Paul Revere and the Raiders' Michael Smith Dead
March 12, 2001, 06:00 PM

By Tarea Burghart, AP

Michael Smith, the drummer for the 1960s rock 'n' roll band Paul Revere and the Raiders who played the part of the madcap jokester on stage, has died. He was 58.

Smith died March 6 of natural causes at Kona Community Hospital after being found unconscious in his home in Kona on the Island of Hawaii, according to Roger Hart, the band's manager, and hospital officials.

Smith -- called "Smitty" by friends and bandmates -- was born and raised in the suburb of Beaverton. He joined the band in 1962 after he was discovered by band leader Paul Revere and vocalist Mark Lindsay playing guitar at a teen club called the Headless Horseman in downtown Portland, Hart said.

"Mike was playing a guitar, but not that well, according to Paul, and he basically said if you play the drums, I might have a place for you in my group," said Hart, a Portland DJ before he became the band's manager.

The Raiders were known for their tri-cornered hats, colonial costumes and wild and crazy stage act.

"Smitty was the Ringo. He was the personality. If they had just been another group -- that would have been fine. They were good," Hart said. "But their legacy was humor with hits."

The Raiders were signed by CBS' Columbia Records in 1963. Their first release, a recording of "Louie, Louie" topped charts on the West Coast, but the Kingsmen's version of the almost unintelligible song became the national hit, Hart said.

In 1965, the Raiders were hired to host "Where the Action Is," a daily afternoon television show on ABC produced by Dick Clark Productions. The show toured the country, featured musical acts as guests and turned the Raiders -- including Smith -- into teen idols, Hart said.

The Raiders' hit singles included "Just Like Me," "Kicks," "Good Thing," and their biggest hit, "Indian Reservation."

Although he was the clown onstage, Smith could be quiet, introspective and somewhat shy out of the spotlight, Hart said.

"Offstage, he was a gentle man and a gentleman. He was very kind to people," Hart said. "Smitty was our little peacemaker. He was very concerned about world conditions and wishing that somebody could straighten out the rest of the world."

Smith left the band in 1975 and has lived in Hawaii off and on since then, Hart said.

He is survived by his wife, Brenda and children Jenna, Rio, Rory and Alexandra.

Hart said members of the Raiders and close associates are planning a private reunion soon to remember Smith.

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