As the namesake and musical ringleader behind Paul Revere And The Raiders – the band he astonishingly led for more than a half century – Paul Revere Dick leaves behind a legacy that is as stunning for its lack of critical recognition, as it is for its lasting, continuing influence.
The man known to classic rock fans as Paul Revere passed away at his Idaho home on October 4, 2014, due to causes which have not been disclosed (although it was known he was battling a number of medical issues in recent years).
He was 76 years old.
Although Paul Revere And The Raiders reign as one of the biggest bands in rock was brief, they produced an amazing string of singles from roughly 1965-67, that more than holds its own against anything else from the same period (including more historically celebrated bands like the Who, Stones, Animals and Kinks).
Songs like “Just Like Me,” “Kicks,” “Hungry,” “Good Thing,” “Ups And Downs,” “The Great Airplane Strike,” and “Him Or Me (What’s It Gonna’ Be)” are textbook examples of gritty, R&B influenced rock much closer in spirit to their Northwest based, garage band counterparts The Sonics, Wailers, and Viceroys, than the bubblegum teen-idol image that ended their chart dominance nearly as quickly as it began.
They were also a formidable live band (and my own first rock concert experience, at a wide-eyed 12 years old). Seeing them in their classic incarnation, I remember being hypnotized by Revere’s trademark organ runs and over-the-top showmanship, the throbbing bass runs of Phil “Fang” Volk, and especially lead vocalist Mark Lindsay – who despite his pretty boy looks (or perhaps in part, because of them), was simply an amazing rock and roll frontman. You couldn’t take your eyes off him.
Their last significant hit (and first #1 Billboard chart-topper), 1971’s “Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)” was also something of a last gasp for the band, and was really more of a solo vehicle for Mark Lindsay than anything resembling the frenetic party-rock of their glory years.
Despite producing an unprecedented run of hits – the likes of which other bands would kill for – Paul Revere And The Raiders have never really been given the respect they historically deserve. Part of this is understandable, given their historical American Revolution gimmick (complete with matching suits), Mark Lindsay’s teen idol looks (which often competed for face time in the teen rags with the Monkees Davy Jones), and their connection to Dick Clark via their weekly appearances on the beach dance party show “Where The Action Is.”
But the fact that the bubblegum image continues to dog them now seems unfair at best. Particularly given the recent Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductions of equally, and even more gimmicky bands like Kiss (whose origins of theatrical stagecraft can be traced directly back to…well, you guessed it).
Not surprisingly, there have been a number of campaigns to get Paul Revere And The Raiders into the Rock Hall over the years. Rumor has it that the E Street Band’s Steven Van Zandt has been one of the more vocal advocates for their induction. Paul Revere And The Raiders have other high-profile fans as well. Their songs have been covered by the likes of Joan Jett, David Bowie and The Who (Roger Daltrey’s early vocal style has even been said to have been influenced at least in part by Lindsay). Punk rockers like the Ramones, Clash and Sex Pistols were all reportedly fans as well.
Which leads us back to Paul Revere Dick himself.
Once the glory years were over, Paul Revere continued to lead various incarnations of his namesake Raiders, through the subsequent decades leading right on up to his final bow this past weekend.
He continued to wear the funny hats, and by all accounts exude the “show must go on” mentality of giving his all for the loving audiences that continued to come see him. Even if the crowds at the casinos and country fairs of the oldies circuit were smaller than those he once knew during Paul Revere And The Raiders mid-sixties hey-day.
Googling the numerous stories on the internet in the wake of his passing, you’ll find the usual posthumous reports of how great a guy Paul Revere was. But the thing that seems to stand out the most was the way he exuded grace, humor and class right up until the end. None stand out more than the eulogy, signed by “everyone who has ever met you” that appears on Paul Revere And The Raiders official website, a portion of which we’ll repost immediately below:
You loved Christmas like no one else. You loved Disney World, old movies on TCM, rocking chairs on the porch, Sunday mornings at home with your wife, a nice fire in the fireplace and a big bowl of popcorn – you absolutely just loved life!
But now you have passed on. By your example, both professional and personal, you’ve left a blueprint of how to live a life full of love, laughter and happiness. The world will be a lot less fun, a lot less kind and gentle without Paul Revere in it. Your larger-than-life absence will leave a void in our hearts and our lives.
Here are some videos from Paul Revere And The Raiders various television appearances in the 1960s. The first one is particularly funny as it shows Ed Sullivan impatiently rushing them along.
R.I.P. Paul Revere.
*Article first published at Blogcritics.