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NIGHT LIFE / THE CLUB SCENE

Just a Lone Raider : Ex-Paul Revere sidekick Mark Lindsay will stir up some memories Friday night in Port Hueneme.

August 06, 1992|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

As former front man of Paul Revere & the Raiders, Mark Lindsay was at the epicenter of where the action was back in the '60s--the decade your parents say they remember and then get hazy when it comes to any details.

Lindsay, yet another veteran rocker on that ol' comeback trail, will stir up some memories Friday night when he performs in Port Hueneme at the Dorill B. Wright Cultural Center. The "view tax" for this one will be a dozen bucks.

Paul Revere & the Raiders had 20 consecutive Top 20 singles in the '60s and early '70s and sold 50 million albums. The Raiders were like the Marx Brothers with a beat, or the Monkees with George Washington's tailor--they all wore Revolutionary War uniforms.

Raiders songs such as "Kicks," "Good Thing," "Hungry," "Just Like Me" and "Him Or Me" still live long and prosper on AM radio. Then the band got a gig on a Dick Clark syndicated five-day-a-week rock show, "Where the Action Is," sort of an early precursor to MTV. Lindsay's face, seen over 1,000 times on network television, became famous.

Lindsay's story began in Idaho where he listened to country music and not much rock because Idaho radio didn't rock. A friend from L. A. sent Lindsay rock 'n' roll records and the skinny kid was hooked.

"I entered a talent show and won first prize," said Lindsay in a recent phone conversation. "I sang "Don't Be Cruel,' and the judges told me that I--this was before lip sync--mouthed the words very well. But I really did sing, and I thought if I sounded like the guys on the radio that this is what I wanted to do."

Next, enter Paul Revere, tired but still going strong after a 200-year ride that left him in Caldwell, Idaho. Oops, different Revere. Anyway, the musical Revere used to own a drive-in restaurant and he had a competitor not far away. Rather than firebombing his rival off the map, Revere decided the way to attract youngsters to his business was to provide live music. He started a band.

"Paul's band was playing one night, and I sang one song but I was so shy, I ran out right afterwards," said Lindsay. "I worked at a bakery then and the next day Paul came in to pick up his buns and he was telling me about this wild, crazy, skinny kid that sang last night. I took off my glasses and told him it was me. After that, he handled all the business and I took care of the music for the group."

Relocated to Portland, the band took the next step to rock 'n' roll stardom by recording a hit record, only it wasn't their hit record. The song was "Louie, Louie," a major hit for the Kingsmen who beat them to it.

"We recorded 'Louie, Louie' at nearly the same time as the Kingsmen and in the same studio too," said Lindsay. "They had the hit, but we got signed to Columbia Records on the strength of our version of that record. We were the first rock band they ever signed, and they had no idea what to do with us. Mitch Miller was head of A&R (Artists and Repertoire) and they had people like Doris Day and Percy Faith."

Which brings us to that controversy that still exists to this day: Was "Louie, Louie" really the nastiest song ever written or did the singer just mumble?

"There weren't any nasty lyrics," said Lindsay. "The song was originally a Jamaican love song that was sung in sort of broken English like '. . . me sail de ship across the sea . . . ' Anyway, the engineer only had one mike and it was suspended from the ceiling so we wouldn't spit in it. Plus, the singer for the Kingsmen had real thick braces--that's why the song sounds the way it does."

Next for the Raiders came the herd of hits, "Where the Action Is," guest appearances on Ed Sullivan, touring and the adulation of young girls everywhere.

"Being a teen idol was pretty heady stuff in those days," recalled Lindsay. "Girls would write me letters and send me their panties. Also, we got to meet just about everybody except the Beatles. The Rolling Stones opened for us once in Pittsburgh."

Then came the dreaded "creative differences" and the inevitable Splitsville.

"Music was becoming more and more sophisticated and--I got to tell you the truth--we were pressured by CBS to use studio musicians," said Lindsay. "They'd tell us 'Hey, you guys can't take a whole month to do an album.' Besides, 'Just Like Me' was about the musical limits of the band.

"We continued to tour, but I just started getting tired of doing the same thing every night. It seemed we were becoming some sort of Vegas act. As the '70s began, we weren't allowed to make serious music. We were typecast as class clowns, which we were, but it was hard to change that image. It just wasn't as much fun anymore."

After Lindsay left the band officially in 1974, he did about everything in the music biz except perform onstage. He wrote commercials, scored movies, and was an A&R executive for United Artists.

"When I was doing A&R these people would come in with a tape and say 'this is the new Fleetwood Mac,' " said Lindsay. "And I'd say, 'Don't we already have one of those?'

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