By summer 1961, Mark Lindsay had already gotten a first taste of pop music success when “Like, Long Hair,” an instrumental song by his band, Paul Revere & The Raiders, had become a big hit in the Northwest United States and climbed into the top 30 nationally.
What Lindsay didn’t have at that point was much of a grasp on live performance.
That’s when he got a lesson that has served him well in a career that has gone on to last more than 50 years. His teacher, so to speak, was none other than Leon Russell.
With the success of “Like, Long Hair,” Paul Revere & The Raiders were getting offers to tour, but the group was on hiatus while keyboardist Paul Revere was doing military service. So Lindsay, the Raiders’ lead singer, and the Raiders’ record label hatched a plan to hire some Los Angeles session players and tour as Paul Revere’s Raiders.
“It was the best experience I could have ever had because I was this green kid from Idaho, probably 18 or 19 then,” Lindsay said. “One of our first gigs was in, I think, Scottsbluff, Nebraska, somewhere in Nebraska.”
The show was not going well, and after finishing a first set, Lindsay came off stage frustrated. That’s when keyboardist Russell stepped up.
“At intermission, I go back and go ‘Man, this is a tough crowd. I don’t know what to do,’” Lindsay said. “Leon says ‘Look kid, when we go back after this, just give me five minutes and I’ll get them going for you.’ So we get back on the stage, and Leon walks up to the piano, leans back, kicks the top of the piano off the piano. It was flipping into the crowd. He grabs the mike and says ‘Hey kids, you want to (expletive) rock and roll or what!?’ This is Nebraska. Their jaws drop and they went ‘Yeah.’ And Leon Russell put on a seminar for five minutes on how to rock and roll. He did Jerry Lee (Lewis), he did Little Richard, just was screaming. For five minutes, I watched a man, really a showman, a real showman on stage.”
When Revere returned from service in 1962, Lindsay knew what he wanted to do.
“When we got back together in Portland, Oregon, and started the band again, I said ‘Look, we can’t just be a band,” Lindsay explained. “There are a lot of bands. We have to be the best show band that there is. We have to have something different. I would try to do something different and crazy and insane every night, whether it was hanging from the rafters, hanging upside down or have a cord made for my microphone that was hundreds of feet where I could walk into the bathroom and take a leak, anything just to be
At age 75, Lindsay doesn’t swing from the rafters these days, but he can still entertain an audience. And that’s what he’s doing this summer as he joins the “50 Summers of Love” tour.
Lindsay’s set figures to be heavy on the hits he sang with Paul Revere & The Raiders, as well as a few tunes from his solo career.
“We’re doing ‘Arizona,’ ‘Just Like Me,’ ‘Steppin’ Out,’ ‘Good Thing,’ ‘Indian Reservation’ and Kicks,’ you know, just kind of the cream of the crop, and it works
really well,” Lindsay said.
Those songs, among others, coupled with a stint in the mid-1960s as the house band on Dick Clark’s popular weekday television series, “Where the Action Is,” turned Paul Revere & The Raiders into major stars who played to frenzied crowds at the height of their success.
But with rock music changing dramatically by the end of the 1960s, the band’s fortunes waned. Lindsay had a solo hit in 1969 with “Arizona” and then came his most successful tune — 1971’s “Indian Reservation (The Lament of The Cherokee Reservation Indian).” Written by J.D. Loudermilk, it was actually a solo song, but Columbia Records wanted it released under the Paul Revere & The Raiders name. Lindsay agreed, and the song went No. 1.
But that was the last of the hits. And in 1975, Lindsay split from the Raiders. He stayed active in music after that, and in 2003 thought it was time to give up touring. That didn’t last.
Mark Lindsay is performing July 14 at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay as part of the 50 Summers of Love tour.