From the mid-'60s to the early '70s, Paul Revere and The Raiders reigned as one of America's top pop, psychedelic and garage rock groups. Popular songs "Just Like Me," "Hungry," "Him or Me— Who's It Gonna Be," "Good Thing," "The Great Airplane Strike," "Steppin' Out" and anti-drug hit "Kicks" paved the way in the '60s for one of the most impactful singles of 1971, the John D. Loudermilk composition "Indian Reservation."
The band's namesake, Paul Revere Dick, was technically a Harvard man (his birthplace was Harvard, Nebraska). He grew up on a farm in Boise, Idaho, where he met Raiders lead singer and '60s heartthrob Mark Lindsay. Dick, whose name was shortened to Paul Revere in line with the group's Revolutionary War outfits, played keyboards and was a jokester compared to his more serious bandmates.
The band, originally called the Downbeats, first found success in 1961 with "Like, Long Hair," a Top 40 hit for Gardena Records. Revere worked at a mental institution around this time as deferred service (he was a conscientious objector upon being drafted by the military), so Lindsay toured on the group's first hit with Leon Russell as the fill-in keyboardist.
By 1962, the band was based out of Oregon. A 1964 rendition of "Louie Louie," recorded around the same time as the Kingsmen's more famous version, landed the band a deal as Columbia Records' first rock act.
A move to Los Angeles from the Pacific Northwest to work with producer Terry Melcher positioned the band, now featuring bassist Mike "Doc" Holliday, drummer Mike Smith and guitarist Drake Levin, to compete with The Beatles, Rolling Stones and other rock bands associated with the British Invasion.
The group's flashy image and catchy tunes made them television regulars on Dick Clark's Where the Action Is (an American Bandstand spin-off) and other rock 'n' roll showcases as well as the kookiest TV show of them all, Batman.
A revolving door of members brought on board such rockers as future Ricky Nelson bassist Phil Volk, future actor Keith Allison, children's music pioneer Jim Valley and Freddy Weller, a co-writer of multiple Tommy Roe singles and the singer of the 1969 country hit "Games People Play."
The band (now billed as The Raiders) shook up the charts again in 1971 after it recorded "Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)," a cover of rockabilly singer Marvin Rainwater (his 1959 version was titled "The Pale Faced Indian") and British pop star Don Fardon. The Raiders' version topped the Billboard Hot 100 for a week.
The Raiders' recording features two members of Hollywood's famous group of session musicians, the Wrecking Crew. Drummer Hal Blaine and bassist Carol Kaye represent the players that made great songs by the Beach Boys, the Monkees and other American acts greater.
Loudermilk, a cousin of the Louvin Brothers, took creative license (to put it nicely), as no group of Cherokees lives on what's considered a reservation. He shares credit for another song worthy of criticism, Tim McGraw's "Indian Outlaw," because it samples "Indian Reservation."
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