Paul Revere, leader of the 1960s rock band Paul Revere and the Raiders, died Saturday at his home in Idaho at age 76, according to the band's website.
If the Monkees were a 1960s example of a rock and roll band manufactured for television, then Paul Revere and the Raiders were an example of a band that took TV and used it to become superstars. Mark Lindsay and Paul Revere first played together in 1958 and while they had several brushes with success (including a minor hit with a version of "Louie, Louie"), it wasn't until the mid-1960s that their career really took off commercially.
Part of the success was due to producer Terry Melcher, who moved the band to L.A. where they began cranking out a series of garage rock hit singles. But what drove the band's pop culture status were the regular appearances on network television. Paul Revere and the Raiders became regulars on shows such as Dick Clark's "Where The Action Is" and Revere and Lindsay later hosted their own show, entitled "It's Happening." The band even made an appearance as themselves on an episode of "Batman."
In retrospect, the band was the perfect American rock band for its time. Impressive and authentic music, tied together with an image that was just campy enough to be non-threatening to parents while still seeming a bit counter-culture to teens. No one was going to be scared by a band dressed up in Revolutionary garb and performing all sorts of corny slapstick antics during the songs. But buried underneath all of that camp were some of the best pop rock singles of the era: "Kicks," "Him Or Me" and "Good Thing."
By the late 1960s, the band was undergoing the type of turmoil you see in bands with two such disparate creative sides. Some of the original band left and Mark Lindsay took a tighter creative control of the band's sound. Their albums of that era are balanced between great singles ("Let Me," "Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon," "Don't Take It So Hard") and album tracks that were more psychedelic and harder-edged. By the early 1970s, the band had stripped down to the name "The Raiders." The last commercial success of the band was a pair of 1971 singles, with "Indian Reservation" hitting number one in the U.S. Lead singer Mark Lindsay left in 1975 and by then the band had fallen out of favor with their label and the general public.
But Paul Revere kept the band going until his death, although the band in recent decades had become more of a goofball oldies act than the pop-rockers they were at their creative peak.
Which is too bad, since Paul Revere and the Raiders weren't just 1960s TV fixtures. They were responsible for some of the catchiest pop-rock ear candy of their era.