In the summer of 2013, my closest friend and partner in all things music-related gave me a parting gift. It was a bag full of music magazines from the 1960s and early 1970s. It included everything from an issue of Time with The Band on the cover to issues of Teenset and Hit Parade. Those magazines were directly aimed at the teenybopper crowds. The issues were full of articles with titles like “What Kind of Girl Does Davy Jones Like?” and “Will Mickey Dolenz Ever Find the Girl of His Dreams?” (The implication, of course, was maybe it was you.) Clearly the Monkees were the band. The Beatles figured prominently as well, but they were written about almost as if they existed on another plane.
The second most popular band in those magazines, with enormous amounts of ink spilled in slavish devotion, was the now largely forgotten Paul Revere and the Raiders. It’s kind of a shame that few people know them or remember them now. Sure, they looked ridiculous in their tri-corner hats and Revolutionary War-era garb. Paul Revere (yes, that was his real name), like Manfred Mann and Dave Clark, was not the focus of attention in his own band. Revere stayed in the back, playing keyboards while singer Mark Lindsay was the public face in all those teenybopper magazines. There was nothing hip about them at all, and hip was an important consideration in the music industry then, just as it is today.
But hip or not, the band released a handful of great singles. “Just Like Me” is a flat out mid-60s classic, as is “Kicks”, a song that took a strong anti-drug stance in an era where drugs were being celebrated in music. “Him Or Me, What’s It Gonna Be?” and “Good Thing” were all tough rockers whose energy and attitude belied the gimmick of the band’s dress code.
The band scored one hit in the 1970s, the cheeseball AM-radio standard “Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)” and then sank into obscurity before hitting the Oldies tour circuit.
Now Paul Revere has died at the age of 76. Like his namesake, he represented America when the British were invading. He played a small part in rock history, but that handful of singles still shine as brightly now as they did almost fifty years ago, long after songs by more well-known bands have become dated relics of a bygone era. RIP.