The Cause and Effects of Early Raiders on Northwest Musicians and Friends
by Sam Carlson, WI
For those Raiders fans among you who did not grow up in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1960's, you missed something about Paul Revere and the Raiders that only those from that region experienced. Until the Raiders became big national stars they belonged to that strange group of native Northwesterners who believed that going formal was wearing a tie with their flannel shirt. To this day that group insists that the Raiders were only on loan to the rest of the nation so that their culture might spread and improve the lot of the average American. I think it worked. Aren't we musically better off today than we were before the Raiders came on the scene?
I only recently joined the ranks of subscribers to Mark's Steppin' Out. What led up to my subscribing is a long series of events that started for me back in 1962. I can not recall if at that time I had even heard of the Raiders. I was living in Tacoma, Washington, where the local musical phenomenon was a regionally popular group the Wailers (not to be confused with Bob Marley and the Wailers). Like so many thousands of wanna be rock star teenagers, I was attending a dance at the Crescent ballroom in Tacoma where the Wailers were performing, and dreaming of attaining their success. Of course, the guys I was with all agreed that we should start our own band. Ability to play an instrument was no barrier. I instantly became the bass player. Unfortunately, our new garage band never got past making a lot of noise in our garage which could not pass for what most might call music.
Up to that time we had led a sheltered life. The only first hand knowledge we had of bands was the Wailers who already produced a nationally charting record, Tall Cool One, an instrumental, and had recently released another song, Louie Louie. Though popular throughout the Northwest, Louie Louie would not become nationally popular until recorded and released almost simultaneously by the Raiders and The Kingsmen in 1963. The Raiders may have been around at that time, but I didn't know it. I was blinded by loyalty to those Boys from Tacoma, The Wailers. It took my father's transfer to Hampton, Virginia to wake me up to the music world outside of Tacoma.
While in Virginia from 1962 to 1963, a friend and I repeated what my other friends tried to do in Tacoma by forming another garage band that performed an East Coast variety of beach music. This band actually got beyond making strange noises in the garage and was even given a name, The Invaders. I don't think we were particularly good but we tried to be entertaining and were eventually 'adopted' by the local Top 40 radio station, WGH in Hampton. Through sheer repetition at all the gigs WGH was getting for us we got better. As this band was increasing in local popularity, Dad decided to retire from his job and we moved back to Tacoma. I was certain my musical career was at an end. Before leaving Virginia in October of 1963, I wrote to the only musical group I knew, The Wailers, and asked the if they knew of any bands in the area that might need a bass player. To my Surprise, they did.
Immediately after arriving back in Tacoma, I met up with my new friends in a new band The Regents. These guys actually could play musical instruments and make music, unlike my first Tacoma garage band. In short order we were getting money to play at local dances. At about this time I have my first clear recollection of that "new band", Paul Revere and the Raiders who had become immensely popular in the region. They were putting out a new sound with a gutsy rock-em sock-em sound that took hold of me. When my band gently insisted that I increase my vocal participation in the group from backup to lead vocals, the first songs I picked to do as a lead vocalist were some of the Raider tunes, Louie Go Home and Have Love Will Travel. This was a real challenge for me as a second tenor with a relatively soft voice. Thanks to Mark, I had to expand my vocal strength to try to cover those songs to the best of my ability. The version of Louie Go Home that I covered and had in my vinyl record collection was, to my great disappointment, not the same version later found on Raider CD's I purchased. [Ed. Note - it IS on the Legend CD, but not Midnight Ride or Greatest Hits.] As I think back on it, there were many versions of Raider songs we enjoyed in those days that I can no longer find. Where have those versions been hiding? They were great examples of the early Raiders and need to be released again.
My attempts to imitate Mark's unique voice got me in trouble at school with my music teacher, Mr. Stell. He heard me doing some of those early Raider songs at a school dance at Wilson High School and promptly chewed me out, saying "You are going to ruin your voice singing that rock and roll". I smiled and immediately shot back at him a respectful "Yes sir!". I guess an answer from today's teens in a similar situation might be different. Then again maybe not. Mr. Stell was one teacher any kid of any time period would respect. If anyone could ever have been a model for the Mr. Holland in Mr. Holland's Opus, it was Mr. Stell.
Up to this time, the influence that the Raiders had on me was inconsequential compared to what would happen later. On one memorable weekend evening in 1964 when The Regents were not performing, Dave Roland (drummer), Rich Liebe, Richard Rossiter (guitars) and I decided to go to a local dance at the Tacoma Armory (we didn't know what concerts were in those days... we went to dances). At the Armory that evening was Paul Revere and the Raiders. That was the first time I had ever seen them perform. That was quite an experience! I knew I liked hearing their music and enjoyed performing it, but was totally unprepared for what I was about to see. These guys were not only musicians with good songs, but were also entertainers. What a concept! We were so used to just dancing, listening to the music, studying the techniques of the musicians, and sometimes watching them do some simple dance routines as many of the early bands did. These Raider guys didn't just do simple dance routines. They were wild men! Besides that, they dressed really cool in 18th century garb. Our excitement level went up to new heights after what we saw. We forgot about dancing that night. We just stared at this bunch of crazy people, and in particular, that wacky lead singer and horn player sing songs we never heard on the radio (Ooh Poo Pah Doo, Crisco Party, etc.) while stuffing himself into a wooden rain barrel. [Ed. Note - that was the infamous Crisco barrel!] I had never before, nor have I since, experienced anything like that. All that dancing on stage must have kept them in shape. Looking at the cover of one of their albums, those guys appeared to have thighs of steel.
Immediately after that experience, we summoned the fifth member of The Regents, Billy McPherson (horn payer) to council. We had to do something different. We were a good band, but were not performers like The Raiders. The dilemma we found ourselves in was what were we to do to make ourselves stand out. We talked about getting really neat uniforms like those guys. Nope, couldn't do that! Being a cover band is one thing, but copying a band is another matter. We even tried to come up with some original ideas, but just couldn't. The Raiders were just too original and stole any creative thought out of our young minds. After what seemed like weeks of frustration (probably only a day or two) trying to come up with something new, visiting costume shops and the like, we settled on the few things we could borrow from the Raiders without being accused of theft.
Up to that time we all enjoyed playing our music, but were too reserved to show people how much we enjoyed it. We didn't have to be as wild as the Raiders, but they taught us it was okay to show people we were enjoying what we were doing. All we had to do was be only a little more expressive about the joy we felt on stage. To us this was new and novel, but to the Raiders, it was quite normal, if you could call their zany antics normal.
An important lesson the Raiders, and in particular Mark, showed us was to be ourselves both on-stage and off. All of the Raiders in those early years were quite accessible. It was not unusual for them to mingle and socialize with the audience during their breaks. I can recall several times when I mingled and socialized with them at various places throughout the Northwest, but one time and place in particular stick out in my mind.
That evening my band went to see the Raiders again at a place called Perl's in Bremerton, Washington. Most of our band was there and Mark sat at our table during one of their breaks. Paul, as I recall, looked over at us from the stage, and gave us a big smile and a wave as he fiddled with some of the band equipment. We talked with Mark about many things, but one subject that came up had a great effect on our band and long-lasting effects on Dave Roland, our drummer. Dave mentioned to Mark about his recent inability to hit high notes while singing. Mark indicated that the symptoms might indicate the presence of nodes on his vocal cords, something Mark I believe said he experienced and had surgically removed.. Sure enough, "Doctor" Lindsay was right. Dave went to a doctor who found the nodes and removed them.
Dave timed the surgery during a rare lull in our performances. One of the immediate aftereffects of the surgery was that Dave wasn't allowed to talk for several days. It was nice not to have to listen to Dave for a while. Teasing him and trying to make him talk or laugh was grand fun. Fortunately for Dave and the band, his voice came back better than ever. This increase in the band's vocal ability resulted in an immediate surge in our popularity. THANKS MARK! His advice put a few more bucks in our collective pockets, but I am afraid it is too late for Mark to claim a percentage.
The Raiders had a tremendous influence on the other bands in the Pacific Northwest. I recently was playing an album put out by the Kingsmen, the band from Portland, Oregon, of Louie Louie fame. Much of their later instrumentation and overall band sound was reminiscent of the sound of the early Raiders. Another popular group in the area and pals of ours from the Lakewood area of Tacoma was the Sonics. Many have credited them with being the original "Seattle Grunge" band. One of their songs, Psycho, had original lyrics, but if you cut out the lyrics, the instrumentation and music could have been used by Mark to sing Have Love Will Travel. During the Sonics' live performances, it was easy to pick out the musical influence of the Raiders on their music, even when you didn't count the actual Raiders music they played.
Another group in the area, The Viceroys, covered many of the Raider songs, some of their sound, and experienced an additional indirect Raider influence on their band. One of their guitar players and a friend of our band, Jim Valley, left the Viceroys to join Don and The Goodtimes. The Goodtimes were a good band that also dressed in historical period (not Revolutionary period) costumes. They were also a fine show band that made an appearance or two on the Action Show with the Raiders. From The Goodtimes, Jim moved on to join the Raiders as 'Harpo'. Jim was a good choice. He was just as wild and crazy as the Raiders and could fit in perfectly with them. Though a good fit as an entertainer, the Northwest musician rumor-mill had it that the Raiders made Jim take guitar lessons to improve his musical ability [From Mark: Not true - but with memorable licks like the opening riff of "Kicks", anyone holding a guitar in his hands automatically sounds better!]
All good things have to come to an end. The early Raiders put out a song "Steppin' Out" that foretold of things to come. The draft for the military was quite heavy in those days, and many good bands were torn apart by military service. Ours was no exception. McPherson went on to play with the Air Force Band as an "Airman of Note" supporting the White House and other official government functions. Liebe and Rossiter joined the Army in advance of being drafted. Dave Roland joined the Wailers as their drummer and stayed with them until they broke up in about 1969. I reformed The Regents and we continued until about 1967. At that time, I was about to be drafted too, not too long after securing a recording contract with Etiquette Records and recording a few tunes for them. I have no idea if those songs went anywhere, as the Army removed me from the scene. For my wife and me, "Steppin' Out" became our unofficial song. When I went off to do "Uncle Sam's Deal" she stepped out and I "Gave Back Her Hand".
By the time Uncle Sam was finished with me, I had no band to go back to. Disco had replaced live entertainment. I don't think live music was killed by Disco, but Disco replaced the live entertainers who were taken away for military duty. Anyway, that is my theory. For the next 29 years, I wandered a round the world working and living in exotic places such as Asia, Central America and Europe, and sometimes visited the USA for a year or two at a time. I never lost my love for music, though I had totally given up playing all those years. As so many did, I had to sell all of my instruments when I entered military service. Being away from the USA for so long, I essentially lost out on the late 60's and early 70's music scene in the USA. When I came back, the Raiders that I knew were but a memory.
What were the long-term effect of the Raiders on me? Well, I kept all those early "pre-Columbian" Raider records I had. They gave much enjoyment and brought back many memories. In 1995, I took a job in Wisconsin, leaving my family temporarily in another state. Having much more time on my hands, I started looking up old friends. I found Dave Roland still living in the Seattle area, and still working in the music business. I told Dave that I heard a rumor years back that Jim Valley had been killed in an auto accident in Seattle in the late 60's, which Dave immediately corrected, telling me that Jim was alive and well. I later found out that the person who told me that rumor had mixed up Jim Valley with Robin Roberts, the singer for the Wailers who had done the first rock version of Louie Louie. Rockin' Robin Roberts had been tragically killed back in about 1969, not Jim. Dave told me where Jim was living.
I placed a call to Jim. Unfortunately, all I got was an answering machine with a familiar, though very young sounding voice. I left a message. Days later I received a call. "Sam, it's me, Jim!" I was very excited to find my old friend Jim Valley. I told him "This can't by MY Jim... You sound like a kid." Jim said "I am a kid!" Yes... he is still a kid at heart. It was difficult to contain my excitement and had to explain to Jim that for all these years I thought he was dead, and finding him was like a rebirth in my mind.
During our conversation, Jim asked me if I was still playing. The phone almost went dead with silence until I finally spoke up and told him that I hadn't touched a bass since 1967. I actually felt embarrassed and sad admitting that. Jim told me he was still active in music and working with kids. He sent me some of his wonderful music which I found absolutely delightful.
Finding Jim and Dave gave me the bug to not only listen to more of the old music, but also to find all my old band members, not just Dave. Jim's asking me about my playing gave me the intense desire to take it up again. I bought another Fender P-Bass and started playing again at home. After my family joined me in Wisconsin, I discovered that my wife had inadvertently disposed of the box with all my old vinyl records. Aarrggghhhh... That was like losing my best friend! I immediately went out to replace some of those old songs, and among the first I picked up were three Raiders CDs. Whenever the family was out, I would break out my new bass, my daughter's boom-box and my CDs of the old music. I would place the boom-box on the fireplace mantel and stand in front of the fireplace, facing away so the music would come from behind just as it did with my old band. It was better than nothing, but still not the same as playing with a band again.
I put the Internet to good use trying to find my old band buddies. One day, on a whim, I punched Paul Revere into my Internet search engine and found Mark's web site. I was so very pleased to find him and to discover that he was still active in the business. Mark is still the same Mark I knew. He is still as approachable, friendly and helpful as he was when I first met him 33 years ago. Finding Jim Valley and then Mark Lindsay intensified my desire to find all my old band members and to play in a band again. Both desires were fulfilled.
In March, 1997, after a more than one year search, I found the last of the five 'missing' original Regents. We are now making plans for a reunion this Summer near Tacoma, Washington. It would be great if it were a musical reunion, but just being able to get together after so many years will be thrill enough.
In April, 1997, I participated in my fifth concert in eight months as a performing bass player. Though I hadn't played in almost 30 years, it all came back fast, thanks to the Raiders CDs I bought and played to for a few months, and all the music I still had stored in my brain from the time period 1962-1967. Most of the bass players in the Pacific Northwest back in the early years shared a unique style which I carried forward to this day. As a result I have no problems finding a band that wants me to jam with them. At one recent concert, I announced a song as coming out of the Northwest many years ago. From the audience I heard someone say "Paul Revere and the Raiders". It wasn't a Raiders song I introduced, but the voice from the audience showed me the people still want to hear their music. Next time around I will make sure we do some early Raiders. Now I have to find someone who still has some of that early music. Most of it is still in my head, but not all.
Thirty-three years ago The Raiders and Mark Lindsay made a great impression on me, my band, and made playing music nothing but grand fun. Today, they are still influencing me. I still love to listen to and perform their music. Two of their members, Jim Valley and Mark Lindsay, kept up my excitement level, indirectly helping me to find all my old band members. Jim's asking me if I still played got me playing again, and it turned me into a virtual animal. In a little over a year I have replaced all my old equipment sold in 1967 with three new bass guitars and three amplifiers, one of which was an excellent vintage SUNN bass amp of the type so many of used in the Northwest bands of the 1960's. In many respects I feel as if the clock has been turned back 30 years. All the joy I experienced then is coming back. Thank you Mark, Jim, Paul, and all the old Raiders gang. -- Sam
Elm Grove, Wisconsin
UPDATE: Well, about six years have passed since the above article was written in April 1997. I moved to Atlanta to accept a position there. If a job ever comes up in the Seattle area, I'm homeward bound for good! The old Regents have indeed been getting together in the Seattle area every summer and did again in Puyallup, Washington for the Regents 2000 gig on 29 April. This was the first live gig of the original members since 1965. Sitting in that night on guitar and vocals was Larry Parypa (Sonics). Afterwards, we officially inducted Larry into the band. In September 2002, The Regents united again for an outdoor gig. We had all the original front line members, plus an original Sonics drummer, and our friend, Bill Dean on drums that evening, plus Sonny Schaaf on keys. Both Bill and Sonny were inducted into the band. Thanks again Mark and Jim. You guys had a hand, indirectly, in making this all happen.
Another Update: The Regents got together again in August 2003 to perform at the 1,000 Guitar Louie Louie fest at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma (Paul Revere - Band Director). We had all the old band plus Sue Isekite McNulty, her daughter, Richard's son, and Rich's daughter joining us. A week later we were performing at another fest. The magic was still there. Sue sounded better than ever. Why didn't she tell us she took top female vocalist for Star Search in the late 1980's? She showed the people at the Louie Louie and the other fest exactly why she won Star Search... She's incredible!
After the Louie Louie Fest, I joined a gathering of NW musicians at Maia Santell's place and saw a friendly face (Jim Valley) coming up to me with open arms saying "Sammy, I want to kiss you". I made sure everyone heard me reply "Okay, but not on the lips!".
November 2003 (revised March 2005)
The Regents last performance was in the Summer of 2006 at Rock Out Camp Out near Eatonville. We had all the original front line with Raoul Rossiter (son of our guitarist, Richard Rossiter) on drums. As normal, we performed for an hour with no practice and no set list and even included two songs our Billy McPherson wrote and had never played nor heard before. Bill just told us the key, the changed and what type of beat it was and away we went playing Billy's original songs.
Sammy was recalled out of an 18 year- long retirement from the US Army and placed back on active duty in May 2005. He retired again in March 2010. He spent from late 2007 to the early part of 2010 in Afghanistan so that made it a bit difficult to bring the band back together during his absence.
Another Northwest Musician Writes In
I have just read your most entertaining (and informative) page: The Cause And Effects Of Early Raiders....
To me, they were the first real rock and roll that I ever saw or heard. Sure, I had seen some early rock'n'roll singer in Norway (greasy hair, leather jacket, electric guitar and attitude), and I was aware of Elvis and others. But at 11, seeing PRR live was almost a life changing event. I think that seeing the Beatles on TV just a few months later only confirmed it. I had to play in a rock band!
Unfortunately, I missed the Beatles on their only visit to Vancouver in 1964, but the first BIG concert I ever went to was The Raider, along with The Syndicate Of Sound, The Sunrays, and one other now forgotten group at the Agrodome at the PNE grounds.. The first LP I ever bought was Here They Come. Local radio stations CFUN and CKLG both played the Raiders, and I remember hearing So Fine, Over You and Ooh Poo Pah Do on my little transistor radio. I started collecting their singles for the juicy B-side like The Swim, B.F.D.R.F. Blues (what does that mean?) and other great cuts.
You mention that you lost your collection of 45, including your Raiders records. That is a terrible loss, but there is a large selection that I am sure you already know about available on CD, including the Raiders own site. Though my own collection may have some holes, I have most of the 45s from Beatnik Stick on up to the early seventies, though not all their LPs.
My favorite Paul Revere & The Raiders instrumental track?? Shake It Up!! With You Can't Sit Down as a close second. Orbit is cool too. I don't know if this was unique to Vancouver, but the beat used in Night Train and other similar tunes became know as 'The Seattle Beat'.
Vancouver, BC December 2001
Lone Star Cattle Company
Law Brothers Band