Paul Revere & the Raiders heroic Lead Singer/Songwriter/Producer – Mark Lindsay has impacted the music world in so many memorable ways.
Mark’s voice and persona with The Raiders made him a 60’s and 70’s icon and a mainstay on classic hits radio. Not only did he obtain legendary status with the band, he was the object for affection for the world’s school girl population. Mark Lindsay’s alluring smile, handsome profile, and mop-top dew with his long trademark ponytail (que) were on the front cover of every teen magazine around the globe. And forget about those redcoats from England that called themselves The Beatles, Mark Lindsay & the Raiders were True Blue Patriots for American Rock & Roll.
Mark Lindsay will once again be singing those timeless Paul Revere & the Raiders megahits on The Happy Together Tour 2011. Headlining this year’s tour is -The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie (“It Ain’t Me Babe” “Happy Together” “She’s My Girl”). Other legendary performers on the tour are -The Association (“Windy” “Cherish” “Along Comes Mary”), The Grassroots, (“Let’s Live for Today” “Midnight Confessions”) and The Buckinghams (“Kind of a Drag” “Don’t You Care” “Susan”).
The tour will be stopping at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Tuesday July 19th.
All these GREAT performers on one exciting bill, and reminiscent of the American Bandstand, Where the Action Is, Hullabaloo and Shindig TV show lineups of the 60’s.
Paul Revere & the Raiders produced hit after hit throughout the 60’s and early 70’s. Memorable classics like “Kicks”, “Steppin’ Out”, “Hungry”, “Good Thing”, “Just Like Me” and “Indian Reservation.”
Marl Lindsay is a Florida native now. And thanks to Jeff Albright from the Albright Entertainment Group, I was able to speak with both Mark Lindsay and Mark Volman of The Turtles last week. The interview with Professor Volman will be following this article.
And now here’s my interview with Mark Lindsay. Mark’s a Singer/Writer/Producer/Hitmaker & Legendary Frontman of Paul Revere & the Raiders.
Hi Mark, thanks for spending a few moments with me today. How are you?
“I’m great Ray. Where are you calling from?”
I’m calling from beautiful Bradenton, Florida.
“Well hey; I’m sitting in Florida right now. We’re over near Jupiter and we’re actually living in Florida now. I’ve been married to Deborah for twenty years and in that twenty years we’ve lived in Idaho, Oregon, Arizona, California, Maui, Nashville, Memphis, upstate New York and Florida. So we’ve lived in all four corners of the country and Hawaii and I like Florida the best. Florida’s cool, where else can you get summer 365 days a year, although it might get cold at night. I think we’re both lucky to be down here.”
What was living in Hawaii like?
“Except for the ocean breeze that blows pretty much all the time in Maui, the weather is pretty much exactly the same. We lived there for eight years and lived about two miles down the road from George Harrison as a matter of fact. We had three acres right on a cliff overlooking the ocean. It was great except we had a full time gardener, between him and the two of us; we’d be out there three days a week just beating down the bushes. So it got crazy but it was fun.”
Let’s talk about The Happy Together 2011 tour. It recently celebrated its 25th anniversary right?
“I was on some of the first ones and they put me back on the tour last year. We’ve got great reviews and we’re back again this year. I love it, it’s so much fun, you get to hear so many great songs and see all the guys, and it takes you back my friend, it takes you back. You’re gonna’ see a giant slice of the charts from the 60’s and 70’s and a lot of hits!”
I was a top 40 radio deejay back in the late 70’s/early 80’s and then MTV and video wiped out the radio star.
“Then the web wiped out the record. It’s all digital, it’s all downloads and unfortunately there’s a lot of piracy. But the kids today, it’s a whole new generation, you got a kid that’s 12 or 13 years old and he just doesn’t understand why he can’t hack in and download stuff because it’s there and so why can’t you get it.”
When I grew up, it was all about listening to your favorite deejay and finding out what the hit songs were. If you liked what you heard on the radio you ran down to the record store and bought the 45 record. Then you usually bought the album.
“Yea, it was fun. I love vinyl, as a matter of fact I’m working on a project now and we might end up putting it on vinyl as well because there’s a whole new market, kids are discovering the fact that vinyl sounds a hell of a lot better than digital.”
I miss that echo effect sound from all those classic 45 records. I’m not sure if we’ll be able to ever master that wonderful sound ever again. Jim McCarty of TheYardbirds agreed with me when I spoke with him several weeks ago, that magical sound on those early records can never be duplicated.
“Well a lot of it had to do with the live chambers. CBS records in Hollywood where the Raiders cut most of their stuff, they had two special echo chambers that were just… well you’ve heard Simon & Garfunkel, Raiders, it all sounded great. Capitol Records had these echo chambers designed by Les Paul as a matter of fact. Yea all that stuff -Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys they all sounded great. I have a lot of my old equipment, a lot of the same equipment that I used back in the 60’s and I can get pretty close but you cannot duplicate that echo. However a friend of mine has gone around and sampled a lot of the old chambers so he can get like 99% of the way there. It’s an all new technique though.”
There seemed to be a lot of pressure on those artists back in the 60’s, pressure to get a hit record on the radio along with a grueling touring schedule and constant TV appearances.
“I joined my first band when I was like 14 years old and formed the Raiders with Paul when I was like 17 or 18. So I’ve been on the road all my life and for some strange reason I still like it. I guess I’ve never grown up. That’s what’s so good about The Happy Together Tour; we’re back on the road again. You mentioned McCarty, we were lucky we had the show Where the Action Is. It was a great way to debut your record and everybody saw it at once. Although we did tour, there was like several years there where we were on the road like maybe 200 nights a year.”
Do you think it was that kind of discipline that made the 60’s music scene so great?
“I don’t know if it was the discipline or the sheer joy of playing rock & roll. I remember my first record contract; I would have paid them a nickel a record, you know? Anything to make music, and it wasn’t about the bucks it was about playing music, and being on TV, and playing in front of crowds.”
Yea, what was the fame like Mark; I remember your picture being plastered on the front cover of every teen magazine around?
“It was a funny thing, in my mind there were two Mark Lindsay’s. There was one guy that was on TV and then the magazine’s and stuff, and then there was the real me which I knew wasn’t like that guy. I was kind of having a hard time putting the two together. Inside I was kind of this shy kid from Idaho but when I got on stage everything changed.”
I think many of us kids identified more with bands like the Raiders and Turtles because you were one of us. You were “American” bands.
“Well, we were the American Revolution.”
And you wore that que or ponytail.
“And you know I wish the heck that I had put a Copyright on that because just think how many Hell’s Angels would have been paying royalties right now.”
Are you still sporting the ponytail (que) or is it a thing of the past?
“It’s come and gone about four different times. I’ve grown it and cut it off. Right now I don’t have it, I cut it off about three years ago but who knows I may start growing it back again, it comes and goes.”
I wanted to ask you about a song you did in 1966 called “Little Girl in the 4th Row” from The Midnight Ride album, was there actually a girl in the fourth row that you were singing about?
“Being on tour and you look out at the audience and there’d be this babe, you know? But you know that there was no way in the world that you’d ever be able to meet her, you can see her out there, but like as soon as the show was over BAM -you were on a bus or a limo or whatever to the airport or wherever you were going and never stick around, so it was kind of like one of those things. Then Mark began to sing some of the lyrics to the song, “Maybe someday you’ll be closer than four rows away.”
So you never actually got to meet her Mark?
“Well actually I did, believe it or not in Buffalo New York in 1967 there was this priest that come up before the show and after a soundcheck before the show curtain opened. He said, ‘Mark, I’m kind of the unofficial greeter here, there’s these little girls that are sitting out here that would love to meet you.’ So I said, ‘Sure bring them on back.’ So there were three girls that came back, and one of them was really- really cute, she had these cat eye glasses and there was this instant attraction, and I thought wait a minute this girl is 14 years old this is not going to happen. So I gave her a rose and a kiss on top of the head and that was it.
Fast forward to the 80’s, I’m in this meeting in Beverly Hills to do this commercial for this big corporation and appear at one of their functions. And I’m there with this gal and one of the guys from the agency. And this girl and I just hit it off instantly, and we’re sitting there laughing and the guy says, ‘Well I might as well leave; it’s obvious that you two know each other.’ And I said, ‘No-no, we’ve never met,’ and the girl said, ‘Actually we did meet many years ago but you wouldn’t remember it.’ I said, ‘When did we meet?’ She said, ‘Buffalo in ’67.’ I said, ‘You’re the girl that I gave the rose to.’ And I ended up marrying her.”
You’re kidding me?
“Nope, that’s my wife now.”
Wow, what a great story Mark.
“Oh yea. It was right, we were like star-crossed lovers. It was meant to be but it was just too early the first time around.”
That is amazing.
“My life reads like a novel and so I’m working on a book.”
Yea, I did hear that you were working on a book. As a matter of fact my first book was released recently – it’s called Check the Gs -The True Story of an Eclectic American Family and Their Wacky Family Business. How far are you along in your story?
“Well you know I’m almost done, I’ve written it and rewritten it three or more times and I’ve been working on it for 10-15 years. But what happens is every time I get almost finished, I start reading it and I say no, no, no, that’s not the way it really happened, I’m trying to make myself look too good here, this isn’t really real. So I go back and write what really happened without really stretching the fabric over the real stuff you know? So as I’ve done that several times and maybe as I get a little older I get a little more honest with myself. So I’m really getting close to the truth now and the truth reads better than fiction.”
Are you writing this totally on your own or getting some help with it?
“No, I’m doing it myself. Actually a couple of years ago I sent a couple of chapters to a publisher and I said maybe I need some help with this, and they no, no, no, we love your style just keep doing the way you’re doing. They wanted to make a deal but I said I’m not ready yet.”
Eventually, like I did, you’re going to say enough, it’s ready, I’m done.
“Well, when it’s right it’s right! It’s like writing a song, I’ll work on it in my head -and it’s amazing back in the day I use to write a song and that’s it great -spitted it out you know. Now I work a little harder on them and just keep working on it until I start taking things out and when I start taking things out I figure it’s time to stop.”
My book took two years to write and I look back and say where did those two years go? My mind was totally focused at that time on the story.
“It’s a consuming art but it’s worth it. And when you get through it you’ve got something you can look at for the rest of your life.”
When we leave this planet, well… you already have your legacy; I guess I’ll have mine with my book.
“No, I’m still working on mine; I’ve got a lot more stuff to do. I kind of hit a renaissance period and I’ve written more songs in the last eight months than in the previous eight years. And I’ve got a couple projects going, can’t really talk about them but one of them if it happens, will fulfill my horoscope. Back in the 60’s, Gloria Stavers, you mentioned 16 Magazine; she was the editor of 16, she gave me for my birthday one year my horoscope by Linda Goodman, a private horoscope right, and it predicted that you were going to end up with the mansion up on the hill, and sure enough I shared this big mansion with Terry Melcher, and about a sports car in the garage and I had the red Ferrari in there but she said these things will not make you happy you’re going to want more, you’re going to move on past this and do all these things and then become more famous then you ever thought you could. But it won’t make you happy.
But much later in life you’re going to have a second career that’s going to be so phenomenal that it will almost out eclipse your first career entirely. You’ll be known by millions more people. So I’m working on that and so if that comes true then there you go. And if this project works, that can happen, but I can’t say anything more about it than that, but wait and see.”
Tell me a little bit about Terry Melcher, he was an important guy in the 60’s wasn’t he?
“Terry was really the sixth Raider, if you listen to any of the songs up to the first record that I produced which was Too Much Talk; before that Terry was on every Raider record. We’d finish a song and he and I would go back into the studio later and he and I would mainly do the background. He had this great high sounding voice and it just blended so well. He was a big part of the Raiders sound. He was real instrumental in helping the Raiders in becoming the hitmakers they were and I really miss him, he’s gone now.”
He left us much too soon, didn’t he?
“Sure did, the last four or five years before he died, I said come on Terry let’s get back in and write something, let’s do something again, and he said, well…I don’t know. But his last big song was “Kokomo,” (The Beach Boys) he’s all over that for sure.”
Yea, Terry Melcher was instrumental to so many important bands- including The Beach Boys and The Byrds. When I attended broadcasting school back in the late 70’s, all my instructors were deejays with illustrious broadcasting careers and they all had Dick Clark stories. What was it like to work with Dick Clark?
“Well, he was totally professional. When the camera would come on or the Microphone would come on and he would be all smiles. He was very much a professional and if something didn’t go his way you knew about it. But he got done what he wanted done and done his way and it sure worked for him.”
So Dick Clark was also instrumental to the Raiders success right?
“Well sure, he had an idea for Where the Action Is; he hired us for the pilot because we worked very cheap, and when he sold the idea to ABC he hired us for a thirteen week period. He knew how visual we were right and we would work cheap, and he told me years later, ‘You know what? I thought I’d hire you guys for thirteen weeks and whenever the show took off I’d hire a real band.’ So they liked what they saw and by the end of that thirteen week period we had become that real band. We were the house band for almost three years.”
You guys cranked out some hits man, but what really amazed me is that “Indian Reservation” was your only Number One hit?
“Yea, even “Arizona” which was up to where it made platinum but not Number One. But we did have some gold records, it was the only Number One and the funny thing is it was suppose to be a follow up to “Arizona.” It was a Mark Lindsay record, I produced it and I usually didn’t produce myself, Jerry Fuller did, and when I got through with the record Jack Gold said, ‘Why don’t you put it out as the Raiders, you produce the Raiders and they need a hit.’ So we put it under the name of the Raiders and it became the biggest selling hit in the history of CBS records.”
Any regrets for calling the band Paul Revere? (Keyboardist Paul Revere Dick continued to tour without Mark using the Raiders name)
“In the beginning, way back to the beginning before we got on CBS, we signed our first record contract on a little label called Gardena and the owner said, ‘You got to sign the contract and sign your full legal name,’ so my full legal name is Mark Allen Lindsay and I signed my name and then everybody else signed their name and Paul’s name was signed Paul Revere Dick, that was his full name.
Then he looked over at us and said, ‘Paul Revere…Paul Revere, Paul Revere, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait…a…minute! That’s a great gimmick. I mean the Downbeats are okay but Paul Revere now that’s a hook. Everybody knows Paul Revere’s ride come on.’
He said, ‘I’m going to call this band Paul Revere & the Nightriders or something’ and Paul especially hated it because he’d been teased all his life in school about, ‘Hey Paul Revere- where’s your horse?’ So he just dropped his first name Paul and went by the name Revere Dick. But when our first record came out, our first record said Paul Revere & the Nightriders. And although the name (Using Paul Revere) did cause some confusion but it’s probably a lot like The Dave Clark Five where Mike Smith was the lead singer and Dave Clark (the drummer) was the name of the band.”
There are so many bands running around out there without the original lead singers anymore.
“Well, what are you going to do…what are you going to do. But when you see the Happy Together tour you’re going to see the real deal here, I’ve sang every hit that Paul Revere & the Raiders ever had. And Mark & Howard from The Turtles, if they’re not the real deal then I never saw one.”
I’m really looking forward to the show, and I’m hoping to get a pass to cover the show from backstage. I want to take a lot of pictures.
“Tell them Mark said that they’d better do it or I won’t do “Kicks.”
I’ll definitely tell them that. My favorite Paul Revere & the Raiders tune has always been “Good Thing.”
“Yea we’ll be doing that, I love that tune, when we do it on stage it sounds just like we did on the record. The guys in the band all sing like birds or The Byrds -I’m not sure. But I do my best to make the stuff that we do sound like in the day or better you know. So there you go.”
You’ve always had a great voice and your voice today sounds like your only 35 years old and it appears that you take really good care of yourself. (Mark is 69 years old)
“Well, I walk six miles a day; I get up around three or four in the morning and out by sunrise. That’s where I write, I’ll be on the trail. I try to eat right and exercise another hour when I get back home. So when I went in for a checkup recently my doctor said, ‘Whatever you’re doing don’t stop it’ (After getting a recent physical his doctor said you could be 25 years old).”
After Paul Revere & the Raiders you worked as an A&R executive with United Artist Records?
“Yea, I thought I was qualified, I’d been an Artist, Producer, Writer, a Publisher, so I thought I knew how to pick songs and it was a lot of fun and I did pick some hits. I had a great run there until Capitol bought the company and just like a radio station, somebody came in and said okay we’ve got your job now.”
“What kind of hits did you pick?”
“The first project that they gave me was the City to City album by Gerry Rafferty. They said, ‘Any hits on here?’I said, ‘Well, let me take it home and I’ll let you know.’ So I went home over the weekend and came back and said ‘Okay, Baker Street is a monster, it’s going to be about a million-seller, it’s way too long but we can edit it down. And they said, ‘What’s the next connection?’ I said ‘”Right DownThe Line,” not as big as “Baker Street” probably won’t sell quite a million -maybe eight hundred-nine hundred thousand, and the third single should be “Home And Dry” maybe three hundred-four hundred thousand but that’s about it.’ And they said, ‘You’re on!’
So we released “Baker Street” and nobody’s playing it. So I went to Charlie Minor, the head of promotions and said, ‘Let me sit in your office, when you make all these calls to the stations and I’ll get on the extension. Ask them if they’re on it yet and, if they’re not, why they’re not playing it. Don’t give them reasons to play it. Ask them why they’re not playing it.’ So he did and I listened and wrote down all these notes.
One station said, ‘Well, the guitar is a little too raucous for our format.’ Another said, ‘That sax thing shouldn’t be at the front, it should be at the end.’ And so on and so forth.
I had a little studio in my house. I went home, got out a razor blade and made 17 different custom edits for these 17 stations. I threw them on Charlie’s desk on Monday morning and said, ‘Okay, send these out and ask them why they won’t play them now.’ And I guess maybe they were so flattered that we’d made a custom edit for their station – now, with digital stuff, of course everybody makes their own custom edits. But they had said, ‘We’ll take you on temporarily,’ so when that happened they said, ‘Okay you got the gig.'”
Do you still talk with Paul (Paul Revere Dick) at all?
“We talk occasionally; we haven’t played together for years. You guys are always asking me would you ever do something together and there was awhile when I’d say no but nowadays I don’t give a crap you know, why not? It might happened, it might not, if it does fine, if doesn’t that’s cool too.”
It seems like Paul’s version of the band took a totally different direction with more of a comedic flare, almost like a lounge act.
“Paul is a great natural comedian; when he grew up his heroes were like Danny Kaye and the Marx Brothers and people like that. And he just loved comedy. Now he’s got a band and he does comedy bits and they play the hits and it’s entertaining but it’s not the Raiders that I remember. But as long as he’s putting people in the seats he’s doing the right thing.”
Mark, I want to thank you so much for spending some time with me today, and I look forward to meeting you in person backstage at The Happy Together show at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on July 19th.
“I look forward to meeting with you Ray, thank you.”