The Fabulous Ride of Paul Revere and the Raiders

 Posted by on June 19, 2013 at 6:19 am  Retro
Jun 192013

prr8It happened so quickly that if you weren’t paying close attention you could have missed it–or if you weren’t 14 years old like Sally Draper in 1968 it would have been meaningless–but there it was–a seemingly innocuous throwaway buried in the dialogue of Favors uttered by Sally’s friend Julie (that-little-player-in-the-making): “You’re living with Mark Lindsay”!

I’ve been waiting to see if Mad Men would pick up on this unique cultural reference–and to those of us who were the same age as Sally in 1968, it’s literally music to the ears.

For those of you who were either in diapers back then or still just a gleam in their parents’ eyes, Mark Lindsay was the lead singer of Paul Revere (yes that was his real name) and the Raiders, a popular party band from the Pacific Northwest, who caught the attention of Dick Clark and shot to fame in the mid-sixties as hosts of a daily afternoon musical variety show, Where the Action Is.

Where the Action Is–along with Hullabaloo–was required viewing if you wanted to stay ahead of the musical curve. It came on either before or after Dark Shadows–talk about a great double bill–and I remember getting hooked on it when it first started in the summer and later rushing home breathlessly after school to catch this glorious dose of pop culture.

A show with virtually no budget, Where the Action Is was shot on location all over the country (although sadly I can’t remember them shooting in my hometown of St. Louis), and featured audiences of local teens grooving to the latest pop singles. Looking at old clips on YouTube, it looks hopelessly quaint by today’s standards, but in its heyday, its influence on the teenage Baby Boomers had Don Draper and his ilk salivating.

On any given day you could hear The Turtles, The Temptations, The Association, and scads of others. It was more than just the music, though. Where the Action Is taught you all the latest dance moves–remember The Pony, anyone?–showed you the latest clothes and hairdos, and above all fostered this great sense of community. Here, even before Woodstock, was McCluhan’s global village. Even if you were stuck in some dead-end Palookaville, you never knew if Where The Action Is would show up in your town, bringing fun and music with it. And even if they didn’t, the show gave you hope that somehow, someday, you would be somewhere cooler. You realized that there were hundreds of other kids just like you who were united by the music of the day, all brought together by the show.

And it was Paul Revere and the Raiders who presided over this merry mix. Although ostensibly the hosts of the show, Clark gave them generous air time, thank goodness, because they were a really great band. Capitalizing on bandleader Revere’s name, they were costumed in 18th century regalia, including 3-cornered hats, which added to their stage presence but may have detracted from the fact that they were actually a quite decent group, who had a string of hits through the mid to late sixties when they were at their peak. Listen to their version of “Louie Louie” and see if you don’t agree that Mitch Miller, who was the A&R man of Columbia Records at the time, made a grievous error in declining to promote it, allowing the much lesser Kingsmen version to become a nationwide hit. And if “Good Thing” wasn’t made for cranking up up on the AM radio, then I don’t know what is.

MarkLindsayFronting Paul Revere and the Raiders was Mark Lindsay, possibly America’s answer to Paul McCartney. Those eyes! That pontytail! And above all those lips! Be still my beating heart! It’s good to know even at this late in the day, the memory of a teen heartthrob lives on.

Maybe it was the silly costumes, maybe it was the “commercial” exposure of “Where the Action Is” and the resultant jealousy–what group wouldn’t have wanted daily tv exposure?–but it remains a mystery to me why Paul Revere and the Raiders have never been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Maybe that will happen and maybe it won’t–but hey, getting a shout-out on MM is a great consolation prize. Guys, you were and remain a “Good Thing.”


  12 Responses to “The Fabulous Ride of Paul Revere and the Raiders”

  1. Ahhhhhh, SF Caramia! I was hoping someone would do a guest post on Paul Revere & the Raiders. THANK YOU.

    I was Sally’s age when this band hit. My Raiders memories consist of me convincing my mom that, yes, in fact, that WAS Mark Lindsey in the car next to ours, at a local drive-in. !!

    One of my brothers took guitar lessons, and the opening salvo of “Hungry” is forever imprinted on my brain.

    As to why they never became mega-superstars (today’s currency which denotes “success”)…I think there were so many other great bands out there (of which you cited just a few)…they kinda got lost in the shuffle.

    Another great band not given its due? The Zombies.

  2. Yes, thank you so much for this post! In 1968 I was 12 and Mark Lindsay was so “dreamy.” 🙂

    Not only did I have those flower decals in my room just like they were shown in the dorm room that Sally stayed in when she visited Miss Porters (although I was so obnoxious I actually wrote on one of them, “Betty Crocker says ‘flour’ power”), but my girlfriends and I would play this following Paul Revere and the Raiders song over and over to listen for the “dirty lyrics.” Do you know what I mean?

  3. “Oh baby C’mon
    Let me take you where the action is
    “Oh baby C’mon
    Let me take you where the action is
    “Oh baby C’mon
    Let me take you where the action is
    It’s so neat to meet your baby where the action is”

    This theme song still lingers in my brain 45 years later! No doubt because my sisters watched it every day after school!

    I was 7 in 1968, and I found Mark ‘dreamy’ too! (And I cracked up when Julie mentioned him!) I remember being especially astonished that he had a real ponytail. So glad you wrote this, was hoping someone would! Great job, and happy memories, Thanks!

    One of my favorites was “Kicks”

    And Indian Reservation

    Also, as an aside–MM/Sharon Tate conspirators have pointed out that Mark Lindsay briefly lived in the house that Sharon Tate was murdered in –creepy!

    • Yes, Mark Lindsay did live at the Cielo Drive house with Terry Melcher and Candice Bergen in the year before Polanski and Tate rented it. Mark talks about that, and many other things, here.

      According to Tate’s sister Debra, that rental was a last-minute decision, after Patty Duke decided not to sell the couple her own home nearby. Debra also maintains that the “rock-and-roll lifestyle” of those previous tenants was responsible for the Manson Family’s appearance on the scene. In this, I agree with her.

      “Oh, that’s just Charlie. He’s okay. He’s a little eccentric but he’s all right.” Those people never knew what they let into their homes. What a shame that Sharon was the one who had to find out.

      • And “Leave your chewing gum on the bedpost overnight …!” and an incredible non sequiter:

        Nina Simone’s masterpiece “Turn Me On.” (covered adequately by Norah Jones).

    • The theme song was sung by Freddie Cannon who also had a hit with Palisades Park the composition of which is attributed to another icon of the late 60’s, Chuck “The Gong Show” Barris.

  4. I recall reading that the author of the lyrics to “Indian Reservation” had actually met with some American Indians and promised to “write a song about their plight” once he returned to civilization. Don’t know where I read this, and I always thought it was a good story!

    My research show John D. Loudermilk wrote the song “Indian Reservation” originally…and guess what else he wrote? “Tobacco Road” !! His mom was a missionary to the Cherokee in Nashville, where Loudermilk grew up.

    • John D Loudermilk also wrote that fantastic ballad, “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye”.

      “Kiss me each mornin’ for a million years…”

  5. I once saw them in person at Disneyland back in the late 80s or early 90s.

  6. Ahh, the memories. My favorite Mark Linsay song is “Arizona.”

    “She must belong to San Francisco
    She must have lost her way
    Postin’ a poster of Poncho and Cisco
    One California day
    She said she believes in Robin Hood and brotherhood
    And colours of green and grey
    And all you can do is laugh at her
    Doesn’t anybody know how to pray?

    Arizona, take off your rainbow shades…”

    And my favorite two lyrics in the song as they strikes a Don Draperist note:

    “Hey, Arizona, take off your hobo shoes
    Arizona, have another look at the world, my my…”

  7. Wow, flashback time. I was 16 in 1968 so yeah, I remember PR&TR, and Where the Action Is, sort of a next generation American Bandstand (which was still on air, of course.) And it followed Hullabaloo and Shindig!, but preceded Midnight Special which began around 1972 IIRC. So much good music on TV – I’m sure our parents were alternately puzzled, annoyed and amused, but they still got their Sinatra and Como and Crosby and of course, Dean Martin with his own show plus whomever Ed Sullivan was featuring, and Andy Williams at the holidays.

  8. The band was before my time but I like a lot of ’60s music so I know a little bit by PR&tR. I have “Kicks” on my ’60s playlist on my ipod. 🙂

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