With Paul Revere & the Raiders, co-founder Mark Lindsay sang some of the ’60s most memorable songs, such as “Indian Reservation” and “Kicks.” Though he left the group in the 1970s, their memory lives on with the Happy Together Tour, which arrives at the Granada on Wednesday, July 13, at 7:30 p.m. and features the Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie, Chuck Negron (formerly of Three Dog Night), Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, The Cowsills, The Spencer Davis Group, and Paul Revere & the Raiders’ Lindsay. I talked to Lindsay on the phone about how the tour is like a circus, the ’60s, and the endurance of rock ’n’ roll.
How is the Happy Together Tour going so far? So far, so good. It’s like a circus, a traveling circus, with a lot of moving parts. It’s great, we pull up to a venue, the trucks unload the equipment, though there are no animals to unload, of course. When I say it’s like a circus, there’s a series of acts, and everything has to run smoothly. When the elephants go out, the clowns have to come in, so to speak. So the way the tour works, there are five acts, and one incredible band on stage, and these guys are great musicians and great signers. They have learned all the songs of the artists on the tour, just like the record. That’s their job to sound like the record. If you have the lead signers that were on the original, you’ve got a band. Each act goes on, and there’s exactly a minute between, you don’t even have time to go get popcorn. There’s one band doing five bands, and that makes the transition so much quicker. For two and a half hours, wham bam and ’60’s rock, and that’s what they do.
How long have you been doing the Happy Together Tour? Usually you do a couple years and take a year off, and I’ve been doing this for probably 10 or 15 years. The original Happy Together went out in ’84, and I was on that, so I’ve been doing it off and on with Mark [Volman] and Howard [Kaylan] since they’ve ben doing it. I look forward to it every year. Every year we go out and do 60-80 dates across everywhere.
Paul Revere, one of the co-founders of Paul Revere and the Raiders, recently passed away. Has that had an effect on the songs since then? That’s a good question. I left the group in ’74, a couple years after “Indian Reservation,” which was our biggest hit, so I really haven’t really been with Paul since that time. So when he passed, it was unfortunate and sad, but it really didn’t affect my stage persona or act because I wasn’t working with Paul then.
How does it feel to balance your solo persona and the Raiders material? Do they feel complimentary or in contention? No, not in contention. I would say complimentary. I’ve always been kind, what’s the word, spontaneous. Even though I do the songs with the same arrangement basically, every night’s a little different. The audience is different, the venue is different. The audience is really the other part of the band, they’re what make you. To me, the music makes me perform in a certain way, and the audience brings another dimension to that. So every night’s a little different. I would hate to be totally scripted. I’ve done these songs thousands of times, but first of all, they were great songs. The 60s was an incredibly fertile period of songs and songwriters and hits, and that kind of whole mid-60s genre is very rich. We have a variety of artists that bring that whole gamut, that whole dimension or series of dimensions to the stage. I don’t know if this is the way most tours work or not, but I see a lot of the acts watching the other acts and they’ve seen it a million times so obviously something new is happening or they’re anticipating something’s gonna happen. And it’s true — the songs are the same, but they’re not the same. The emotion, the stuff, whatever that thing is inside of us that makes the music come alive is a little different every night.
Does playing these songs again make you look at growing up in the ‘60s differently or change your perspective on those days at all? Well, yeah, I feel very fortunate to have been there. I’m writing my autobiography, and in doing so, I get to go back and revisit those times. But the big thing about that music, I think, is in every genre of music, from Dixieland to swing to big band, everything had this kind of decade or two maybe of popularity, and then it kind of went away. Everything always moves onto the next thing.
When rock ’n’ roll hit, we had a hit with “Louie Louie.” We and The Kingsmen recorded it at the same time, same studio, same everything. Our version took off and we were sweeping down the West Coast. We had the whole state sewed up, San Francisco, San Jose, and we were ready to break into L.A., and Mitch Miller, who was head of AR of Columbia Records at the time, despised rock ’n’ roll. He only signed us because the suits on the East Coast said [to], all the indies are having success on the ‘45s. So he signed the Raiders, but he hated it. When he was ready to break into L.A. that was a little too close to home for him, so he said kill the record, stop it. His thought was, if he just waited a couple years, this whole fad would go away, and it would all go back to Sing Along with Mitch. Unfortunately for Mitch Miller — who’s unfortunately no longer with us, but I’m not dancing on his grave — rock ’n’ roll has never died. It’s the one that has lived for four, five, six decades now. It’s still there — even though you may not hear it in contemporary radio, you are hearing it on contemporary radio, because its roots are there. The groups that are out there today that aren’t doing rap, that are doing more traditional songs, all have their roots in those bands. You can look into the songs and you’ll see Chuck Berry, Elvis, you see all the roots of rock are intertwined in there somewhere, and that genre, those people that were there at the time, they loved and they support us, they haven’t forgotten. And not only do they know the music but, their kids know the music, and there are three generations of fans out there and they’re all mouthing the lyrics, they all know the words, and the only way that can happen is they must have gotten into their mom and pop’s records. There is a big resurgence in vinyl these days. It’s the one generation [of music] that never died, though I guess classical music has never gone away. Mozart’s doing okay in that idiom.
Is there any part of growing up in the ’60s that you don’t miss, or that you’re glad is over? Well, I have some regrets. Looking back on the mid-60s, the kids, which I was one of at that time, we thought we were actually gonna change the culture, change the world, stop the war, make everything better, make everything cool. Unfortunately, that never happened. There’s that, and there were a lot of drugs around – sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll. Some of the drugs were more benign than others, and some of that people got into some of the harder stuff aren’t with us anymore. They went over the edge. So we lost a few great musicians that way, and I regret that. I wonder what would have happened if a lot of people from that era lived a little longer. But other than that, and you know, looking back – again, because I’m writing the story — I’m kind of examining things a little more closely. Things I wish I could have changed or not done. But once history is passed, it’s passed. You can’t go back and make things right. If you could, the world would be perfect.
Anything else you would like to say? I would like to say that I’d like to see everybody out there that is part of that culture or wants to kind of examine a little microcosm of that culture, you get to see it again. If you’ve never seen a real elephant, it’s there, just like the circus.