Revering the Raiders

After 40 years on the road, Paul Revere still works hard for the money

After a series of admittedly gooey bubblegum singles ("Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon," "Cinderella Sunshine") in the late '60s, the press labeled the Raiders teeny-bopper lightweights, and FM radio duly resisted playing them. At one point, the group was forced to issue a record to FM DJs under a groovy alias--The Pink Puzz! The song garnered a lot of airplay until disgruntled DJs found out it was really the Raiders and yanked it off the air!

"Pink Puzz was basically a joke we played on the so-called hip music people. It was just to prove a point. It didn't mean shit. People all have their head up their ass," he says, laughing.

But it was no laughing matter. Having dropped the colonial look in 1968, the band's attempts at updating its image failed to take hold. Even the name change from the unwieldy Paul Revere and the Raiders Featuring Mark Lindsay to The Raiders didn't help matters much.

Although the Raiders scored their biggest hit and only No. 1 with "Indian Reservation" in 1971, the days of being a hitmaking machine were over. Mark Lindsay left after a Knott's Berry Farm gig in 1975, and the ersatz Raiders have been filling in ever since.

Although Lindsay and the latter-day Raiders reunited for a one-off show, there's still an antagonistic relationship between Revere and Lindsay and perhaps the other Raiders.

At a reunion instigated by Lindsay, Revere was conspicuously absent. On Lindsay's official Web page, he quotes a critic that describes the new Raiders as "Rip Torn fronting a rock 'n' roll band." And in the recently released tome about 16 Magazine called Who's Your Fave Rave, Lindsay castigates Revere as holding the group back artistically, as well as being only about the money. In the '60s, when it was no longer cool, Revere was called the "moneyman" of the group on the liner notes to Spirit of 67 while Lindsay was painted as the group's swashbuckling "crusading celibate!"

While publicists are prone to exaggeration, no conversation with Revere ever veers far from the language of money. Revere cagily words his feelings about his former partner's ongoing attempts to stay hip and relevant even today with new material. "It's pointless," he says. "I guess he's still chasing the brass ring, trying to be hip.

"Some groups just refuse to get it through their heads that they're an oldies group. It never dawned on me that I'm anything other than an oldies group. So I'm not blowing any smoke up my ass or anyone else's. But evidently Mark's cutting some stuff, great. But what are the odds? Unless you're Julio or Neil Diamond. But if you're going to be a current rock 'n' roller--the Rolling Stones have trouble getting airplay. But that's okay, everyone likes to go into the studio and do their thing."

The new Raiders have some original material, and they mix it in with CDs they sell exclusively on the road, readopting the DIY attitude that put the band on the map with Like, Long Hair. At 60, Revere is still amazed by the amount of work that's out there. And he still seems "Hungry" for it.

"When the smoke clears, I want to be able to feed my kids, see my grandchildren and not have to work at the car wash," he says. "You can piss away the money pretty fast. Being in the rock 'n' roll business is like being a football player. You've only got a short span of use, and when they're done with you, they spit you out, and there's nobody giving you a pension, medical or dental. You're totally self-sufficient.

"Each year I always go, 'I don't say no to anything if the phone rings.' I'm there because I keep thinking next year the phone's not gonna ring. I don't think anyone works more than we do. But I love it; it's fun, and in my mind it still beats the hell out of working."

Paul Revere and the Raiders are scheduled to perform on Saturday, May 2, at Celebrity Theatre, with Steve Ansel and the Jackson Street Band. Showtime is 8 p.m.

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