Paul Revere & The Raiders - Biography
By Nick Castro
Paul Revere & the Raiders were one of the most popular groups of the 60's. Though their popularity was concentrated in the 60's–especially the latter half–they managed to find steady work to this day. Famous for their many television appearances, catchy pop hooks, garage style guitar riffs and most of all, their colonial era costumes. They had over 20 hits in the first 17 years of their career. Some of their more well known songs are, "Just Like Me", "Hungry", "Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)", "Kicks", and "Let Me". Their level of popularity today is disproportionately low when compared to their ranking in the 60's, which placed them next to the biggest rock names of the day, including the Beatles and Bob Dylan.
Paul Revere & the Raiders had their earliest roots in the late 50's, when a teenage Revere, born Paul Revere Dick, had formed a group, The Downbeats, to promote a restaurant he owned. Soon after the group's inception, singer Mark Lindsay asked to join the group and the nucleus of what was to be the Raiders was formed. The band recorded their first song, "Beatnik Sticks", in 1960 at a radio station in Idaho. Revere, already an aggressive entrepreneur, felt that the song was strong enough to use as a demo and he soon departed for Hollywood in hopes of finding a recording contract for his group. His persistence paid off and he found a small deal with Gardena Records, which led to the release of the first single by the group, who had recently changed their name to Paul Revere & The Raiders. They followed with a second single, "Paul Revere's Ride", but neither record served to catapult the band to fame. They did, however, create a bit of excitement regionally for the group and led to their third single, "Like Long Hair", which would bring them their first real taste of success and top 40 fame.
Gardena Records quickly followed up on the success of the single with Paul Revere and the Raiders' first album, Like Long Hair (1961 - Gardena Records), which borrowed its name from the single in question. The album was mainly comprised of instrumentals and boogie woogie versions of popular songs, like, "Summertime". Though it is a strong record in itself, it bared hardly a resemblance to their later works.
Unfortunately, just as Paul Revere & The Raiders seemed ready to conquer the world, Revere received his draft notice and had to leave the band, who went on to tour with Leon Russell in his stead. Revere managed to avoid deployment by filing as a conscientious objector, which was granted to him by the military, and he instead served his duties as a cook at a Mental Hospital in Portland, Oregon. Soon, Revere had arranged a new line up for his band, and they donned colonial era costumes, to fit their image to their name. They quickly gained a strong following in the Oregon and Washington regions, and they recorded a version of the song, "Louie Louie", which got them a deal with Columbia records, who felt they could sell the song. Columbia rereleased the song, which had already been featured on the band's self released album, Paul Revere and the Raiders (1963 - Sande), but sadly for the group, the Kingsmen were already charting with their version of the song, knocking Paul Revere and the Raiders off the charts. Regardless, the Raiders were already making their mark and by 1965 were appearing regularly on television shows like Where the Action Is, where they were hired by Dick Clark as the house band for the show, and American Bandstand. Their appearance on the Dick Clark television show forced their label, Columbia, to finally release the album Here They Come! (1965 - Columbia), which was mainly comprised of popular covers done in an r&b garage style. They did songs like, "Money", "Ooh Poo Pah Doo", and, "Fever".
Soon, the Raiders released the songs, "Steppin' Out" and, "Just Like Me", both of which were huge successes for the group. That same year, 1965, they all moved their operation back to Los Angeles, where they had scored their first record deal, and released the album Just Like Us! (1965 - Columbia), which was produced by Terry Melcher, who was later to be targeted by the Manson Family, and featured songs like "Baby Please Don't Go", and, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". The album was a huge success, riding on the wave of fame brought on by their many television appearances and magazine articles. Columbia quickly released their next albums, Midnight Ride (1966 - Columbia) and The Spirit of '67 (1966 - Columbia). Both records were instant classics and quickly went gold. The latter album sees the group trying to compete in the increasingly artistic world of rock music, even going as far as to incorporate orchestration and psychedelic imagery into their repertoire.
During this period of the Radiers' career, they could do no wrong and were releasing one top ten hit after another. By 1967 they were developing a new style of pop music and released the album Revolution! (1967 - Columbia), which took the experimentations of their recent albums even further. It was also during this time though that the group was undergoing many personnel changes due to unsettled emotions caused by their quick rise to fame, constant use of session musicians on the recordings and teeny bopper directions. The group continued though and maintained their status as hit makers for a little while longer, though their popularity was soon to change with the tides of culture at the time.
By the end of the 60's, Paul Revere and the Raiders were barely noticed, though they scored some lukewarm success with their song "Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon". In 1971, when their careers seemed over, they had an unlikely number one hit with the song, "Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)". The band though, would soon be relegated to play lounges and fairs, rather than the big stadiums they had grown accustomed to filling.
Through to the 90's, Paul Revere and the Raiders have continued to work regularly, often doing revival circuits with other theme acts of the 60's. By 2007 they were inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame.