beginning, the very early band members were just some guys that were local guys, you had somebody that you knew might play drums, and somebody played guitar, and it was just friends that we’d get together and jam in E, and then pretty soon you jam in C, and most of the rock ‘n’ roll songs that were out on the radio were real easy to learn, and so it was real simple to put them together. Once I’d made up my mind to take it to the next step and go to Hollywood, try to make a record deal, then, that lineup changed quite often. It started out, different members came and went. The band that ended up being the famous Raiders were the guys that were just lucky enough to be in the group when Dick Clark put us on Where The Action Is! Even though we’d had a little recording success prior to being on the TV show, those guys had come and gone. So once we went on Where The Action Is!, everybody’s face became familiar. At that point, the guys in the band were Drake Levin on guitar, Phil Volk (“Fang”) on bass, Mark Lindsay on lead vocal, Mike Smith (“Smitty”) on drums with me on keyboards. That became what is commonly known as the Raiders, because we were on television five days a week, and you couldn’t get that kind of exposure anywhere, you couldn’t beat it. We were the first TV stars, as a rock ‘n’ roll band. So that was pretty heavy duty.
And this is the group who records the first Columbia album Here They Come!, which is basically Pacific Northwest crowd-pleasers thrown inside that tremendous CBS studio on Sunset Boulevard…
Mark: Terry Melcher was our first producer, but he didn’t know what to do with us, so he gave us to Bruce Johnston, and he produced the live part of the Here They Come! album. Then Terry took over… it was all studio, but the ‘live’ stuff was cut in the studio. “Louie Louie” is the Sande version, though there is a version out there recorded “live” by Bruce. We were obviously the first rock group signed to CBS, only because Capitol was having such great success with The Beach Boys, and all the indies were, of course, charting all the time with rock records and somebody at CBS thought they should have a rock ’n’ roll band… but nobody knew what to do with us. We were playing on the California coast, up North, Terry flew me in to do the vocal on ‘Sometimes,’ and we hit it off in the studio really well. None of the other guys were there, and we kinda like, started talkin’ about music and writing and stuff and we started collaborating shortly thereafter.
Nowadays we take for granted marketing… anything… with synchronicity… this has become an extremely advanced science. So it would seem on the surface to people today that Paul Revere & the Raiders position on a popular, daily, national television show was concocted as a the perfect setup between Columbia Records and ABC Television, with the Raiders enjoying the spoils…
Mark: Not Columbia; Columbia didn’t have a clue. The Raiders were their bastard child. They knew nothing about us. Terry was getting hits with us and that’s all they knew about, they never, we never saw a suit in the studio. They had no clue, but if we had an upcoming single, like ‘Ups and Downs,’ ‘Him Or Me’ or whatever it was, Terry and I would make a TV mix of it and then we’d cut it on the show, and try to time it with the release of the record. Some times we got a little ahead, some times we got a little behind, but we knew, based on what happened with the exposure on television to the record, how important that exposure was. We definitely planned that, but it was mainly Terry and myself, Roger Hart involved in that a little, but CBS had nothing to do with it. So we were just kind of winging it, and going with what works and what didn’t, and this seemed to work.
Goddard Leiberson became the president of Columbia Records… he was very much a gentleman, he was very much an old school musician, and I don’t think he understood … I know Mitch Miller hated rock ‘n’ roll because it was infringing on his airplay, but I think Goddard hated rock ‘n’ roll because it was infringing on his eardrums. The West Coast division was really kind of an outpost at that point in time. The big things were happening in New York. Terry was thee rock ‘n’ roll producer at CBS, he was a giant Brian Wilson fan, and Jan and Dean and all that, and he understood the music of the times. He was the right place at the right time, and certainly was for us. I think Terry was mainly the guy that talked to the suits at CBS because he had a relationship with them, because of his mother (Doris Day). He was very mild mannered, he didn’t look radical, and didn’t act radical, so he could walk into a room and not turn people off, and I think he may have suggested they record a song, it became a hit, and after a few of those suggestions they kind of like, went with his instincts and his suggestions. As long as he was having hits, he was the fair-haired boy at CBS. He was kind of like the Rosetta Stone between his mother, and The Mothers of Invention.
I think Terry saw a way of a promotion that might have some value with record sales and it really did, you can follow the chart records of the Raiders when we were doing the television shows Where The Action Is! and/or It’s Happening. The whole country got to see us perform the song, liked it, and there you go. We found out through the chart action, that if a record was premiered or played on Where The Action Is!, we got an immediate boost on the charts. But I have to say, I think CBS, their take on the Raiders was ‘Okay, I really don’t understand this, I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s working, so let ’em do it. As long as its’ working, let ’em go.’ They kind of like, gave us carte blanche, they really didn’t interfere because they really didn’t understand us, I don’t think. It was like ‘Whatever kid, do your thing, it’s great, give me another hit.’
What Goddard had to say didn’t weigh that much, Mitch was the only outwardly hostile force that we ever really met at CBS. Goddard kind of like, rolled with the flow. At that point in time rock ‘n’ roll was actually happening, and Goddard kind of let it wash over him because he didn’t really know what to do to counter-act it. And then I think because Goddard really didn’t understand the new music, he didn’t try to quell it, like Mitch had, but because he wasn’t really adding that much to the rock ‘n’ roll roster, that’s probably when they kind of put him out to pasture and hired Clive Davis. I have to give hats off to Terry here, and Bruce as well, because without Bruce and Terry, we probably wouldn’t have had the success we had at CBS.
So now we’re well in to 1965, and there is a shift in the sound of Paul Revere & the Raiders. The first album featured a cover of The Rolling Stones’ take on the Irma Thomas record “Time Is On My Side.” By the time of the second Paul Revere & the Raiders album Just Like Us, there is definite ’60s Garage Punk sound, taking essential parts of the British Invasion sound and putting them back onto the basic American approach to R&B that the group had been mining for about five years. The feel of The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and The Animals is coming in strong.
Mark: When the Animals came out, of course they had the electric piano. It was the Farfisa organ, and then the Vox organ, was the main sound then. That’s when Paul switched from piano to organ, and unfortunately for him, that took a lot of the fun out of his playing, because he was a rip-roarin’ boogie woogie piano player, but on the organ, he just kind of like padded chords and stuff. He did it, but he really couldn’t shine after that, and show his keyboard chops. The first wave obviously came from the British Invasion but we picked up on it, The Standells did, and it became ‘the sound.’
The liner notes to Here They Come! do talk about how Paul idolized Jerry Lee Lewis… but this is another approach.
Mark: The Farfisa was first, we heard those records (Animals, Dave Clark 5) and there wasn’t a Farfisa organ to be had. We found this thing called a Thomas Organo which was basically several stops of a Thomas organ built into a Vox. Then you had this little bar you mounted over the keyboard of a piano that had little pegs coming down, and when you pressed the keys, it activated the pegs on this little strip, and that triggered the organ. So we had an organ with our piano and eventually we started carrying our own piano around, a small upright with the Organo built into it. Then, when the first Farfisa came out, the portable compact organ, we heaved this giant sigh of relief and threw out the small upright we were carrying around, because it was like, really heavy, and just went with the compact Farfisa. That worked until we got sponsored by Vox, and we switched over to the Vox Continental. The Farfisa was more cheesy and it cut through, but the Vox, it was great if you were doing nothing but like, loud, screaming rock ’n’ roll. If you want to do ballads like “Because” by The Dave Clark 5… that had a mellower organ. The Farfisa was just, it just really didn’t have any bottom end. The Vox could sound like that, but it also had a little more depth on the bottom. You could also make it really chunky if you wanted to, with the Farfisa, all you can do is scream.
O.K., now the music is bolstered, and is moving in the direction where Paul Revere & the Raiders become one of the most power-packed, prominent bands in rock ‘n’ roll during 1965 and 1966… and in the essence of the times… true teen idols… as were The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, those same two years. I think it’s crucial to note that… this was the market, this was the kind of music Paul Revere & the Raiders had to be at least at the level of, in terms of intensity. Looking back, it was really one of those rare moments where, to be a teen idol didn’t necessarily mean the music was weak… in fact, in ’65/’66 it was quite the opposite.
Mark: If you look at those early 16 magazines, and Tiger Beat, it’s gonna be Mick Jagger, Mark Lindsay, Paul McCartney and we were… The Beatles, the Raiders, the Stones, and some other English groups, we were trying to be… well, weren’t trying to becompetitive, but we were kind of holding our own on that level. I also think that, unfortunately, looking in retrospect, the uniforms that we were wearing were great, it was a wonderful trademark, it was a unique display, but it also really pigeonholed us, and as the music changed, even the music that we were making in the grooves, the image that the people had of us, I don’t think did change. To this day, I think Paul Revere & the Raiders get written off in some circles as being really a lightweight, and just puff pieces and not musical at all which is totally the wrong impression. We made some great rock ’n’ roll.
… like, for example, you’re first real breakthrough hit on Columbia, “Steppin’ Out”…
Mark: ‘Steppin’ Out,’ the session, was because we needed a new rock ’n’ roll song in the contemporary times, we’d been kind of struggling before that, trying to find something that would work. ‘Steppin’ Out’ was a song that I had written when I first joined the Raiders, I was like, 17, something like that, but I never really finished it. I had the lyrics, I had the melody, but after we got signed to CBS and we needed a serious rock ’n’ roll record in the direction of The Kinks, Rolling Stones, whatever was happening at that time. The British Invasion was incredibly a huge thrust in American music.
So, The Nashville Teens’ ‘Tobacco Road’ had this like, riff. I said ‘Man, that’s a great lick,’ so I took the first half of that and didn’t finish the whole phrase, we just kept repeating that, that became the riff of ‘Steppin’ Out.’ I gave it to Phil, and to Drake to play, and they played it in unison and it became the lick that went through the song, on top of the lyrics, which I already had, and the melody, and it became our first rock ’n’ roll hit on CBS… that, Bruce Johnston produced.
At that point, Terry had turned us over to Bruce because he didn’t know what to do with us, but after ‘Steppin’ Out,’ which was, it just had this raw, teenage, Northwest energy. We were lucky enough to record it at CBS Records, that had this incredible studio geared for symphonic recordings, so they got every nuance of the angst and energy we were putting down, and it came through so well. If you turned on your radio, man, you heard it all. That was our first big record, I think it would have been bigger had it been our second or third record, but it was our first breakthrough record on CBS. Bruce Johnston did a great job of producing that, singing background on it with us. After Terry heard how good ‘Steppin’ Out’ turned out, he kind of took over the reins himself. There was some ‘promise’ in the group.
‘Steppin’ Out’ kind of turned Terry’s head around, and then when we got ‘Just Like Me’ and he produced that, it was shortly after we recorded ‘Steppin’ Out’ that Terry and I talked about writing together, and we started doing some projects. It was really hard to find time to do it, he was living in one place, and I was living in another, so we decided to take a place together up in Benedict Canyon, and we started writing more material.
“Steppin’ Out’ went to #46 on the charts, but then the next one “Just Like Me” climbed all the way to #11. The source is really interesting, a band from the Pacific Northwest, originally called The Furys, who came to L.A., changed their name, recorded “Beaver Patrol” and “Just Like Me” at Ted Brinson’s studio in South Central L.A (2190 E. 30th Street)…. and then… it’s purchased outright for the Raiders by Roger Hart (and for a pretty good sum). Something about those times… people seemed to be able to tell when something had definite hit potential.
Mark: ‘Just Like Me,’ that’s a song that our then-manager Roger Hart found, it was a song by these guys in The Furys, Rick Dey and Rich Brown, from Longview, Washington. They had a version of it on a local L.A. label (Star-Bright) as The Wilde Knights. Somehow Roger heard it and he brought it to us and said, ‘You know, I think this would be a great Raider record,’ and we listened to it and said ‘Yeah, I think you’re right. We cut it with Terry, and of course that has the iconic guitar solo that, we were in the studio, we were cutting it, we did the guitar solo and at that point in time, CBS only had 8-track recording equipment, so there was only one track left for the guitar solo. Drake did it, and we thought it was a great solo, but after he finished it, he said ‘You know guys, I think I can do better than that,’ and we said ‘No no no, don’t,’ because we were all afraid he wouldn’t play it quite as well and we’d lose the magic first solo. He said ‘No, no, guys, I can do it, I can do it,’ so he talked us into it, but unbeknown to us, the engineer… bless his soul… patched the guitar solo into a track where the background vocals were on, but they weren’t singing during the solo, so he didn’t erase the first solo, he kept it , records the second solo, and when we asked to play back what we thought was the only solo left, the second solo, he played back both of them, the first one right, the second one left (left and right stereo,) and we went ‘Wowwww!’ It was such a cool sound, I think it might be one of the first double-tracked solos in history, other than Les Paul who was trying to double track himself. It was an accidental thing, but it worked great, and I think it’s an iconic guitar solo to this day.
It’s a very steamy record.
Mark: Yeah, and Drake takes it one step higher, which is great. Since we did a lot of R&B early, we found out that a lot of times, unison was better than anything else, so you’ll hear like, the guitar and the bass and maybe organ playing the same riff, same line in unison, and it just adds to the power.
One thing I notice, there is a different approach to singing that comes in around here, which really complimented your voice, and so a style develops that kind of becomes your “thing”…
Mark: Up to that time, my main voice was to be an R&B singer, at least I was trying to be an R&B singer, because that’s what the Northwest band was all about. We’re doing all these songs from New Orleans, our repertoire was probably 80%, 90% black artists that we covered, and I was trying to be as dark as I could. Because I was singing that way I actually developed nodules and had to have an operation in San Francisco. I went to a vocal coach, Judy Davis – she coached The Kingston Trio, Barbara Streisand, and a lot of people… she heard some of my tapes and said ‘Mario Lanza, you ain’t, but if you want to sing rock ’n’ roll, I’ll show you how to keep your voice.’ So she suggested that instead of just going balls-to-the-wall all the time, that like, I try to sing the verses a little softer, and then really belt out the choruses, so I could save something. Of course, ‘Just Like Me’ was perfect for that, and if you’ll listen to ‘Hungry’ and even ‘Kicks,’ that kind of set a precedent because on those records, the verses are softer, and the choruses are more all out. So I would say she helped… Terry liked that style and we began writing songs that would kind of fit that pattern.
Now the Raiders were doin’ some damn cool covers of things like Them’s “Baby Please Don’t Go” and the Animals “I’m Cryin,” which bass player Phil Volk actually sang. Around here you get a new song that would become a rock ’n’ roll classic “I’m Not You’re Steppin’ Stone,” which has the cache of course that The Sex Pistols recorded it, and it was perfect for them. It may have been best known by The Monkees of course, but didn’t the Raiders record a killer version first? I know Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart wrote the theme song to Where the Action Is! so they were in the Raiders’ orbit…
Mark: We listened to a lot of Kinks, a lot of Animals, of course Beatles and Stones, but Terry Melcher kind of saw us as somewhere between The Kinks and The Rolling Stones. He looked for material in that ilk, and I think he asked for that kind of thing from the writers and we got “Steppin’ Stone,” which we cut right after “Just Like Me.” We were ready to release “Steppin’ Stone” and “Kicks” came in the mail, so we liked that a lot. We cut that, and I remember Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, we saw them at Whisky a Go Go and they said ‘When’s ‘Steppin’ Stone’ comin’ out?’ and Terry said ‘Well, you know, we got this new record in ‘Kicks’ we just cut, we’re gonna release that, and ‘Steppin’ Stone’ will be our next single.’ Of course, this really infuriated Tommy and Bobby, so they took our ‘Steppin’ Stone’ acetate that we’d cut – and gave them a copy of – over to The Monkees and said ‘Here’s a demo of our new song.’ That’s why if you listen to The Monkees’ version, Mickey’s doing all my ad libs, it’s very close to the Raiders’ version, because they thought that was the demo.
So you go with “Kicks,” and it becomes a #4 hit. There’s also a lot more dynamics coming in with the sound, the whole Midnight Ride album is really something because of that. You guys are still rockin’ to the mothership, so to speak, but there is… well of course Terry Melcher is also producing The Byrds around this time, who are really changing the face of Pop music, bringing in some of the very first psychedelic sounds. So you get these rockers on there like “Always Tomorrow” (written by Mike Smith and Drake Levin,) a guitar/organ re-make of the previously sax-driven “Louie Go Home,” “I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone”… this is really a great album with a lot of audio depth, plus the cover photo is a really interesting Guy Webster shot. Even just the intro of “Kicks” speaks fathoms as to this sort-of Brave New World of Sound…
Mark: ‘Kicks’ was the first more or less outside song, the demo, I wish I had a copy of the demo of ‘Kicks’ and be able to hear it, but I think the bass line was there, the lead line (intro), that was there, though I think it was done on the piano at the time, but the song was pretty much sketched out. Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil were pretty crafty writers, and when they did the demos, all the important music, and licks, they’d lay out, so it was so obvious, you couldn’t miss it. With the melody and the lyrics and the message, and all the great riffs that were laid into the song, it was just kind of a natural, a real easy production to do. Again you have all the electronic acoustics that are built in to CBS Records on Sunset, which we had the advantage of using. To that extent, I think we were luckier than a lot of rock ’n’ roll bands who might have cut in lesser studios and maybe didn’t have the advantage of really using the dynamics to the fullest. We had the advantage of going all the way from full stop to real soft and still having it be able to be heard, crystal clear, so we were very lucky in that respect.
Paul: It got planted, it got watered, it got nurtured, we made all the right decisions. We got lucky, lucky, lucky. That’s the one thing that no one should leave out of their story, whether they’re a movie star, television star, recording star, there’s a huge thing called ‘luck,’ and if you’re in the right place at the right time, and take advantage of it, that’s the deal. I don’t care how good you are, I don’t care how great the band is, how great your singer is, I don’t care how great the songs are, if you don’t get ‘em out on the right label, and they don’t get played on the right station, you don’t get involved with the right people, you could spend the rest of your life spinnin’ your wheels, and ending up being nobody… because I know a lot of acts that sure as hell didn’t deserve to be stars, and I know a lot of acts that sure as hell should have been, so that’s the way I look at it, a lot of luck involved.
So it’s really prime time now for Paul Revere & the Raiders: Los Angeles is teeming with creativity in the Sunset Strip nightclubs, and with its Pop art scene on La Cienega. The Beatles’ huge audience shares from their Ed Sullivan Show appearances have sent network television into overdrive, and the TV studios in Hollywood are cranking out things like Shindig!, Shivaree, Hollywood a Go Go, Boss City, Shebang, The Lloyd Thaxton Show… even American Bandstand… and the Raiders are right in the pocket, basically established as the stars of Where The Action Is! which is featuring everyone from James Brown to The Kinks and The 13th Floor Elevators. “Hungry,” with its buzzing fuzztone drama, becomes the second Raiders record in a row to hit the top ten, this time charting at #6…
Mark: We cut the track, we were having a hard time getting it. We had a demo from Barry and Cynthia as a follow-up to ‘Kicks,’ and it was really, it was much more powerful record than ‘Kicks,’ it was about really wanting something. ‘Kicks’ was written as a cautionary tale for Gerry Goffin (of the Goffin/King songwriting combination) because at that point in time, apparently Gerry was getting into some really hard core drugs. Barry and Cynthia wrote that because they knew Carole King and Gerry Goffin very well, and they wrote it as kind of like a warning to Gerry, like, ‘Wake up.’ It wasn’t to any girl, it was written for Gerry. But after that, ‘Hungry’ was more of a pleading, like, ‘Here, I’ve gotta have this, here’s what I want.’ I certainly identified with it, like, wanting a ‘special place up high, with an unlisted phone’… even though I left that lyric out. I changed it to ‘place up high were we can stay alone.’ The first take on that was ‘A special place up high where we can both stay stoned.’ CBS wasn’t gonna go for that after ‘Kicks.’
We were having a hard time getting that single, and I remember we went upstairs, I was on the roof of CBS Records and passed around the herbal cigarette, and went down and got it in one take, the track. Then the next day I came in to do the vocals, and the track was so driving and so raw and energetic, I ended up doing take after take, and as I did more and more takes, I kept getting hotter and hotter. So I kept taking more and more clothes off until finally, I was down to my shorts. I did a take that was almost there and I said ,‘O.k., screw it, here we go.’ So I just got totally naked, and I said ‘O.k., look, Terry, you and the engineer, just start the tape and leave the room and come back when the tape’s over.’ I don’t know whether they left the booth or not, because I had a screen in front of me, but I did that take you hear on the record totally naked, just screaming, just emoting. When it was over, I had no idea what it was, what had happened, just total out of body experience almost… but we played it back and it was all there, it was all totally raw emotion.
Did you tell any of the teenage magazines this story?
Mark: Ha ha, no, I don’t think I told ’em I cut the song in the nude… or that we smoked a joint to kind of loosen up before… we were just part of the whole program, but we had a pretty spiffy image at that point in time.
It must have been pretty hard work, you know, this is a rock ‘n’ roll band on fire, and yet, Where The Action Is! is on television at 4:30 every day, after school (following the Dick Clark-produced teenage soap opera Never Too Young starring Tony Dow, featuring bands like The Castaways, then, the early episodes of Dark Shadows). However much the teenagers were rocking to Paul Revere & the Raiders on the radio, this is also reaching little kids just coming home from school with their knapsacks, white bread peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and milk with Bosco in it.
Paul: When it came to publicity, Roger Hart and I took advantage of every time we had a little stroke of luck. We just took it to the next step, and then once you start makin’ it, you gotta hire a publicist, you gotta hire somebody that makes sure that you got all the pictures in the teen magazines, you gotta hire your own photographer, so that you can have a million pictures taken, and you go through ‘em, and you throw away all the bad ones. Nothin’ worse than having an ugly picture being printed of you, so I made sure that I burned and cut up any picture that was not flattering to every member of the band. So I threw away, out of every thousand pictures that were taken, I might have only kept twenty, and those pictures were distributed out to the teen magazines. Of course, they printed up the most flattering pictures they had of the group, so I ended up having what teenagers thought was a very handsome, nice looking bunch of boys, so they all became teen idols. You just had to be careful, take advantage of what you got, don’t let shit out there that can hurt you in any way. So you gotta control it. You gotta have a publicist in New York and you gotta have a publicist in California. You gotta make sure the pictures and the stories that are distributed to all these teen magazines, that they go across your desk, and you know that it’s something that you approve of, and it’s not going to be a detriment.
Watching old episodes of Where The Action Is!, the thing that stands out are all the great tunes you recorded for the show that were never released on any of your albums… assembling them in my mind, it becomes like The Beatles At The Beeb or something like that. Paul Revere & the Raiders at this stage of the game had mastered so many different kinds of early rock ‘n’ roll, plus the mid-’60s kind as well.
Mark: Those were done at Armen Steiner’s studio, and we went in and produced them ourselves. They were… If you could get a good audio copy of that stuff, it sounds incredible. Armen had a three-track machine, stereo machines, and then he had a three-track Ampex that was… his partner was an electronic genius. He made this electronic delay network that basically… when different frequencies of electrons go through wires and electronic devices, there’s a phase shift and some frequencies go through faster than others. He built this network that compensated for that phase shift. So when it plays back, everything was really in phase, much more so than RCA, CBS, any of the majors, he had actually better equipment. He didn’t have as much of it, but he had a better sounding tape machine than any of the majors did, and that early Action! stuff, I would love to have a copy of that stuff because it sounded incredible. It was an exceptional studio, they were just small rooms, he had like, two rooms and then the main control room, but it really worked. Those tapes are, they were all pretty much first takes, there was a rawness and a live-ness and just an urgency about those things, and the sound was so incredible that I think they might be worth hearing. We were doin’ our best and on that, I have to say the Raiders played everything, there’s not a studio musician in sight, and they did a great job.
When I hear “The Great Airplane Strike” it reminds me of great mid-’60s Rolling Stones records like “Mother’s Little Helper.” It’s an interesting record, and managed to hit #20 on the charts.
Mark: That was about the time we started using guys from the Wrecking Crew, and Raiders are interspersed here and there among the records, even after the basic track was covered. The Wrecking Crew, Terry started doing that because we were on the road at that point in time about 200 nights a year, and we needed a plethora of songs. CBS was calling for a giant output from the Raiders and we just didn’t have time to produce it in the studio at that time. So, Terry would cut basic tracks with studio musicians, and then he’d bring in the other guys. I was present at every recording session that we ever did for the Raiders with the exception of ‘I Had A Dream,’ which Terry started when I was still on the road. The Raiders played on everything exclusively up until ‘Good Thing.’ I think after ‘Good Thing,’ then it starts becoming a mix. Terry liked working with Hal Blaine and Larry Knechtel and Joe Osborn.
‘The Great Airplane Strike’ was the first time we used the drummer Jim Gordon. He was the husband of Jill Gordon who was one of the dancers on Where The Action Is! She asked me one day ‘Do you guys ever use studio musicians?’ So I said ‘Well, once in a while.’ She said ‘Well, my husband is on tour with The Everly Brothers in England, but he’s coming home next week, and if you could maybe use him, try him in the studio, it’ll be great.’ So I think I was the first guy to use Jim in the studio in L.A., and he was so fantastic that, you know, ‘gotta spread the word.’ It didn’t take very long, everybody that he played for said the same thing, pretty soon he was one of the premier drummers. He was the best studio drummer I ever worked with. He had a real soft technique, I’m not sure how well he would have worked on the road with the Raiders, but in the studio he was just absolutely the best, had an incredible groove.
On the cover of the album Spirit of ’67 we see that Drake Levin has been replaced by Jim Valley, who was nicknamed “Harpo” because of his resemblance to the Marx Brother. Jim was a talented guy, back in the Pacific Northwest he’d written “Little Sally Tease” as a member of Don & the Goodtimes, later famously covered by The Standells. Drake only left because of the draft (March, 1966), which is very unfortunate, but his entry into the National Guard makes him available for The Spirit of ’67 sessions. Jim wound up being a memorable personality, despite his short twelve months with the group.
Mark: Jim Valley really never played, I think he played on one record, I can’t remember what that was, he came in kind of late. He wasn’t there that long, he was on the TV appearances but we really didn’t utilize him much in recordings and I think that kind of bent him out of shape, as well. At that point in time, Terry was using a little more studio musicians, and Jim kind of came in at the tail end of that.
“Good Thing” is the next single, as you mentioned one of the last that instrumentally uses the Raiders as seen on Where The Action Is! With its “Good Vibrations” type harmony, it goes to #4 on the charts… a testament to the group in some respects, and in another, the song itself is also Raider-generated.
Mark: After ‘Kicks’ came in, we got ‘Hungry’ from the same writers, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. I was writing a lot of album cuts, with and without Terry at that time. After ‘Hungry’ we were sitting around the house one day, and Terry said ‘You know, I think we could write a single if we just put our minds to it.’ So that’s when we came up with ‘Good Thing’ and then we… that started a kind of run of Melcher/Lindsay productions and tunes.
This songwriting collaboration followed for the next single “Ups and Downs,” released in March of 1967, just before Where The Action Is! was canceled (March 31, 1967) to be replaced by a new show called The Dating Game. The record went to #22 on the charts.
Mark: On ‘Ups and Downs’ I believe it was Joe Osborn, Hal Blaine, a lot of that stuff Terry would play the keyboard himself and overdub them later, Drake may have come in and done a guitar thing.
I recall reading a ’60s teen magazine blurb empathizing with the disappointed kids when the TV show got canceled. It mentioned the cost behind Where The Action Is!, considering that Dick Clark, every day of the week, had remotes set up at somewhere like The Roostertail club on Lake Michigan in Detroit for The Four Tops, then he’d cut to the East River looking toward the skyline of New York for Lesley Gore, just as suddenly, you’d be at a park somewhere down south with Bryan Hyland, then switched over live to Pacific Ocean Park in L.A. for The Knickerbockers lolling about in the entrance pool… this was a pretty ambitious show for a daytime slot.
Mark: After almost three years, ABC wanted to do something else in that time slot, maybe they thought the ratings weren’t happening enough, maybe they thought the show wasn’t as fresh as it once had been, because it was pretty much the same thing, for whatever reason they said, ‘O.k., we’re gonna cancel it.’ It’s Happening came along as a result of us badgering ABC ‘Look how much impact the Raiders had on Where The Action Is!‘… they could probably do like a weekly show or something, and so I think Roger Hart helped pitch that, they listened, they gave us a slot (early Saturday afternoons in the fall of 1967 at 1:30 after American Bandstand for a half hour) and we did pretty well with it.
The cancellation of Action! didn’t slow the momentum of hits, however, because with “Him Or Me – What’s It Gonna Be?,” the Mark Lindsay/Terry Melcher songwriting partnership comes up with one of the group’s most memorable records, and a #5 hit. In fact, every song on the next album will be written by Mark Lindsay/Terry Melcher, including the tripped-out follow-up “I Had A Dream” which went to #17.
Mark: Terry was really expanding his horizons. On that, he used three drummers, Jim Gordon, Hal Blaine and Jim Keltner. He had about four different guitar players, including Glen Campbell, Ry Cooder (he was all over that) and from ‘Him Or Me,’ it kind of got into that real funky country blues rock ’n’ roll marriage.
Best example of Terry’s expansion,“Gone – Movin’ On,” which sounds like Phil Spector producing Paul Revere & the Raiders. At this juncture, there is a major shift in the band’s lineup… Jim Valley had joined after Drake was drafted, but in general there is an unsteady lineup for a while, and then… all four of those guys… Drake, Jim, Phil and Mike… gone.
Mark: They weren’t on ‘Him Or Me’… that was the problem.
It was probably shortly after ‘Him Or Me – What’s It Gonna Be?’… and because they’d had two or three records that they weren’t used on. You know, I went to them and explained ‘Look guys, its strictly an economic thing, Terry, he only has so much time to produce the Raiders, and we only have so much time in town, and quite frankly, we’re just not fast enough.’ Drake and Phil were a little more skilled. Smitty was a great drummer, but he wasn’t tremendously versatile and he couldn’t take direction. Even if you said ‘O.k., Smitty, on bar 42 I want you to do a two-bar roll, and then go into ¾ time for another four bars, and then come back into four’… he didn’t know what that meant, so Terry just started using session guys. It was basically a communication and a skill-level thing. It was partially that, and partially that everybody, after the Raiders started having success, I was writing a lot of the album cuts, and everybody was submitting, mainly Phil and Drake would write stuff, and submit it, but it was strictly up to Terry, he was the guy who would put stuff on the record or not. Whether or not he co-wrote it, or I wrote it or whatever, I think he put on what he thought would fill the album well, and as far as the singles went, he went with what he thought was most commercial, obviously. That was his stock-in-trade, he was the producer and he had to have a hit. But the guys took it personally, and Phil’s not a bad writer, and neither is Drake, but they weren’t perhaps as commercial as maybe I was or I was with Terry.
It’s a pretty common thing in those days, I recall hearing how another Pacific Northwest group, The Ventures, toured so often that many of their albums in the second half of the ’60s also featured studio guys, and that was a group where, a good part of their following was learning from the individual personalities as instrumentalists. But even the Raiders next single “I Had A Dream”… you were not at the tracking session of a song you helped to write.
Mark: That was all studio guys. Since I wasn’t on the original session, I can’t tell ya who was on it. When Terry and I would write, we’d usually come up with a chorus, or maybe just a hook. Then Terry would lose interest, and I’d go ahead and finish it, but I came up with this chorus ‘I Had A Dream’ – there were no verses or anything. When I came in the studio, I quickly filled in the blanks. Usually, the way Terry did it, and the way I did it later, was we’d finish the whole track, and kind of hear what the finished product would sound like in your head, and go toward that, and put the vocal on very last. But as the song fleshed itself out, it would kind of inspire me in other ways. Several times, I re-wrote the lyrics entirely about ten minutes before I did the vocal, because the track was leading me a different way, slightly.
On the April, 1967 Ed Sullivan Show appearance by Paul Revere & the Raiders, we see Freddy Weller on guitar, Jim’s gone. Drake had flown in, but wound up off to the side of the stage not performing but instead, showing new guitarist Freddy his parts before the show. It’s the last time we see Mike Smith (Smitty) and Phil Volk (Fang) in the band as well.
PAUL: Smitty, Drake and Phil, all three decided to go off and do their own thing called The Brotherhood, and so that left just me and Mark. I beat the bushes and we came up with what I thought were some great musicians, so we wouldn’t skip a beat. We got Freddy Weller on guitar, a very handsome kid from Atlanta who we got to know as a back up guitar player at that time for Billy Joe Royal (Freddy played on ‘Down In The Boondocks’) and later, he wrote hits with Tommy Roe. Picked him up, got another guy to replace Smitty as a drummer, Joe Correro Jr. was his name. Joe Jr. was a great drummer with a band out of Memphis, got him, got a bass player, Charlie Coe, who was an old friend out of Idaho who used to play guitar with the Raiders, but we put him on bass. Changes just kept happening over the years.
Mark: The new guys were probably shot for the Revolution! cover just before the album came out.
For a minute there, you lose the television show, then that cool Pacific Northwest guitar, bass and drums trio. Outta nowhere, this very rudimentary… but color videotape from 1967 shows up on the collector trail, with Mark, Paul, Freddy, Joe Jr. and Charlie performing as the new Paul Revere & the Raiders.
Mark: I think that resulted in It’s Happening actually, and It’s Happening was a Dick Clark Production as well. That pilot, I think Dick kind of let us… he did that as a special. He had a contract with ABC, he had X amount of hours of material for them, and he chose to do a half-hour special, and then pitch that as a pilot for a weekly show with ABC. They jumped at it. I’m sure that the hard-core fans didn’t take it lightly that their favorite show was leaving, so they were trying to placate them.
Well, It’s Happening and the follow-ups Happening ’68 and Happening! (the title “Happening ’69” was not allowed by ABC-TV) look incredible, in retrospect. It begins in late ’67 as It’s Happening, and there is a tremendous amount of COLOUR in the production. There were brand new psychedelic posters all over the walls, the logo is kind of like The Dating Game but set inside a multi-colored swirl in the center of the stage. It is pretty hip, I mean images of Ravi Shankar, a poster from The Family Dog in San Francisco… it’s completely different from Where The Action Is! in many respects, shot inside, but a hell of a lot of fun. There were great musical guests, and even some very obscure garage bands got on there, like The Split Ends who had the punker “Rich With Nothin’.”
Mark: ABC came over, they said ‘We’ll kind of do it like a variety show, we’ll have a Battle of the Bands, we’ll have a couple of numbers, and we’ll have a fashion show.’ They were kind of like, really catering to that teen magazine audience. They kind of set it up that way, and we said ‘Sure,’ because we knew if we had a venue, and we had a platform, we could premiere our latest releases and just kind of continue with it, and that’s kind of how it worked. We didn’t really have anything to do with the writing of the show, but we could suggest certain things to ABC, and sometimes they went with it and sometimes they wouldn’t. We had Wilson Pickett coming on, and he canceled when he found out that he couldn’t play live. So I went to the powers that be at ABC and said ‘Look, Wilson Pickett is an icon, we have to have him, you have to bend the rules and let the man play live.’ Finally we convinced them to do that, and he’s one of the only performers that played on It’s Happening that performed live. We might have suggested acts to them, but their production company pretty much got who was hot on the charts, and who they could get cheaply.
1968 was an election year, and you interviewed then-Vice President Hubert Humphrey on Happening ’68…
Mark: Oh yeah, I’m wearing a lime-green Nehru suit.
Humphrey came on the show, and you know, Nehru suits were only popular for about two weeks, and I was wearing this lime-green Nehru suit with these love beads. Hubert comes on, I’m interviewing him, and he says ‘You know, I love that suit, Mark, gosh, I’d like one like that myself.’ You know, this guy’s really bullshit, he’ll be a perfect president. It was very interesting. I got to interview Leonard Nimoy, Carol Burnett, Sally Field, just kind of, who was around at that point in time, it was fun.
The Raiders fall, 1967 single “Peace Of Mind” (#42) sounds a little ahead of its time, with the gal background singers, it’s almost a Glam-era kind of thing. It appears on the Goin’ To Memphis album.
Mark: That was a song Terry and I had written for the Christmas album, and we liked it and it became a single. It was actually cut in Hollywood at Columbia/CBS on Sunset Boulevard. Then I went to Memphis and recorded with Chip Moman’s Memphis band. That was very interesting. We had an album to do, and I had no songs. I booked a room at the Holiday Inn and they said ‘We have a suite, James Brown just left, would you like to try the suite,?’ I went up and looked at it, and there’s this great white piano in there, and I said ‘Sure.’ So I sat there and looked at the Mississippi River. In about 24 hours, came up with three songs, and then after that, every day I’d go home and write another song for the session the next day.
That’s some pretty nice animation on the album cover…
At the time we were kinda hooked up with DePatie-Freleng (The Pink Panther, Dr. Suess) who actually did that cover for the Goin’ To Memphis album. That cover was a prototype for a cartoon pilot that was going to star the Raiders. No episodes were ever done, it never reached fruition, but we were hanging around the Valley and somehow, we hooked up with George Barris, because I had gone to him… I had a Rolls Royce Phantom V that I had customized. So we met Barris, and somehow, Paul and I were sitting around talking to George, and we were talking about various things and George said ‘You know, you guys should have your own automobile, a Raider Coach,’ so that’s where The Raider Coach was born. We paid for it (85 thousand dollars, according to George Barris’ book Barris TV and Movie Cars), but then again it was O.K. because we were going to make so much money on the showing of the coach. It’s just amazing, after all the car shows and auto expositions, the flat tires, and gas, and everything else, the road expenses kind of ate up the profits. We did a photo session with it, but basically, we saw the car, maybe once or twice. It did get made into a model kit by MPC. It was a different culture then. Hot Rods were big, and this was a real special kind of Hot Rod.
It’s pretty impressive to see a studio picture of Issac Hayes and David Porter on the back cover of Goin’ To Memphis, with liner note blurbs by them, and Rufus Thomas. Two of my favorite songs during this time, are of course, “Theme from ‘It’s Happening’” and “Happening ’68.”
Mark: That was cut in Memphis with Chip’s band. We cut it, actually, there’s two versions of it. One I cut in L.A., then I cut a longer version of it in Memphis with those guys to use as buffer music. Everybody took a solo, and I think the thing is like four, or five, or six minutes long in its entirety. We cut it up and used it as buffer music. We already had an intro, I wanted an outro as well.
1967 saw about a ton of shakeups and changes for the Raiders, but they weren’t over yet. You are the producer, and writer of the next single “Too Much Talk” which shoots the group back up to #19 on the charts in early 1968.
Mark: After ‘I Had A Dream,’ Terry went to Majorca, Spain with his current girlfriend, who I believe was Claudia Martin. We needed a single, and Columbia was calling Terry and saying ‘You gotta come back, the Raiders need a single, ya gotta come back.’ He said ‘No, no, I’m on vacation, I’ll be back when I get there.’ So Columbia came to me and said ‘Look, can you produce a single for the Raiders,’ and I said ‘Well, I don’t know, I’ve been working with Terry in the studio and I kind of know how it goes, but I’ve never done it myself.’ They said ‘Will you give it a try?’ So I called Terry, said ‘Terry you gotta come back, they want me to do the single,’ he said ‘No, no, I’m not coming back,’ so I went in and did ‘Too Much Talk.’ It worked; it never got played that much in L.A. or New York but it still charted I think #11 in Cash Box (#19 in Billboard). After that, Terry came back and he was really ticked off, and I said ‘Well, you know, c’mon let’s work together’ and he wouldn’t do it. He said ‘No, that’s it. You take over, I’m done.’ And unfortunately, again, I had some hits after that, including ‘Indian Reservation,’ but I really was much better as a collaborator than as a solo producer.
If I had a time machine, I’d go back and insist that Terry work with me, or I work with Terry and continue to co-produce the Raiders. He was a great sounding board, remember we wrote songs, I probably did three-fourths of the writing, but he was a great editor. He and I did probably three-fourths of the backgrounds, our voices just worked really well together, and I would have lived in the studio if you’d have given me a cot. I came back from the road, I headed immediately to the studio, and I was either on the road, playing, filming a television show or in the studio. I really had no other life, and I didn’t really care to at that point in time.
You seemed to have handled it pretty well, Mark. The next single “Don’t Take It So Hard” (#27) still cracks the top 30.
Mark: I was making a record as close as I thought to what Terry would have been at this time. Since I knew Terry wasn’t coming back, that was apparent, so I went in with the idea ‘If Terry were here, and I were working with him, what would we come up with?’ I came up with ‘Don’t Take It So Hard,’ which I thought sounded a lot like a Melcher/Lindsay composition, even though Terry wasn’t part of it. But I think if I would have mixed it a little more bold, the vocal is mixed down a little too far, background vocals are down a little too far, the organ’s down a little to far, I didn’t really push… Terry would exaggerate things in the mix, and I didn’t exaggerate things as much as I should have. I think if I’d have mixed that song the correct way, it would have maybe charted ten points higher, that’s retrospect. I think it’s a great song, it’s one of the great lost records, but unfortunately, it was lost, because the mix wasn’t as good as the record was, and I take full responsibility, and blame for that, and I’m sorry.
“Too Much Talk,” “Don’t Take It So Hard” and “Happening ’68” appear on the Something’s Happening album, another one that’s held up well over the years.
Mark: I think we were kind of delving into psychedelia there, the effects we were putting on the records, and the tunes were kind of dreamy, kind of like… hookah-smoking caterpillars. There’s some interesting cuts, I was just trying to make a real listenable album at that time.
Well that would describe the trippage back to back on “Burn Like A Candle” and “Observation From Flight 285.” “Communication” is Psychedelic Power Pop. “The Good Times” is this celestial thing. In some respect, I don’t think it’s like the Raiders are jumping on the psychedelic bandwagon in 1968, because already back in early 1966 the Midnight Ride album is proto-psychedelic in tone. The Memphis Soul touches are real. In fact, I like the next single “Cinderella Sunshine” (from Hard ’n’ Heavy (With Marshmallow)) a whole lot, with its vibraphone and Sunshine Pop feel. It’s a great record, despite its #58 position being the lowest chart placing for the Raiders since 1964.
Mark: It’s good time rock ’n’ roll, and it is rock ’n’ roll.
The same can be said for “Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon” which put you back in the top 20, at #18.
Mark: When we got to Hard ’n’ Heavy (With Marshmallow), that was when I began using more Keith Allison, Joe Correro Jr. and Freddy Weller, again using the actual members of the group. I was trying to make it as cohesive as possible, and utilize what we had. I thought Joe Jr. was one of the greatest drummers in the world, Keith Allison (who’d replaced Charlie Coe) was a great bass player in the Joe Osborn tradition, and he played great rhythm guitar and some piano and harmonica as well. Freddy Weller played lead guitar so, utilizing those guys, I tried to use the core of the Raiders as much as possible, and we came up with ‘Cinderella Sunshine’ and ‘Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon.’ By this time I was writing some of the things with Keith Allison.
It’s kind of an unusual time, 1968, I like to think of it as the “pastiche” era because so many different things were going on. The Beatles adorn a Baker Street building with psychedelic art for their Apple Boutique, and announce these supremely egalitarian concepts for their new business. Overlooked in generic rock histories, of course, there in also a lot of happy, buoyant Pop group sounds around, as well as the “heavy” music. In truth, it was really all part of a very optimistic Pop culture, at least at the beginning of the year. Again, mixing colors in a beautiful way was the elixir of the moment. Though Terry did great things with the Raiders, the music on Something’s Happening and Hard ’n’ Heavy (With Marshmallow) is rockin’ , but also, floating.
Mark: Also you’ve got to realize that at CBS, they had studio A, studio B, then after they had studio B and E and F, and one time, I was walking at CBS, we were cutting in F, The Byrds were in A, Janis Joplin was in there, The Association was cutting a track, Sly & the Family Stone were in F and I literally bumped into Bob Dylan in the commissary. I thought ‘Geez, if a bomb drops on CBS Records today, it’s going to destroy a lot of rock ’n’ roll.’
You walked down the hall at CBS you hear Janis Joplin, you hear The Byrds, there was this great spillover of influence and talent that kind of went into everything. That’s one of the reasons that Drake used a 12-string guitar on ‘Kicks,’ because we’d sat in a couple of Byrds sessions and watched Roger (then Jim, of course) play. Drake was really intrigued by the sound of the 12-string, so he actually got a Rickenbacker just like Jim’s to play on the record. So we were influenced by what was going on around us, not only through 45s we were hearing on the air, but what was actually going down at CBS Records. We were very lucky to be surrounded by such a great crew of a bunch of talented people.
The group is this consistent hitmaking entity, and Paul Revere & the Raiders become an ubiquitous, in-demand Pop group on prime-time television. There’s an appearance on Batman, an ad the Raiders did for a Pontiac car called “The Judge”… which reminds me, in ’67 with Terry there was the Chevy promotional single “SS-396” b/w “Corvair Baby” which was given out at auto dealerships. Can you recall some of the television Variety shows the Raiders were on during that era?
Mark: We did The Ed Sullivan Show, Hollywood Palace, we did The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Bob Hope special, Lucille Ball special, Red Skelton, Carol Burnett, pretty much the gamut. As a matter of fact we did almost … with Action!, Happening!and all the other network appearances we did, almost a thousand television shows, which makes us probably the most televised American band of that period, for sure.
I saw a cool, albeit lip-synced performance of “Let Me” from a British television show called Live At The Marquee Club… how often did you get over to Europe, and what was the reaction to the band there?
Mark: We did go to Europe, a couple of times. We went on a promo tour, and then we went opening a couple of times for The Beach Boys, in ’68, and then again in around ’69/’70. We had great success in Germany. It was mainly a tour of Western Europe, but in England, the papers all wrote us up as knock-off of the Stones, which at the time I thought was a great compliment. However, that was the kiss of death in England, I think. We had some success in England, but our main success was in Germany and France and Italy… all the other outlying countries, but we didn’t really take the UK by storm.
Well, music was really changing a hell of a lot during the very late ’60s, and I imagine, since at the core Paul Revere & the Raiders are an actual rock ‘n’ roll group, still having hits, there’s this moment where it must have been tough to move ahead as a rock ‘n’ roll band and still reach the audience that recognized the established hitmaking sound. How did the next phase develop, it seems there is less emphasis on studio musicians at this juncture.
Mark: As far as Hard ’n’ Heavy (With Marshmallow) and Pink Puzz, we were touring a lot and because we were touring a lot, I really got to appreciate how good Joe Jr. was, and what a great bass player, and guitar player Keith was. Keith and I had started writing together… I think it was in Greenville, North Carolina before a show, we went out behind the Holiday Inn where we were staying, and sat down on an air conditioner. Keith had his Gibson guitar with him, and he strummed a G chord and suddenly I went ‘I was born in the Northwest, 20 odd years ago,’ and the lyrics just kind of spilled out. Keith played along, and in about five minutes we’d written ‘Freeborn Man,’ which has been covered by, I don’t know how many Country artists. I heard Bill Monroe play it on Grand Ol’ Opry one night and just about fell off my chair. As a matter of fact, if you ask a lot of people, to this day, they’ll say ‘Ah, ‘Freeborn Man,’ that’s that Bill Monroe song,’ but actually myself and Keith Allison wrote it. He’s from San Antonio, Texas. Of course, when we met him on Action!… he looked a lot like Paul McCartney in those days, and the producers of the show hired him, they found out he could sing, and had a great personality, so they kind of hired him to do what he did, as a Paul McCartney look-alike. Gradually we realized that the kid could play great bass and other things, and when we needed a bass player or a guitar player, he kind of oozed his way into the group. He was Ray Peterson’s guitar player (Ray’s hits were ‘Tell Laura I Love Her’ and ‘Corrina Corrina.’) Keith did a couple of years with Ray before he came to L.A.
When Freddy joined the group, he was Billy Joe Royal’s guitar player. We were playing some dates with Billy Joe, and we knew we were going to lose our previous guitar player, so we drafted Freddy into the job. He came, reluctantly because, he said, ‘Well, do you think you could get me a Country deal on CBS?’ and I said ‘Sure, of course we can’ without really checking it out first. I went in the studio and cut ‘Games People Play’ with Freddy, and it came out so well, it went to #8 on the Country charts. I told Columbia’s Nashville producer Billy Sherrill, ‘Look I really think you’ll do a better job than I will, so I’ll turn it over to you,’ and he gladly took it and did a couple of albums with Freddy.
Joe Jr. was from Greenwood, Mississippi and when we discovered him, there was a group called Flash & the Board of Directors that were out of Memphis, he was the drummer and they opened up for us, and I told Paul ‘That’s our next drummer, the guy is amazing.’ So we hired him and I think he was one of the best drummers the Raiders ever had. Joe Jr. came actually from more of an R&B background, from more of the Memphis side of it, the boy could play, he still can. He’s a great jazz drummer as well as, his skills don’t stop at rock ’n’ roll. If you listen to the drumming on ‘Let Me,’ it’s good… he played congas on that and the trap set, he’s really good.
Well this is one of the toughest records the Raiders cut with the new lineup, and it reaches #20 on the charts.
Mark: It was very quick, it went real well. I wrote the song in the shower (I was still living in Los Angeles) and I thought ‘You know, how could I write ‘I want to make love to you’ – I’m not going to use the four-letter word – how can I say that as directly as possible, without really saying ‘Let’s Fuck’?
So ‘Let Me’ came out, I wrote it in the shower and called the session the next day, went in, gave all the guys their parts, and it came out, because it was so quick, I think it came out kind of raw and kind of edgy, and it kinda worked.
This is also one of the funniest stories about how pretentious a lot of the attitudes were becoming in “rock” during the late ’60s, because “Let Me” started getting airplay on f.m. underground radio stations, only because it had been given to the disc jockeys under the fake band name “Pink Puzz.”
Mark: We gave them a couple of cuts off Alias Pink Puzz, and the promo guy went in and said ‘Hey man, there’s this new group on CBS, they live in Topanga, they’re filthy, they don’t bathe, and they don’t talk to people, they just do drugs and make music,’ and they thought ‘Oh great!’ So the record came in, they started playing it, and somebody… it was one of the first big f.m. stations out in the Valley in L.A., KPPC, or KPFK, they played it like, three or four times, and somebody called up and said, ‘hey, that’s Paul Revere & the Raiders,’ and they just took the record and threw it in the trash. Totally true. It wasn’t what was in the grooves, it was what was ‘perceived.’
This… does not stop you.
Mark: After Alias Pink Puzz, and how the underground stations turned off “Let Me,” I went in and decided I was going to totally change the direction of the Raiders, and the perception of the Raiders. We weren’t gonna be these silly guys jumping around in white tights and long coats, we were gonna get serious. And you have to realize at that point in time, the late ’60s, the Summer of Love was over, Haight Ashbury had gotten kind of nasty, unfortunately, and music was changing. It was getting a much harder edge, and a lot more kind of… ‘serious.’ So I decided I was gonna go all out and try to bring the Raiders ten years forward and plop ’em down in this new era. Most of the musicians I used on the album, I used some of the guys in the group, on some cuts, I used studio musicians as well, but I was just trying to expand the appeal of the group as it were. I worked my butt off, really put my heart and soul into it and unfortunately, it didn’t work. Collage still stands as a pretty interesting piece of work. I don’t think a lot of people have been exposed to it, but I’m still proud of it for what it is, I think it works, but it didn’t work for the Raiders at the time.
Well, the band had already been posing in casual psychedelic clothes for a couple of albums already, sort of evoking how The Beatles dressed in early ’68 or on the cover of Abbey Road. “Just Seventeen” from Collage is again, a very strong single, this time, however, charting at #50.
Mark: I think Collage was a step, kind of past ‘Let Me,’ like, if they don’t get this, let me just throw it in their face and not try to pretend it had anything to do with Paul Revere & the Raiders, just make an all-out screaming album and see what happens then. It wasn’t really an attempt to use Pink Puzz as a stepping off place, I was just jumping off into the deep water with Collage, that’s for sure.
There were a couple of times I asked Clive Davis for favors, and he did it. At one time I went in and, the name Paul Revere & the Raiders… Collage was a big departure, sonically, musically and visually, and we had decided to change the name of the group to The Raiders, just to streamline it like, The Young Rascals had just changed their name to The Rascals, so I went to Clive Davis and said ‘Look, we’re coming out with this new album… we’re taking a giant leap here,’ and he went along with it.
I went to Virginia Team who was one of the in house artists at CBS, and said ‘Look, the music on this is totally different, it doesn’t sound like Paul Revere & the Raiders. I don’t want the cover to look like Paul Revere & the Raiders, I don’t want to see a bunch of close-ups of smiling faces and starched collars and uniforms, I want it to really look like we’re in these times, and she did a great job.
On Collage, if you listen to the vocals, the lead vocals, it has really nothing to do with what might have come previously with the Raiders. As a matter of fact, on the cut ‘Dr. Fine,’ I was so into it at the time that the vocal, when it came out, it actually scared me, so I really mixed it back down in the mix, and I shouldn’t have, I should have put it forward. It was just so different to me, I thought it would scare people, it certainly scared me. It was certainly a departure. CBS got behind it, they put some great ads in, but it came out and regular Raider fans had no idea what it was all about, and the other, we’ll call ’em ‘hipper’ music fans that were into other bands thought ‘well, it’s Paul Revere & the Raiders, I mean how good could this be?’ So it kind of got lost somewhere in the middle.
I didn’t realize at the time, in some underground circles, a lot of people loved it. I have a friend from Canada, who said that he remembers in Canada, Collage was like thee album to get stoned and listen to. Collage was a cohesive effort, it was start to finish, one of those albums that was meant to be put on the first groove and play it through to the flip side. I stacked it that way, and wrote a lot of the stuff that way.
And yet, after so many top ten records, top twenty records, top thirty records had come and gone… it was right after this that The Raiders get their first #1. In fact, by this time you’d also had a #10 hit with the solo 45 “Arizona.”
Mark: At the time I was producing The Raiders, I wasn’t producing myself because it was really hard to be objective, Jerry Fuller was my producer, but Jack Gould called me into his office and said ‘I’ve got your follow-up single to ‘Arizona,’ and he played the J.D. Loudermilk composition ‘Indian Reservation (The Lament Of The Cherokee Reservation Indian).’ I said ‘Well, that’s cool, but that was just out by Don Farndon and I think it stiffed.’ He said, ‘Nah, it’s a big hit in England and your part Native American, right?’ I said ‘Yeah, a little bit,’ and he said ‘Well, listen, I really think this is right for you and you’d have a big smash on this.’ So he convinced me, and I went to Jerry and said ‘We have to do another single, they want to do another single,’ and he was in the middle of another project and said ‘I can’t, I’ve got deadlines, I can’t finish, can’t do it.’ So I went ahead and recorded it myself, it’s all studio musicians.
On my stuff, Jerry always used the Wrecking Crew, and Artie Butler or Al Capp, one of those arrangers that are big band. So I put a band together and went to Artie and had him to do the basic track, and then I got John D’Andrea and we overdubbed the strings. I was doing this all as a Mark Lindsay record, but when we got through with it, I loved the record, I thought it was the best thing I ever produced, but I was so close to it, I couldn’t really call it. Up to that point in time I was pretty good, I could call a chart record, and say ‘Well, this is going to be #20, or usually within five points, either way. But with ‘Indian Reservation,’ I really, truly thought it was going to be the biggest stiff the band had ever released, or, the biggest hit. I just really couldn’t call it, so I kind of like, covered my bet and went to Paul and said ‘Look, I’ve just cut this record for myself, we need a record for The Raiders, I’ve just cut ‘Birds of a Feather’ for The Raiders, I know ‘Birds of a Feather’ is going to be a Top 40 record, it’s not gonna be probably more than Top 30, if at all, but it’s a Top 40 record (it wound up hitting #23). I’ve just cut this thing ‘Indian Reservation’ for myself, and I don’t know what it’s gonna do, it could be huge, it could be a terrible stiff… but if you want to, we could put it out as The Raiders, and he said ‘O.k., fine’…and we did, and of course, the rest is history.
The Indian Reservation album is a lot less cohesive, it was mainly a bunch of tracks that I’d cut over the last year or so. When ‘Indian Reservation (The Lament Of The Cherokee Reservation Indian)’ was a hit, we needed an album right away, so we kind of pulled all the tracks that we had in the can and put it together, but it’s not really that cohesive. Of course ‘Indian Reservation’ is the giant record on there, nothing else even comes close, but they were just tracks that were sitting in the can because I didn’t think they were good enough to put out, but CBS needed an album, so we pulled it all together and released it. Most of the stuff was The Raiders, I’d find a song, go in and cut without really thinking who it was going to be for at that time. I was probably aiming more for The Raiders because Jerry Fuller was still my producer and I looked to him to produce my stuff.
“Indian Reservation (The Lament Of The Cherokee Reservation Indian)” and “Birds Of A Feather” are the last time The Raiders, or Paul Revere & the Raiders, make the top thirty. The next two singles “Country Wine” and “Powder Blue Mercedes Queen” hover in at the low 50s, and they lead off the next album. But it’s 1972 and popular music by now has made another tremendous shift after the end of the ’60s, with a.m. radio being filled with softer rock hits or the last few years of Soul music (through to about 1974)… f.m. airplay is apparently unavailable to The Raiders. Country Wine is the last Raiders album… singles on the group continue to be released on Columbia until 1976, but this really marks the end of a damn good run.
Mark: Country Wine, I was using The Raiders in the studio again, the Keith Allison, Joe Jr., Freddy Weller Raiders. Since Freddy was country and Keith was kind of country too, I wanted to use the guys, rather than the Wrecking Crew, who I’d used a lot. I’m gonna use the Raiders again and because they had a country bent, the music of Country Wine kind of got twisted that way. I decided to take the path of least resistance and see what I could get out of the guys playing it that way, so that’s kind of the reason why the flavor of that album is the way it is. We picked up a couple of members during the early ’70s for the road. Tony Peluso became a second guitarist, and a guy named Henry who I best remember as “Hank the Hump” was a second keyboardist during that last phase of The Raiders.
Thus ends the tale of this ever-shifting five-man combo that busted out of the Pacific Northwest with a regional hit on their first single “Beatnik Sticks,” rolled with the punches, changes… had a blast the entire time… and wound up being one of the great rock ’n’ roll bands of a pretty impressive decade called the 1960s. They may be “overlooked” by some, but there are those who know.
Domenic Priore, author of Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Last Stand in Hollywood (2007 Jawbone Press, foreword by Arthur Lee of Love)