A highly unlikely but completely (well,
almost) factual account of the step-by-step climb to stardom of persevering
PAUL REVERE and his rambunctious RAIDERS
It is the story of Paul Revere And The Raiders and it is a narrative of what was intended and what actually materialized, which, most fortunately, happen to be one and the same thing.
It begins--as Norman Crimp would tell you, if he weren't doing 99 years in San Quentin, and not even his mother's allowed to visit him--when Paul Revere was 16 (as in the Magazine of the same name). Young Paul uttered a searing cry, which was more of a scream than a sigh, if you must be precise. Immediately following that, this gentle schoolboy proceed to throw his typewriter out the window--the first smashing success of the youthful dreamer.
Let us bring you up-to-date first--and then we'll meander back through a sparkling Raider history, retracing our halting steps to the days of long ago when Revere decided to be a star of great magnitude. And finally was, mistake me not. Ever.
To date Paul Revere and his group of four Raiders have emerged as the most exciting rock and roll act in the nation; the most popular, captivating, and most certainly (ask any growing girl--or Gloria Stavers--for that matter) the handsomest bunch of great, big, beautiful all-American males ever to parade across stage, screen or eardrum. As performers, the Raiders are the most powerful crowd pullers in the U.S.A.--on the plains, in the coastal regions, high in the hills and mountains, among the factory towns of the middle-west and the east, on the islands and in the cities, towns and villages of every state on the flag (and that includes Broken Bottle, Arizona, where they drew such a massive crowd of citizens that the mayor had to have the 100-year-old hitching posts removed to accommodate the enthusiastic throng of hard-core Raider Rooters).
In addition to these head-reeling, triumphs, Revere and his robust, redoubtable, ruffled, roguish, Redondo Beach, rascally, rebellious, rollicking, remarkable Raiders have had a basketful of hit records which have crashed, ricocheted, catapulted, careened and capriciously, cannily and coolly climbed up the record charts to the apogean pinnacles of pure delirious delight--which means they are making more bread that Myrtle Minge, who has the largest over in Minnesota, and possibly all of the northern states.
No draw your amiable attention to a few pertinent facts: Revere's first remembered release was "Louie Louie" which, we might as well say now, was most curtly, correctly and quickly copied by another group. And this song has been bobbing round the nation ever since. And that's almost four years, which is a long time (to say the least) in the life of even a dragonfly--(the oldest of which is thought to be the dirty dragonfly of Boise, Idaho, which lived to be four years and eight months, and had eight thousand children, none of which, alas, ever came to visit him. In case you're interested.) After the "Louie Louie" fiasco, the Raiders were, oddly, able to build up a very large and loyal following on the West Coast--from their home zone of Oregon, through the Bay Area, pushing toward Los Angeles, and even beyond, to that delightful tourist trap in the Pacific, politely named Hawaii. For, despite all the precipitant mourners attendant upon the funeral for Revere's "Louie Louie," the record refused not only to die, but even to lie down, and it became a local hit--a tradition, in pockets all over the West, Northwest, and heaven knows where else.
Thus stimulated, Paul Revere And The Raiders went back into the recording studios and in three or four moments of time, produced one of the most memorable failures in the entire history of the recording industry. It was called "Sometimes" and it is believed to have sold fourteen copies in Maine and eleven in Minnesota and in areas of Wisconsin. The families of the Raiders bought up a further 19, and Doris Crunch (who lived in a cave in Pittsburgh until she was forcibly removed to an urban slum in uptown Cleveland) bought two cut-price copies because, in her own sweet myopic way, she greatly dug Mark Lindsay (who shall be described later at great length, without in the least bit boring you or giving offense in any way).
Paul Revere And The Raiders were, as you will imagine, greatly encouraged. "Gosh," ejaculated Paul, "we'll make another smasheroo like that one. We'll write it ourselves and call it "Steppin' Out," because we might as well. It's a better title than "Blistering Boots," whichever way you look at it."
Well, now--"Steppin' Out" became a very delightful hit and at last the personal appeal of Revere and his reverberating Raiders was being matched by record sales. To lapse into facetiousness for a fragment of time, let it be said that "Steppin' Out" did quite well, causing Paul to make another soul searching proclamation of great dimension. "Great Heavens," he exclaimed! "Dearie me! We must make another record!" And to carry out this promise he took into close confinement a music major from M.I.T. who could actually write his name and address without assistance. For a long two months, neither of them spoke, are a morsel, or breathed--you should pardon the expression--fresh air.
At long last they staggered from the confinement (which was, in fact, a tent not too far from the urban splendors of the sinister Sunset Strip) and Paul announced "I have it!" Then he proceeded to hum two of the most beautiful notes anyone has ever heard. The Raiders were toppled over not only by the majesty of the music, but by the curious aroma of bright-eyed Paul and his strange bearded friend.
"Paul!" gasped Mark Lindsay who was hiding inside a boot. "It's too great for words to describe. What's it called?"
Paul looked proud. Prouder than he'd ever looked. He nodded to the bearded one and said: "You tell him. It was your inspiration."
From beneath his enormous fuzz--or even from within--the strange one breathed heavily, and the Raiders waited. He cast his baleful eye over the tense group and said glumly: "It's called 'Just' "--and he vanished totally.
The Raiders whooped with delight. "Just!" they shouted wildly, repeating Revere's two notes over and over again. They jostled the molding Paul, slapping his back with loving care, and only breaking a rib or two. Smitty (whom, you will notice, we are introducing casually), nudged his leader. "Tell us the truth, Paul. Is the song yours, or did your fuzzy pal write it?" And he pointed up towards the remnants of a beard, vanishing into the sky over the Hollywood Freeway.
"It was a joint effort," said modest Paul, ripping violently into his first meal in months, an asparagus donut with a slice of cold gravy.
"Here's our next hit!" Mark shouted from inside the boot. And it was. It was called "Just Like Me." Paul and Mark, cleverly disguised as songwriters, put it together and the group recorded it beautifully under the musical direction of producer Terry, one of the Melcher kids. The only one, come to think of it. Columbia eventually threw maximum support behind the record, and it finally rambled into the top ten in the nation. But that's not all. There's more than that. Much more--stay tuned.
The first Columbia LP by Paul Revere And The Raiders "Here They Come" was a best seller and, what with the success of the single "Just Like Me" and of the second album called wittily, "Just Like Us"--the first album bounced back onto the charts again and--all of a sudden--Paul Revere And The Raiders became a top group. And you'd better believe it because it's true and because it happened--by gosh, it did.
O.K. "Just Like Us" was a very powerful hit album on many levels. It was extremely well produced by the aforementioned Terry Melcher, and nicely designed by photographer Guy Webster (those are terse but well-deserved credits), and Dick Clark wrote the liner notes--for reasons which, as we keep assuring you, will become as clear as the waters of the Saskatoon Sewer System in which, nobody would care to swim. (Nor, it was learned only last night, would Smitty's friend Art Raz, who, normally, will swim in just anything.)
Let us now whisk back, over the hillocks of time, and past the clouds of disbelief, beyond the sands of forgotten days, to the sun and snows of Big Bear in the winter of 1965--for yet another miracle.
Groovy people are here--and even some ungroovy ones. Big names and nothings. Gorgeous dancers pitter-patter nervously from foot to foot, smiling at each other, and the rock and rollers are chatting with them from time to time, and mostly all the time because they're all young and, as Paul grunts without looking up from his marriage contract, "It's nice to see youngsters enjoying themselves in a clean healthy way."
So what is the occasion? What brings Chad and Jeremy, Jan and Dean, the Supremes and all these dancers and camera crews and shouters of megaphoned orders, to Big Bear? More particularly, what draws Paul Revere And The Raiders to this curious spot?
The answer, in five words, is--Dick Clark.
All are brought here by Dick Clark--the buoyant, boyish, self-contained, pulled together "Pope of Pop." The "Senator of Sound." Quoth he: "Music knows neither barriers of race nor speed; neither gulfs of color, nor tables; it acknowledges only beat and soul, frimp and grimble, kelge and thurskey. Nothing more." This was the statement for which Clark became famous, and rightly so. But we are straying from the point.
Dick Clark, whom we all value because he is good, because he knows why he is good--because he knows how to apply what he knows to television (and most of us love him chiefly because he is so benignly equipped to survive), has brought us to Big Bear to film a pilot for mighty CBS, the network named so lovingly--all those years ago--after Catherin Bernice Seligman, the charitable widow of Spillville, as she was affectionately known.
"We'll call it 'Where The Action Is' " says Dick in a burst of inspiration--and suddenly someone has written a song to go along with the title. So a pilot of a new rock and roll show is made--a jolly, outgoing, out-of-doors, rosy-cheeked, healthy, friendly, middle-of-the-road, non-offensive, lip-sync romp. All is well.
When in a burst of cautious optimism, CBS makes the bold decision not to launch the show, sweet lovable Dick Clark is stuck with it. But tarry a little--there is more. There is Channel Seven, the American Broadcasting Cats. And being super-groovy, super-bright cats, they buy "Where The Action Is." So, in the early summer of 1965 Paul Revere And The Raiders are launched upon major network television, as the regular stars of the new show.
Within two weeks, the nation's vacationing youth had sat up, noticed, and acted. In a furor of adoring letters (and using the slang of the day) America's beautiful teenagers tell Paul Revere And The Raiders that they are the neatest, bich-enest, wildest and most outasite group in the whole wide world.
Now, let's go back: To begin at the beginning, as Bob Dylan wrote in "Under The Milkman," Paul Revere finished school and went to hairdressing college to learn how to dress hair, of course. Not being a man of great ambition, he had already decided not to become a janitor like his father. (Revere Senior had been a farmer but, unfortunately, nothing grew on the land surrounding his quaint and ancient farmhouse--which was built, single-handed, by a one-armed bandit in the cold winter of 1746/7). Anyway, after Revere left hair-dressing college, he bought himself a pair of scissors and a comb--on an impulse. He then sidled into the living room and placing his hand slyly behind the old family bible, which hadn't been opened since 1869, he lifted $500 which his grandmother had forethoughtfully saved before the grim reaper came to collect her. Thusly, Paul Revere bought a barber shop for $500--so someone got a bargain, and it wasn't the man who sold it. That's for sure.
Revere was now 17 and, like most boys his age, he bought a second barber shop, and then a third--and soon they were all doing very nicely, thank you. But, at one and the same time, the ubiquitous Paul played the piano. And quite well. "Very well," said Paul irritably. "Very well, indeed," said he with indignation, confiding in his barber pole, which was his closest confident: "I am a magnificent piano player and I will, one day, be quite a good one. We'll shake on that."
The barber pole made little noticeable response and Revere decided instantly to sell the barber shops and be done with it.
Now Revere recollects: "I wanted to be both a businessman and a piano player, so I sold the barber shops and bought a drive-in restaurant. This was in Boise, Idaho, and the guy who had it didn't know what was happening. I had a leaking boat I'd boat for $350, so I sold it to the drive-in man for $3,000. To me this seemed fair. Then I gave him $5,000 in cash and got the restaurant."
Paul, obsessed with piano playing became the pied piper of Boise, and played an occasional gig with other musicians, later luring them back to his vastly crowded drive-in. One day at the drive-in, as Paul was moving lithely through the crowds, "Like a lean panther," he described himself, he spied a mountain of loaves lurching through a doorway which happened to be opened. It was, of course, his old friend Mark Lindsay whom he had never met. Mark, a 17-year-old, dark-eyed, six-footer, was then pursuing the ancient craft of bread delivery.
"Hi, Mark," Paul said recklessly. "Hi, Norman," said Mark, who had taken the precaution of memorizing Revere's name from a poster picture he'd seen of him in a post office. Paul stuck out a foot and blithely tripped Mark, who fell violently--scattering four hundred and fifty loaves of bread about, give or take ten or twelve.
"What goodies have you brought me today?" asked Revere, with a sly grin. "Pickles and turnips and a thousand candy bars," said Mark, pointing optimistically to the bread.
"So I see," answered Revere, with a broad wink at a gnome who appeared quite suddenly from inside a loaf of French bread. "Who are you?"
"I am the great gnome of rock and roll--and, boy, am I a wheel!" cried the dwarf. Revere poked out his hand and prodded the little one with a two-pronged finger attack on both eyes.
"Thanks," said the gnome. "That's very good for my hay fever." And he sneeze with vast clumsiness, encompassing most of the loaves within the swirling turbulence of his outburst.
Lindsay jumped up and hastily stuffed the gnome back into his pocket. "He is a groove, this one," he confided in the jargon of the day. "I hope you might want to put him up in a musical band, as it were." "Correct," said Paul, pleased. "What is your name stranger?" he asked Mark. "Name's Lindsay, partner," drawled Mark out of the side of his face, a lá Gary Cooper.
"Why are you suddenly talking like a character in a Western?" asked the gnome, who reappeared to throw his own peculiar brand of inanity into the conversation.
"Mind your own business and start counting those loaves," said Paul, gently stuffing the creature inside a whole wheat wrapped. For safe-keeping, of course.
For some weeks like went on much as normal. Revere grew rich on the proceeds of the drive-in and all the while Paul was still playing rock and roll piano at local dance halls, reaping his riches with the added presence of the great and infamous gnome of rock and roll. Folks from neighboring counties flocked to the halls where Revere played, paying up to $3 to come in and watch the twitching rhythmic dancing of the tiny gnome, who was indeed a merry old soul as he finger-popped and snapped his way through "Rock Around The Clock," "Blue Suede Shoes," and other songs which, long ago, had been written, probably.
Lindsay, meanwhile, his hands pitted and scarred with the cruel crusts of his chosen craft, would lean, bread-weary against the bandstand, hinting to Paul Revere that he, Mark Lindsay, would like to be allowed to sing and maybe become great and infamous too.
Now if there was one thing Revere wasn't, that was handsome. Cute, maybe. Sly, definitely. But handsome? Mark, however, was--and Revere could use that. And as the nights passed and the gnome grew more and more arrogant with fame, Paul began to ponder the future. Could he have Lindsay to sing, without having the famous gnome as well? Finally, Paul resolved to dump the gnome and ask Mark into the band. Mark, being a kindly soul and loyal, wasted not a moment. "Take me into your loving band," he said. "And tell the famous gnome to get lost. Like who needs him?"
The gnome, chancing to overhear this, breathed violently over both the schemers, which set them back three weeks, or a day or two at least. Maybe three days, or 24 hours. (They forget, and so does everyone.) For it was not for nothing that the famous gnome was known throughout the Ozarks as Harry Halitosis. When Mark and Paul recovered, they found the gnome gone. Stuck to the piano, with a lump of cheese, was a note which said simply: "How is a man to face his mother bravely, if he can't see well, and she isn't there anyway?" So much for that.
Thus did Mark Lindsay join Paul Revere's underpaid, brutally disciplined band. "Can you play a note of music?" asked Paul, as an afterthought, and Mark replied conveniently, "No!" For the next several years Revere made deductions from Lindsay's salary (deducting all, in fact) to pay for an electric guitar and saxophone which Lindsay learned in three or four minutes, with only one break, for lunch.
To this day, when Mark is asked to lecture for the U.S. Government Job Corps on his musical training and "How To Make It In Show Business Without Having A Friend In The William Morris Office", he explains patiently, that true proficiency takes time and diligence and a sense of artistry matched equally by a sense of total irresponsibility.
"Success," he booms knowledgeably from the podium, "does not come overnight--it happens in three minutes. Talent cannot be bought, but it can be stolen. Originality is not to be confused with talent; originality is a precious gift which depends entirely on the skill of those who are deciding upon whom to imitate."
At the close of every lecture Mark will raise his right hand, and gaze at the most comely girl in the audience. He will pause for, maybe three or four minutes, and will end with these words: "Remember these three things: In being born American, you have won first prize in the lottery of life. Like you will not find a Woolworth's in Moscow. And then again, you'll not get a peach with every blossom." (A line he happened to lift, years later, from erudite young Phillip Volk's philosophical essays file."
Revere, a man not easily moved, has wept many times at the famed Mark Lindsay lectures, where he serves double duty as program seller and bouncer--Paul being a man whose avarice is only matched by his deep love of money.
Let us skip a few months and slide logically into the year nineteen hundred and sixty-something--Revere and Lindsay, considerably under the influence of milk, lunged into a Portland, Oregon, teen club to see how other musicians were managing to seduce $1.50 from the pockets of the ragged-levied teenagers, who are now grown up with families of their own (if we are to believe all we read). In this club stood the worst guitarist in the history of unpopular music; but he was also a fine, small man and obviously possessed of a diabolic wit. "Watch his fingers," said Revere knowingly. "He has everything we need in a good guitarist," muttered Paul as he passed through the dancers, nicking them on the ankles in his rush. Smitty--for that was the guitarist's name--smiled bravely as Revere glared at him with flashing dollar signs in his eyes.
"Smitty," said Paul, benevolently, "you are just the guitarist I need for my band. You'll play the drums. Follow me, and I will make you a knight among common men," grinned mild-mannered Paul, offering the emotionally overcome Smitty a slightly used handkerchief which he had copped from the pocket of the ancient and salty cat who sold peanuts at the door.
"Thank you very much indeed," Smitty responded, putting his guitar in his pocket and stepping from the stage. Revere removed his chair from beneath Smitty's foot, and the new recruit fell heavily on his heretofore very attractive skull.
"Did anything interesting happen tonight?" Smitty's mother asked her son some time later, as she tenderly rearranged the flowers in his room in the emergency ward.
"Nothing much," wrote Smitty, with slow, painful courage on a pad the nurse held close to his bruised chest. "I had a very pleasant evening and Mr. Revere is giving me a lovely new job."
Smitty's kindly mother dabbed gently at his fevered brow with an oolong flavored tea bag, and in due time the incipient drummer recovered sufficiently enough to take his place at the Revere drumstand in several of the classier National Guard armories and Portland's beloved former cowboy heaven, Division Street Corral.
Although plaster encased his ribs and he was having to learn how to live bravely with a steel plate inserted at the base of his skull, Smitty won new fans wherever he went, for the Americans saw in him something of the indomitable spirit which had made the nation great--namely, guts!
But Paul needed yet another member to round out his Raiders. It was fortunate for him that there were, roaming free at the time (well, not free, but reasonable) inexpensive musicians of great promise. One such, an unsuspecting one, was cute and friendly Phillip Volk, who had learned to play oboe and flute under the tutelage of Illya Kuryakin and the piano under the tutelage of famed child prodigy, Baby Grand. All during this time, Phillip was not only a college boy, but a very B.B.M.O.C. via his unquestioned affiliation with Sigma Nu fraternity at the University of Colorado. Having been lured away from his college campus, Phillip Volk extended his standards sufficiently enough to become a teen idol of great significance.
Now Phillip has, of course, four rows of teeth, thus earning himself the nickname "Fang" which has given him the pure and undiluted ego-feeding pleasure of seeing that ridiculous title of his, on inky banners (namely pilfered bed sheets) throughout the teen nation--far beyond the banks of the Potomac, even to the tiny islands of New England, and as far west as Klamath Falls' Link River, in Oregon, which everybody knows is the shortest river in the world. Ask Jimmy Truax, he spent his entire life there one week and still does.
Phil, Mark was thrilled to observer, swiftly became a teen fave-rave of some stature and--although the 'Hermit' Noone, had discarded his unwanted bicuspids--Volk, with the balanced judgement of the true artist, decided to keep his, and be the only man in show business with such a ignobly enobling feature.
Into the furor of rock and roll, through a trail of ridiculously clever deals, marched Paul Revere and his mighty men. (Mike "Smitty" Smith, you will be relieved to know, was--by now--restored to health, with only a trace of a limp and with the merest twinges of pain in his spine--(all of which was caused, of course, by a protruding nail in his Raider boots.) So it was all stations "Go" for R 'n' R, except that they needed one brilliant addition--that of Jim Valley, (not to be confused with Death Valley, a former country music favorite) who has (surprise!) recently joined the group. Jim Valley was a Goodtime once, as in Don And The Goodtimes. But now he is a fair-haired Raider (and mostly called "Harpo"--simply because it happens that he is a likeable lookalike of the great "Harpo"--of the famous Marx Brothers).
The validity of Valley's various overtures to the Raiders is undisputed, for here is a blondish, grinning, human delight, who long, long ago yearned to join the Rebel Raider crew and, who, of all the free-wheeling, hard rock and roll bandsmen in the Northwest of the states emerged fair and square, solid and permanent, at the top of the heap, you should pardon the expression, again. All things come to him who is impatient. And impatient Valley was to become a Raider, with the full blessing of all.
But wait a minum. Another man whom we have not mentioned because he is so special, so rare, so think, that he must, not only must, but will, be given preferential treatment over all other people in this rags to riches Raider narrative. This man's name is Roger Hart, (though it was once Maynard G. Puppybreath and before that it was The Word). Roger Hart, former deejay, genius (still), egomaniac and close friend of friendly peoples everywhere, was once asked: "Why did you change your name so many times?"
To which he replied: "I agree with everything you've said, but I reserve the right to fly first class, if only because of the movies. So kindly step aside and let me get all this packing done. Oh, I wish I had a suitcase!"
Paul grits his teeth in smiling splendor, when reminded of this early friendship with Roger Hart--destined to become a millionaire before the age of thirty--along with thrifty Paul. To date Hart is not a millionaire. But then again, he isn't thirty. Give him time. On both counts.
Now, Hart, the venerable manager of Revere's Raiders, when being interrogated by teens and press alike, makes merely curt responses, in show biz-manager tradition, like, "Yes," "No," and "Where's the money?"
With Roger Hart at the helm beside Revere, this lusty band grew to great power through "Kicks," a single, and "Hungry," a single and "Midnight Ride," which is twelve singles--cleverly disguised as a smash hit Columbia LP.
And there it is, for all it's worth. And if you wish to share in the further adventures of Paul Revere (not to mention his rollicking Raiders), you may do so by donning your Raider hat, planting your Raider button firmly in place and immediately joining their fan club, which costs only $2.00, but then again, doesn't everything? The Revere & Raiders national fan club address is cleverly hidden on the back page (near the name of their favorite magazine) which, like this story is the livin' end.