Paul Revere and the Raiders – Something Happening (1968)

One of the best bands of the 1960’s, Paul Revere and the Raiders seems to miss out on the iconisim that they deserve,. The “classic” like up of the group included f Mark Lindsay, Paul Revere, Jim “Harpo” Valley, Mike “Smitty”Smith, Phil “Fang”Volk and Drake Levin.

Over the last few years I have become obsessed with Paul Revere and the Raiders, but I am dismayed that the group has seemed to have missed out on achieving widespread rock n’ roll iconisim, and that it wasn’t until Quintin Tarantino used their music heavily in the film “One Upon a Time in Hollywood” did modern music audiences even pay any attention to them. As far as I’m concerned, Paul Revere and the Raiders are as good, and often even better than, any of the top tier groups of the 1960’s. With a string of solid rock hits between 1966 and 1971, The Raiders were a great guitar group with a heavy, but not too heavy, sound and had one of the best front men of the era in lead singer Mark Lindsay. They managed to pull out hit after hit at the end of the 60’s, making themselves an essential part of the era’s soundscape. But, for some reason, they never achieved the level of lasting fame that they deserved.

I’ve thought a lot about this over the years, and I think that there were a lot of different factors which has prevented Paul Revere and the Raiders from being put in the same category as The Rolling Stones, The Doors, The Who or Led Zepplin. From their Revolutionary War gimmick costumes, to their heavy appearances in teen magazines, I think that serious rock fans dismissed them as “kids stuff” instead of allowing the music to speak for itself. But, what I think really hurt the group was possibly it’s close relationship with Dick Clark Productions, as well as inner tensions within the band which created both a conflicted public image, and eventually led to the group’s demise (well, beyond playing Branson anyways).

The Canadian pressing of Paul Revere and the Raiders’ 1968 album “Something Happening” had a different cover which would not have gone over today due to unfortunate cultural appropriation.

Formed in Boise, Idaho in 1959 by Mark Lindsay and Paul Revere (Revere was actually his middle name – his full name was Paul Revere Dick, so you can see why he dropped his surname), the group started off as a high energy garage band that was playing frat parties and college dances in the Midwest. In 1962 the group was given a little song called “Louie, Louie” and recorded it. However, the Kingsmen released a version of the song at the same time, and it was their version that became the hit. But the Raiders version of the song was popular enough for Columbia Records to notice the group, and the Raiders signed a contract and relocated to Los Angeles by 1965. At this time the group was made up of what fans consider the “classic” line up of Mark Lindsay, Paul Revere, Jim “Harpo” Valley, Mike “Smitty”Smith, Phil “Fang”Volk and Drake Levin.

With a great sound and a unique look, The Raiders were made readily available for TV appearances, and began appearing on pretty much every music show in the LA area, but most notably on “Where the Action Is,” which was produced by Dick Clark Production, that aired five days after school following the highly popular “Dark Shadows.” Dick Clark really liked the Raiders, and had them on “American Bandstand” regularly, and when “Action” ended in 1968, hired The Raiders as the hosts of the follow up show, “Happening.”

Raiders guitarist Phil “Fang” Volk hams it up with TV producer and “American Bandstand” host Dick Clark. Clark took an interest in The Raiders and made them regulars on “Bandstand” and “Where the Action Is” before hiring them as the hosts of “Happening.” Their association with Dick Clark gave the increased exposure, but possibly hurt their reputation in the minds of “serious” music fans.

This is where I feel things went wrong for the band in regards to public perception. Although Paul Revere and the Raiders were still at their peak of popularity, as hosts of what was essentially an after school TV show, be it filled with legit bands or not, it put them in the same sphere as Captain Kangaroo in the eyes of serious music fans. That, and suddenly Paul Revere and the Raiders started showing up on TV commercials and print ads, and soon they became completely oversaturated to the public. Furthermore, in their colonial style military outfits, The Raiders became more like living cartoon characters than legitimate musicians. As a result of their dissatisfaction on this development, the majority of the band quit the group at the height of their popularity, forcing Paul Revere and Mark Lindsay in cobbling together another group.

By the end of the 1960’s a rivalry between Raiders’ front man Mark Lindsay and “leader” Paul Revere formed due to Paul’s jealousy of Marks’s popularity and Mark’s desire to take the Raiders in a more serious direction.

But there was more dire tensions in the group than the desertion of most of the players. There was an inner rivalry forming between Revere and Lindsay that was brewing to the surface. Although the name of the band had Paul’s name in it, Mark Lindsay was the front man, the singer, the heart throb and the face of the group, and the more attention he got, the more resentful Paul Revere got. Now Paul wasn’t a fool. He knew he couldn’t beat Mark Lindsay at this game. Bottom line was Mark Lindsay oozed cool, and Paul was a giant dork. But Paul considered himself to be a comedian, and his reason for getting into music was listening to Spike Jones albums as a kid. So Paul thought that he might get more equal attention to Mark if they created a kind of Martin and Lewis schtick, with Mark being the cool and collected Martin, and he could be the wild and goofy Lewis. Well, they tried this on “Happening” and the results were questionable. Personally, I don’t find Paul Revere funny at all and his brand of buffoonery became an annoying distraction in many performances which should have been otherwise certified cool.

As the 60’s came to an end, Mark Lindsay began to take more control over the group, especially in the production of the albums. Concerned with the lack of respect from music fans and critics alike, he sought to get the group to “grow up“ and took them out of their costumes, and introduced more political themes into their music. The band went through a few name changes too, in an attempt to differentiate the difference between Mark and Paul. A few albums were titled as Paul Revere and the Raiders featuring Mark Lindsay, and then simply The Raiders. But as the 70’s dawned, Paul’s jealousy of Mark and constant conflict over the direction of the group had created way to much bad blood between the pair, and Mark had finally had enough of Paul’s comedic shinanigans and quit the Raiders.

When Quintin Tarantino used three Raiders songs for the “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” soundtrack, music fans finally began taking a second look at The Raiders. However, they still haven’t gotten nominated for inclusion into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame despite being an important part of the musical landscape of the 1960’s.

Mark Lindsay put out a pair of solo albums, having success with one solo hit, “Arizona.” Paul Revere, retaining the name The Raiders, reformed the group again with an entire new lineup, brought back the Revolutionary War outfits and took up residence in Branson, Missouri. No matter what some people might feel, this group was a shaodw of the original greatness of the classic Raiders. Paul Revere died in 2014, but a group still calling themselves Paul Revere and the Raiders, containing no members of the hit making 1960’s line up, still tour under the name. Meanwhile, Mark Lindsay still performs, riding the wave of the reinterest in the band’s music due to “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” hosts his own show on Sirius Radio, and is very active on social media.

If you’ve never taken a deep dive into Paul Revere and the Raiders, give them a relisten. Forget what you thought you knew and let the music speak for itself. I am constantly amazed at how well thier albums have stood the test of time, and find myself continously dismayed that their musuic are still not rock n’ roll staples, nor have this group which were the gateway group to countless amounts of people who watched them on TV have made it into Cleveland’s Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. It’s time for the Raiders to hapeen.

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