Initially based in Boise, Idaho, the Raiders began as an instrumental rock band led by organist and founder Paul Revere Dick (January 7, 1938, Harvard, Nebraska – October 4, 2014). The band relocated to Portland, Oregon, when Revere returned from serving in the armed forces in 1962.
In his early 20s, Revere owned several restaurants in Caldwell, Idaho, and first met singer Mark Lindsay (born March 9, 1942, Eugene, Oregon) while picking up hamburger buns from the bakery where Lindsay worked. The circumstance of their meeting was later referred to in the tongue-in-cheek song "Legend of Paul Revere", recorded by the group. Lindsay joined Revere's band in 1958. Originally called the Downbeats, they changed their name to Paul Revere & the Raiders in 1960 on the eve of their first record release for Gardena Records. The band garnered their first hit in the Pacific Northwest in 1961, with the instrumental "Like, Long Hair". The record had enough national appeal that it peaked at No. 38 on the Billboard chart on April 17, 1961. When Revere was drafted for military service, he became a conscientious objector and worked as a cook at a mental institution for a year and a half of deferred service. During the same time period, Lindsay pumped gas in Wilsonville, Oregon. On the strength of their Top 40 single, Lindsay toured the U.S. in the summer of 1961 with a band that featured Leon Russell taking Revere's place on piano.
By summer 1962, Revere and Lindsay were working together again in Oregon with a version of the Raiders that featured Mike "Smitty" Smith (born Michael LeRoy Smith on March 27, 1942 in Beaverton, Oregon), a drummer who would spend two extended periods with the band. Around this time, KISN DJ Roger Hart, who was producing teen dances, was looking for a band to hire. Hart had a casual conversation with a bank teller who told him about a band called "Paul Revere-something". Hart obtained Revere's phone number and they met for lunch. Hart hired the band for one of his teen dances. Soon afterward, Hart became the group's personal manager. It was Hart who suggested they record "Louie Louie", for which Hart paid them about $50, producing the song and placing it on his Sandē label, ultimately attracting the attention of Columbia Records. According to Lindsay, the Raiders were a "bunch of white-bread kids doing their best to sound black. We got signed to Columbia on the strength of sounding like this." Whether the Raiders or the Kingsmen recorded "Louie Louie" first is not certain; however, both groups recorded it in the same studio in Portland, Oregon, in April 1963. By then, the Raiders included Revere, Lindsay, Smith, guitarist Drake Levin, and bassist Mike "Doc" Holliday, who was replaced in early 1965 by Phil Volk.
In 1965, the Raiders began recording a string of garage rock classics. Under the guidance of producer Terry Melcher, the group relocated to Los Angeles and increasingly emulated the sounds of British Invasion bands such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Dave Clark Five, and the Animals, while adding an American, R&B feel. Their first major national hit, "Just Like Me" (No. 11, 1965) was one of the first rock records to feature a distinctive, double-tracked guitar solo, performed by guitarist Drake Levin.
The band appeared regularly in the U.S. on national television, most notably on Dick Clark's Where the Action Is, Happening '68, and It's Happening, the latter two co-hosted by Revere and Lindsay. In November 1966, the band appeared as themselves performing a song on the popular Batman television series in the episode "Hizzonner the Penguin". The Raiders had an endorsement deal with the Vox Amplifier Company through its U.S. distributor, the Thomas Organ Co., with Revere using the Vox Continental combo organ and Volk occasionally playing the Vox Phantom IV bass. When performing, the entire band was plugged into Vox Super Beatle amplifiers. The band was reported to be the first major band in history to tour with all members amplified, including sidemen such as horn players. When Levin left the group in 1966 to join the National Guard he was replaced by Jim Valley, another Northwest musician the Raiders had met during their days playing the Portland and Seattle music circuits. Valley was dubbed "Harpo" by the other Raiders due to a vague resemblance to the famous Marx brother.
Their hits from this period included "Kicks" (Billboard Pop Chart No. 4), "Hungry" (No. 6), "The Great Airplane Strike" (No. 20), "Good Thing" (No. 4), and "Him or Me – What's It Gonna Be?" (No. 5). Of these, "Kicks" became their best-known song, an anti-drug message written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil that was originally earmarked for the Animals. (Mann later revealed in interviews that the song was written about their friend, fellow 1960s songwriter Gerry Goffin, whose ongoing drug problems were interfering with his career and his relationship with then wife Carole King.)
In mid-1967, with three gold albums to their credit, the Raiders were Columbia's top-selling rock group; their Greatest Hits was one of two releases selected by Clive Davis to test a higher list price for albums expected to be particularly popular (along with Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits).
At the height of the group's popularity, Valley, Volk, and Smith left the band. The split happened for a number of reasons, among them being the feeling that the group was prevented from evolving into a more egalitarian creative team, upset at being replaced by studio musicians on recordings, and unhappy with a continued teen-oriented direction while a more serious rock 'n' roll style was emerging. The first to leave was Valley, who then embarked on a solo career. Drake Levin rejoined the band on guitar to finish the spring 1967 tour. Levin, Volk, and Smith flew to New York together when the Raiders were booked to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. Revere was upset about Valley, Volk, and Smith leaving the group, blaming Levin for their departures. Levin showed up at the Ed Sullivan Theater to perform with Volk and Smith for the very last time, but Revere refused to allow Levin to play. Unbeknownst to the group, Revere had hired a new guitar player, Freddy Weller, to perform that night. Levin held no grudges about this; he showed Weller the chords to the songs and watched from the wings as the Raiders made their one and only appearance on Sullivan's show on April 30, 1967. It was the only time that the lineup of Revere, Lindsay, Smith, Volk, and Weller performed together. The following month, Volk and Smith left, subsequently rejoining Levin to form a band called "Brotherhood". Charlie Coe, who had played guitar for the group in 1963, rejoined the band on bass, and Joe Correro, Jr. was recruited as the new drummer.
Changing tastes in the late 1960s rendered the group unfashionable, but they still continued to have modest hits through the rest of the decade, including "Ups And Downs", "I Had A Dream", "Too Much Talk", "Don't Take It So Hard", "Cinderella Sunshine", "Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon", and "Let Me", which became their first gold record. On January 6, 1968, just four months after the cancellation of Where The Action Is, Revere and Lindsay returned to the air as hosts of a new Dick Clark-produced show in which the Raiders made several appearances, Happening '68 (later shortened to Happening). This weekly series was joined from July to September that year by a Clark-produced daily series It's Happening, also hosted by Revere and Lindsay. In August 1968, bassist Coe left the group again to get married; he was replaced by former Action heartthrob Keith Allison. According to author Derek Taylor, the Raiders were seen as "irrelevances. . . . Nervous citizens felt reassured that some good safe things never changed".
Mark Lindsay took more control of the band during this time. He produced all records beginning with Too Much Talk in 1968 and the psychedelic album Something Happening. Lindsay's vision was represented on songs such as "Let Me" and the albums Hard 'N' Heavy (with marshmallow) and Alias Pink Puzz. (According to allmusic.com, Pink Puzz was the identity under which the Raiders first tried to get the album played on FM radio, a gambit that failed though the band kept the joke name for the album title.) The success of "Let Me" allowed Paul Revere and the Raiders to tour Europe with the Beach Boys in the summer of 1969 (they also recorded two songs for the long running German music program Beat-Club at this time). Happening ended its run that autumn. Also in 1969, the band performed a specially written song and appeared in a television commercial for Pontiac's new GTO sports car, "The Judge".
In an effort to change the bands' sound and image, the name was officially shortened to The Raiders, while the 1970 album Collage was an attempt to move in another musical direction. It drew a glowing review from Rolling Stone magazine, with critic Lenny Kaye praising the album's production and remarking that "Mark Lindsay never fails to give the impression that he knows what he's doing. Almost single-handedly, he's brought the Raiders to a stronger position than they've occupied in years". Collage proved to be a commercial failure, however, and Lindsay began to turn toward solo projects. Joe Correro departed after their spring tour ended, to be replaced by his predecessor Mike Smith.
"Freeborn Man", a song written by Lindsay and Allison, has since gone on to be a country rock standard, covered by Jimmy Martin, Outlaws, Junior Brown, and Glen Campbell, among others. The Raiders's biggest hit of the period, "Indian Reservation", was recorded as a Mark Lindsay solo session, although some sources erroneously credit the lead vocals to Weller, who, around the same time, had recorded "Indian Lake" (a cover of the hit song by the Cowsills).
As a promotional gambit, Revere took the unusual step of riding cross-country four times, plugging the song at every market available. His efforts paid off: "Indian Reservation" peaked at No. 1 for one week in July. Paul Revere: "I called the head of Columbia's promotion and told him I was going on a record promotion trip, which was something artists didn't do anymore." "Indian Reservation" became Columbia's biggest-selling single for almost a decade, clearing over six million units. The success of the single was followed by a Top 20 album (Indian Reservation) and the No. 23 hit "Birds of a Feather". The Raiders also expanded to include drummer Omar Martinez and keyboardist Bob Wooley.
In 1972, the Raiders made one last attempt at a pop album, with Country Wine, but Columbia was sinking money into other acts, such as Blue Öyster Cult and Aerosmith, and Country Wine was not commercially successful. The band continued to release singles for Columbia between 1972 and 1975, including "Country Wine", "Powder Blue Mercedes Queen", "Song Seller", "Love Music" and "All Over You", with only "Country Wine" reaching the Top 40 (peaking at 30 on the Billboard chart). Weller and Smith departed on New Year's Eve 1972, Weller being replaced by guitarist Doug Heath. As their chart career faded, the Raiders' concert fortunes dwindled, and they found themselves playing lounges and state fairs as an "oldies" act, a situation Revere found pleasing, but not Lindsay. Referring to a 1973 show at Knotts Berry Farm, Lindsay stated, "That (show featured) one of our bad sets. They only let us do thirty minutes and it's hard to construct a good show. (For this set) we didn't do any of the old (songs)."
In late 1972, the Raiders prepared what was to be their next album, only to have it rejected by management at Columbia Records. A promo was released featuring a song from the album, "Love Music" which did manage to chart, however only reaching #97 on the Billboard charts. To date, the album has not seen a legitimate release, but several songs from the album have found their way as bonus tracks onto various Raiders' compilations. Mark Lindsay at one time hinted that perhaps the album might finally see proper release - even showing a picture of the actual master tape box with track listing, but nothing has materialized yet.
Lineup changes ensued in early 1975, with Mark Lindsay departing the band after a gig at Knott's Berry Farm. Lindsay continued his solo career, having previously landed a hit single in late 1969 with Kenny Young's "Arizona". After two final singles for Warner Bros. records in 1977, Mark turned his attentions to film scoring and commercials. He was also head of A&R (artists & repertoire) for United Artists Records in the 1970s. Keith Allison departed in April 1975, to be replaced by current Raider bassist Ron Foos."
Country music was the choice of former guitarist Freddy Weller, who had much success on the country charts before, starting with his country version of Joe South's "Games People Play" in 1969 reaching No. 2 on the country charts as well as recording albums (his first two solo albums were produced by Mark Lindsay), and Top 10 singles on the country singles charts such as his covers of Chuck Berry's "Promised Land", the Cowsills' "Indian Lake", as well as "These Are Not My People" and "Another Night of Love" for Columbia during this time while with the Raiders, as well as after leaving the Raiders. (Freddy's stint was 1967-73.)
In a memorable event, Revere married for the second time on July 4, Bicentennial Year 1976 onstage at a Raiders show. Revere announced his retirement from the music business at the end of 1976, but was back on the road by 1978 with a new cast of Raiders. Along with guitarist Doug Heath, Revere linked in this period with a group called "Louie Fontaine & the Rockets", and went on the road with them as "Paul Revere & the Raiders", featuring Blair Hill ("Louie Fontaine") as lead vocalist. This configuration even appeared as "Paul Revere's Raiders" without Paul, for a while in 1978. The quintet of Paul Revere, Mark Lindsay, Drake Levin, Phil Volk, and Mike Smith reunited for Dick Clark on national television in 1979 and performed a medley of their biggest hits. The same year "Indian Reservation" was covered by the German group Orlando Riva Sound.
The punk rock and new wave eras would see a wave of interest in the Raiders' music; "I'm Not Your Stepping Stone" was covered by the Sex Pistols, Minor Threat, and Liverpool band the Farm (although the Monkees' cover version was better known than the Raiders' original), and later "Just Like Me" would be covered by the Circle Jerks, Joan Jett and Pat Benatar. David Bowie covered "Louie, Go Home". In 1964, the Who took the song and changed the title and lyrics to "Lubie (Come Back Home)" in 1965. "Hungry" was covered by Sammy Hagar. The Flamin' Groovies tackled three Raiders songs ("Him or Me, What's it Gonna Be?", "Sometimes" and "Ups and Downs") and The Morrells did a country-tinged arrangement of "Ups and Downs" as well. The Paisley Underground, garage rock revival, and grunge movements would all acknowledge the Raiders' influence. "Kicks" was also covered by Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork of the Monkees as one of three new recordings included on their 1986 compilation, Then & Now... The Best of The Monkees.
Mark Lindsay cut a version of "Ups And Downs" in 1994 with Carla Olson, which appeared on her Reap The Whirlwind album.
Revere continued with a relatively stable lineup through the 80's and 90's, featuring longtime members Omar Martinez (drums and vocals since 1972), Doug Heath (guitarist for the Raiders since 1973), Ron Foos (bass, Allison's replacement in 1975), and lead vocalist Carlo Driggs (who replaced Michael Bradley). Occasional new record releases included the self-produced "Special Edition" in 1983, with Michael Bradley on vocals, and "Paul Revere Rides Again", released in 1983 through Radio Shack stores. They also recorded a home video for MCA Universal in 1996 titled "The Last Madman of Rock 'N' Roll". Revere's son Jamie joined the band on guitar for several years in the 1990s, featured on "Generic Rock & Roll" (1992) and "Generic Rock 2" (1996).
On September 19, 1997, the group's classic 1966 Midnight Ride lineup (singer Mark Lindsay, guitarist Drake Levin, bassist Phil "Fang" Volk and drummer Mike "Smitty" Smith) reunited in full costume (though without Revere himself) for a 30th anniversary performance in Portland. In 2000 Sundazed Records released a two-CD package entitled Mojo Workout that focused on the R&B and soul sounds from early in the Raiders' Columbia career. In 2001, the Raiders released "Ride to the Wall", featuring several new songs, along with their versions of 1960s hits, with proceeds going to help veterans of the Vietnam War. They performed at Rolling Thunder's Memorial Day event in Washington D.C. in 2001 for POW-MIA's of the Vietnam era. A steady touring schedule kept Paul and his "new Raiders" in the public eye. Keith Allison, who played in the Raiders from 1968 to 1975, has since gone into acting, and appeared in the film Gods and Generals.
On October 13, 2007, Paul Revere & the Raiders were officially inducted, along with their Manager Roger Hart, into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. In attendance were Mark Lindsay, Phil "Fang" Volk, and Roger Hart to accept their awards. In 2010, the band was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame. Revere announced his retirement from the band in August 2014; the group plans to tour without him as "Paul Revere's Raiders". In October 2014, the band's web site announced that Revere had died "peacefully" on October 4, 2014, at his Garden Valley, Idaho home, a "small estate overlooking a tranquil river canyon", after a battle with cancer. He was 76 years old. On October 10, 2014 at the Los Angeles Forum, Tom Petty performed "I'm Not Your Stepping Stone", dedicating it to Paul Revere, acknowledging his passing that week.
Volk tours with his own band, Fang and the Gang. Since 1967, he has been married to Where The Action Is regular Tina Mason. After leaving the Raiders in 1967, Jim Valley continued to perform and hone his songwriting skills in a variety of acts. In the early 1980s he was encouraged by educational professionals to use his musical talent to help inspire school kids. He is an acclaimed and award-winning children's music artist and educator, traveling the world as an emissary of the "Rainbow Planet". Valley continues to write and record his own albums.
Joe Correro Jr., the Raiders' drummer from 1967–1971, performs as part of the Los Angeles-based Richard Sherman Trio jazz combo. Bassist Mike "Doc" Holiday and guitarist/bassist Charlie Coe made a special guest appearance with Mark Lindsay at a show in Boise, Idaho in 1996. They both reside in Idaho. Righteous Brothers Bill Medley's son, Darrin, sang and performed with Paul Revere & the Raiders.
Another Darren, Darren Dowler, followed Darrin Medley as lead vocalist of the Raiders. Coincidentally, Darren Dowler also sang with Darrin Medley's father's group, the Righteous Brothers Band singing the parts formerly sung by tenor, recording great Bobby Hatfield. Dowler, the current vocalist, has also performed with the Lettermen, the Jordanaires, the Fifth Dimension, Gary Puckett, Mitch Ryder and was the first guitarist for the Backstreet Boys in 1991 before they hit mega stardom. Dowler, also an actor and filmmaker, appeared in such films as Eagle Eye with Billy Bob Thornton and Hancock with Will Smith. In 2014 he starred in, wrote, and directed the films Rock and Roll the Movie and Christmas In Hollywood. In 2014, Revere commissioned Dowler to compose an album of original songs for a new Raider album, the first all original album in 35 years.
After ending his second stint with the Raiders in 1972, drummer Mike "Smitty" Smith moved to Kona, Hawaii and continued performing for several groups in that region. Smith died of natural causes on March 6, 2001, three weeks before his 59th birthday.
Guitarist Drake Levin became an accomplished blues guitarist, playing in and forming numerous groups in the San Francisco Bay Area. On July 4, 2009, Levin died at his home in San Francisco after a long battle with cancer. He was 62.
The group's founder, vocalist and keyboard player Paul Revere died of cancer at his home in Garden Valley, Idaho on October 4, 2014, aged 76. His funeral, held at the Cathedral of the Rockies in Boise, Idaho, was attended by, amongst others, former Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne.
Carl "Carlo" Driggs, Paul Revere & the Raiders' longest-serving lead singer (a 20-year-plus span), was formerly lead vocalist for Kracker, a band that toured Europe as an opening act for (and had their albums distributed outside America by) the Rolling Stones. He followed this with his tenure in the Latin/disco group Foxy, who scored a No. 1 hit on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart (No. 9 on Billboard Hot 100) with "Get Off", which was co-written by Driggs. On May 31, 2017, Driggs died of a heart attack at his home in Miami, Florida, at the age of 67.Doug Heath - guitar (1973–1977, 1978-1979, 1980-present)
Ron Foos - bass, guitar (1975–1977, 1980–present)
Danny Krause - keyboards (1980–present)
Jamie Revere - guitars (1990-1997, 2014–present)
Darren Dowler - lead vocals (2008–present)
Tommy Scheckel - drums, vocals (2010–present)
Paul Revere - keyboards (1958–1977, 1978-2014)
Mark Lindsay - vocals, saxophone (1958-1975)
Robert White - guitar (1958-1961)
Richard White - guitar (1958-1961)
William Hibbard - bass guitar (1958-1961)
Dick McGarvin - drums (1958)
Red Hughes - vocals (1958)
David Bell - drums (1958-1959)
Jerry Labrum - drums (1959-1961)
Andrea Loper - vocals (1960)
Mike "Smitty" Smith - drums (1962-1967, 1971–1972)
Ross Allemang - bass guitar (1962-1963)
Steve West - lead guitar (1962)
Pierre Ouellette (1963)
Dick Walker - lead guitar (1962-1963)
Charlie Coe - lead guitar (1963), bass guitar (1967-1968)
Drake "Kid" Levin - lead guitar (1963-1966, 1967)
Mike "Doc" Holliday - bass guitar (1963-1965)
Phil "Fang" Volk - bass guitar (1965-1967)
Jim "Harpo" Valley - lead guitar (1966-1967)
Freddy Weller - lead guitar (1967-1973)
Joe Correro, Jr. - drums (1967-1971)
Keith Allison - bass guitar (1968-1975)
Omar Martinez - drums, vocals (1971-1977, 1980-2006)
Robert Wooley - keyboards (1972-1977)
Blair Hill - vocals (1978-1980)
Michael Bradley - vocals (1980-1983)
Carlo Driggs - vocals (1983-2004)
1961: Like, Long Hair
1963: Paul Revere & the Raiders
1965: Here They Come!
1966: Just Like Us!
1966: Midnight Ride
1966: The Spirit of '67
1967: A Christmas Present...And Past
1967: Greatest Hits
1968: Goin' to Memphis
1968: Something Happening
1969: Hard 'N' Heavy (with Marshmallow)
1969: Alias Pink Puzz
1971: Indian Reservation
1972: Country Wine
1972: All-Time Greatest Hits
1982: Special Edition
1983: The Great Raider Reunion
1983: Paul Revere Rides Again
1985: Generic Rock & Roll
1992: Generic Rock & Roll (a.k.a. Live NOT)
1996: Generic Rock 2 (a.k.a. Live NOT)
2000: Time Flies When You're Having Fun
2001: Ride to the Wall
2005: Ride to the Wall 2
2010: The Complete Columbia Singles
2011: Flower Power, produced by vocalist Darren Dowler