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Fox Theatre

Mark Lindsay: A Raider’s renaissance

Paul Revere & the Raiders’ frontman shows he can still rock on Happy Together Tour

Mark Lindsay, lead singer of '60s band Paul Revere and the Raiders, lived the rock and roll dream, recording in world class studios and then barnstorming the country, performing chart-topping hits for screaming fans. 

In fact, Lindsay is still living the dream, traveling around the country, singing songs like “Kicks” and “Just Like Me” to adoring audiences, at 71 years young.

Former Tucson resident

A former Tucson resident, Lindsay, returns to town Friday on the Happy Together Tour. The annual tour, this year playing nearly 60 dates, is hosted by Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, (aka Flo and Eddie) the former singers for the Turtles, whose 1967 number one hit gives the tour its name. 

The current lineup also includes hit makers Chuck Negron from Three Dog Night (“One,” “Joy To the World”), Gary Puckett (“Lady Willpower,” “Young Girl”) and Gary Lewis (“This Diamond Ring,” “She’s Just My Style,” “Count Me In”).  The performers each get 30 minute segments, backed by a house band.

“During that half hour they do their most iconic songs from the period of mostly mid to late '60s and it’s a slice of that genre of music at that time,” Lindsay said in a phone interview. “You get to go back to a kinder, gentler time when we didn’t have mortgages, or kids with college loans. We were going to change the world. And for that period of time, we did.”

Tight pants

Lindsay is on his fourth year on the tour. As a major '60s icon, Lindsay cut a singular figure in his velour Revolutionary War coat, boots and ruffled shirt, pony-tail and very, very tight pants. Girls went moony over his pictures in Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, screamed and swooned when he sang.

And it wasn’t a hollow image. Lindsay is blessed with an equally iconic rock and roll voice which is still strong and intact (he does daily vocal exercises, after walking 6-10 miles in the morning). As Allmusic.com cites, “Mark Lindsay sounded the way every male teen 14 through 17 pictured himself looking and acting at the age of 21.” 

He is still in fine voice. A recent review of the tour praised his solid performance.

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Lindsay is in the midst of a personal resurgence in his career. He has an album of new material coming out. He’s writing a musical and working on two books, including an autobiography. He’s healthy, happy and doing what he loves.

“About two years ago, I changed my lifestyle,” he explains, “and that kind of created a renaissance in my life.” 

A personal renaissance

After living in a variety of places over the years, Lindsay and his wife of almost 30 years, Deb, who also helps manage his career, decided to try something different.

“My wife and I have lived in Maui, Nashville, Memphis, Tucson, Idaho, upstate New York and Florida. About two years ago, we started getting itchy again, because obviously, we’re gypsies,” Lindsay says. “And she said, ‘Why don’t we get an RV and just travel around for awhile, and if we don’t like it, we can settle down.’

“That’s been a little over two years now and it’s caused a whole renaissance in my life for some reason – just getting rid of all the excess baggage in my life,” he says.  “When you’re travelling in an RV, you’re pretty stripped down. You can’t acquire all the things along the way.”

When he’s not on tour, he says, “I wake up at about 3 or 4 in the morning and write until about 6. Then I do a bunch of exercises and go out and walk for a couple of hours and write music in my head. Then I come back and do my vocal exercises. I’ve written more songs in the last two years than I had in the previous 25. The muse is there hitting me over the head, so I’m not going to deny it.  So I’m writing as fast as I can"

The Raiders' legacy

Paul Revere and the Raiders were originally a frat party band in the Pacific Northwest. Born in 1942, the same year as Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson, Lindsay first started playing in a band with Paul Revere Dick in Boise, Idaho at 16, becoming the group’s vocalist and playing sax.

They had regional hits, including a song called “Louie, Louie,” recorded at about the same time and at the same Portland, Oregon studio as a neighboring band, the Kingsmen. The Kingsmen got the national hit, but the Raiders version and Lindsay’s vocals also earned them recognition.

As a result, in 1963 Paul Revere and the Raiders became the first rock act signed to Columbia Records. Cast as America’s answer to the British Invasion, they became the house band on Dick Clark’s five-day-a-week TV show, “Where The Action Is,” giving them huge visibility in the days when there were only three TV networks.  They performed on more than 500 episodes. Lindsay and Revere later hosted spin-off shows for Clark, “It’s Happening” and “Happening ’68.”

Hit after hit

At Columbia, the band shared producer Terry Melcher with labelmates the Byrds, as Lindsay’s songwriting chops continued to mature. The Raiders released three albums in 1966 and all went gold. Their music generated 17 solid Top Twenty hits – “Stepping Out,” “Just Like Me,” “Kicks,” “Hungry,” “Good Thing,” “Ups and Downs,” “Him or Me, What’s It Gonna Be?” and “I Had A Dream.”

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After opening for the Rolling Stones on tour the previous year, by 1966 the Raiders saw the Stones opening for them. 

“I remember seeing Mick going backstage, asking ‘What’s going on?’ And they said, ‘You have to understand, these guys have this TV show and they’re really popular. I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to open for them,’” Lindsay says, obviously enjoying the memory.

Eventually the Raiders’ campy costumes and choreographed moves faded from fashion with the rise of hippiedom and album-oriented radio formats. Their music from the mid-60s, however, has gained lasting respect for its garage band sound and intensity, their legacy influencing a later generation of punk rockers and grunge bands.

In the end, their biggest hits were technically Mark Lindsay solo efforts. “Arizona” (1969) and 1971’s “Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)” were recorded by Lindsay alone, but credited to the band. 

“I never got paid for “Arizona” or “Silverbird” or any of my solo records,” Lindsay says, sounding wiser, but not bitter. When I went in to collect my royalty check, the people at CBS said, ‘We’ve cross-collatoratized your earnings with the Raiders, since you’re on the same contract. The Raiders aren’t very hot right now, so you’re paying for them.”

After several years of revolving membership, Lindsay finally departed in 1975, while Revere continued to tour with a comedy-oriented version of the band.

Still wailing on sax

Asked if he’s still plays his saxophone, Lindsay responds proudly, “Yeah, I still play. On the new album, I play on one cut. That’s how I met the guys who are on the album with me, a group called the Doughboys from the East Coast  I got called in to play sax on one of their records and that’s how I met Gar Francis and we started writing songs together. That turned into 14 songs on the album. It sounds like could have been recorded back in 1967 right after “Hungry.”

“The feedback I’m getting from my fans is, ‘Wow, we’ve waited for years to hear you sing like this again, man. It’s like the old Mark Lindsay.’”

“I love to hear that,” he admits.

When he lived in Tucson, Lindsay was a regular habitué of local music stores, including Rainbow Guitar and Chicago Music Store, often showing up on a daily basis. He hopes to have time to stroll over to Chicago Store downtown before the show.

There is, of course, one last question to be asked, one of rock’s persistent myths, investigated by the FBI, that Lindsay is in a unique position to answer.  Were there really dirty lyrics to “Louie, Louie?”

“No,” he laughs, setting the record straight. “There weren’t. Jack Ely of the Kingsmen wore braces. When he sang the song, he was mumbling his words. You know how teenagers are – they just heard imaginary words and when it was banned in Boston, that was all it took.”

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have your say   

2 comments on this story

Jul 10, 2013, 8:46 pm
-0 +2

I’ve seen all these guys a time or two over the past ten years or so.  They still sound as good as they did in the ‘60’s. If they didn’t sound that great in the ‘60’s…they STILL don’t.  Ya can’t multi-track and overdub very well in front of a “live” audience.

Jul 10, 2013, 7:39 pm
-0 +3

The Raiders are a not so guilty pleasure for me. The first lead guitar part I learned was from “Kicks.” I hid my first guitar in the closet because my Dad was a musician and said “guitars players were a dime a dozen.” He was right, but . . . From there it was on to copping Albert King licks.
The Raiders bridged that gap between canned acts, bands that were completely contrived or at least dominated by their management and record company, and the bands that actually wrote their material and played their instruments. People wrote them off because of the costumes, but they were decent players, from what I’ve heard.
I’m not much on oldies tours, but this is an oldies show I may have to see and hear.
Lindsay has a distinctive voice. I heard it on a Texas compilation CD, mostly Austin bands, a few years ago. The track was listed under a female band leader’s name, but I knew it was Lindsay’s voice. It was. He’s a really fine singer. Or at least he was.

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Columbia Records

Lindsay, back in the day

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If you go

  • What: The Happy Together Tour featuring Flo and Eddie, Mark Lindsay, Chuck Negron, Gary Lewis and Gary Puckett
  • Where: The Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress Avenue
  • When: Friday, July 12 at 7:30 pm
  • Tickets: Reserved seating $43 – 67, plus processing fees, available at the Fox Theatre box office, online or by phone at 547-3040.