It was 1958 when 20-year-old Paul Revere (born Paul Revere Dick) met fellow Idahoan, 16-year-old Mark Lindsay. Revere ran a drive-in restaurant in West Boise. One day he started chatting with Lindsay while he was delivering hamburger buns.
They discovered that both were consumed by the love of rock ‘n’ roll and each aspired to become a professional musician. A year later, keyboardist Revere formed the Downbeats. Lindsay was at the forefront with her powerful, emotional voice and teen idol beauty. Soon the group changed its name and prepared for fame.
In 1963, Paul Revere & the Raiders became the first rock band signed by Columbia Records. This signing was a stark departure from his mainstream releases of the time by Tony Bennett, Andy Williams and Doris Day.
Decked out in Revolutionary War garb and powered by the manic energy of Revere – he was often referred to as a “rock ‘n’ roll madman” – the quintet became the house band of Dick’s “Where the Action Is” Clark in the mid-1960s. “American Bandstand” spin-off.
Revere once proclaimed, “We were visual, fun and crazy, and we were America’s answer to the British music invasion.
With producer Terry Melcher (Doris Day’s son) at the console of the recording studio, Paul Revere & the Raiders recorded 13 Top 40 Columbia singles between 1965 and 1969. By the end of the decade, however, success that had once come so easily seemed to be evaporating. Lindsay recorded solo and released a Columbia Top 10 hit titled “Arizona”. For all intents and purposes, however, Paul Revere and the Raiders seemed destined for rock-star scrap.
But, in 1971, “Indian Reservation” (a 1968 minor hit here by British artist Don Fardon) provided Revere’s band – now simply called Raiders – with a comeback. It would become their only record to reach No. 1 and would ultimately become the best-selling 45 at this point in Columbia’s 82-year history.
“Indian Reservation” strung together in a rhythmic minor key, with a hypnotic combination of drums and bass fueling the melody at a relaxed tempo while Revere’s electric keyboard provided the melody line.
The lead singer explained that “Indian Reservation” was “going to be a (solo) single by Mark Lindsay. … It was my choice to release it as Raiders.
The full title of the song was “Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)”. Songwriter John D. Loudermilk composed it in 1959 as “The Pale Faced Indian” when he blended historical truth and pop culture myth into a story that mourned the degradation of Native Americans by the white man:
They took the whole Cherokee nation
Put us on this booking
Took away our ways of life
The tomahawk and the bow and the knife
Footnote: The Cherokees never went on a reservation. Once residents of an area that spanned five southeastern states, they were taken to Indian Territory (largely to the future state of Oklahoma) in the forced relocation that became infamous under the name Trail of Tears.