march 2011


‘We’re Not In The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Can You Believe That?’


By Christopher Hill

Let us not talk falsely now, as the Joker said to the Thief, so here’s a granular bit of truth from the 1960s that you might not get from the Revised Standard Rolling Stone Hall of Fame Canonical History of Rock & Roll. The distinctions that are made, in retrospect, between serious and lightweight music from that era, between high pop and low pop, between history-making art and disposable kitsch, were not nearly so obvious at the time as they seem now. The icons of the era, the Beatles, Stones, Dylan, etc., did not occupy the heights alone. In the interstices between their slots on the charts, lots of other music thrived. And—here’s the important fact—that other music was listened to, and dug, and taken “seriously” by the same people, the same kids, who put the Beatles/Stones/Dylan, etc. on the charts. Which brings us to Paul Revere and the Raiders.

The fact is that there were millions of real rockers who logged just as much time listening to Paul Revere and the Raiders between 1965 and 1967 as they did the Rolling Stones. That the kids who made “Like a Rolling Stone” a hit did the same with “Kicks” and “Good Thing.” That there was one point at which serious young men who might one day be rock critics could want to be both John Lennon and Mark Lindsay, the Raiders’ front man, at one and the same time.

Talking about the Raiders raises the larger topic of garage rock. Which runs the risk of turning the conversation serious, and if there’s one thing you shouldn’t be when talking about the Raiders, it’s serious. Nevertheless—the torrent of great one-off or regional hits in the mid-‘60s demonstrates a principle that’s dear to the heart of rock ‘n’ roll: the old football wisdom about how on any given Sunday any NFL team can beat any other NFL team applies to rock & roll too. Groups of four or five anonymous untutored teenagers in anonymous suburbs huddled in rec rooms, basements and garages, could emerge with one shattering burst of inspiration able to hold its own, for its two minutes and thirty seconds, against the best of what the icons were doing.

Paul Revere & The Raiders, ‘Steppin’ Out,’ from the Canadian TV show Swingin’ Time. (1965)

Most of these bands achieved their incandescent instant and then receded back into anonymity. But up in Oregon a young man with the unlikely name of Paul Revere, gifted with canny musical and commercial acumen, could see there was a potential killing to be made if a band could figure out how to turn out these kind of hits dependably.

Paul Revere and the Raiders figured it out.

The first ingredient was a charismatic front man, and that Revere already had in his friend Mark Lindsay. The next piece was a particular kind of sound.

Though Revere and Lindsay personally had no special feeling for the ornery adolescent attitude that propelled garage hits like “Talk Talk” by the Music Machine or “Psychotic Reaction” by the Count Five, they could hear that the product of that attitude was a vividly agitated and abrasive energy that pushed the limit of what the pop music market would tolerate. Early Raiders hits like "Just Like Me" and “Hungry” offered up attention-getting levels of guitar noise ("Just Like Me" featured an unusual double-tracked guitar solo from guitarist Drake Levin, for example). Add a certain frustrated male energy, a la the Stones, which Lindsay could convincingly mimic, and an aptitude for tightly constructed pop songcraft, and the Raiders started making hits.

Paul Revere & The Raiders, ‘Just Like Me’ (1965)

There were other elements that went into the mix, and they were of the highest quality the era could provide. Material from Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, the legendary team behind “On Broadway,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” and “We’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place,” to name just a few; and production from Terry Melcher, the man who engineered the Byrds' ringing sonic cathedral, soon gave the Raiders a big-time sheen.

Live, the Raiders would do almost anything to please an audience (their regular television gig on Dick Clark's Where the Action Is showcased the band’s anything-for-a-laugh Borscht Belt humor). But the thing about the Raiders is that the “anything” they would do included dependably rocking out. If you wanted to rock—and most American teenagers did in 1965—the Raiders would damn well rock you. You could bank on it. The Raiders did.

For a while it seemed that the Raiders’ hits would never stop coming. Eventually Lindsay and Revere were able to assemble tightly constructed pop-rock the way a gifted mechanic can tune a car engine.

Were the Raiders square? Sure they were square, compared the Byrds or even the Chocolate Watch Band. All they really had in common with the emerging counterculture was the length of their hair and a decibel level. But if you were on the Sunset Strip in 1966, the noise from the clubs would have made “Hungry, “Kicks,” “Just Like Me,” part of the vibe on the street.

Paul Revere & The Raiders, ‘Good Thing’ (1966)

As mass Bohemianism flooded the western world in the late 60s, the taste in rock heroes turned toward coolly wasted anti-social artistes. The Raiders had held their own with the Stones, but Jim Morrison’s schtick was one the Raiders simply couldn’t pull off.  But as the curtains were coming down on their time in the spotlight, the Raiders hit a glorious streak and released three of their finest high energy confections in a row—“Him or Me (What’s It Gonna Be?),” “Good Thing,” and “Ups and Downs.” Their native goofiness, previously restricted to between-song antics on stage, slipped its leash and got into the music. They dropped their characteristic hectoring tone towards the opposite sex and just…let go. The three songs comprise a sort of comic response to life’s exigencies. As much as they roared and rocked they had a crazy kind of bounce which suggested resilience rather than aggression, some kind of big slap-happy climax to their career.

Were the Raiders important? Depends on how you define it. They didn’t change the world. But in terms of dependably providing kicks for the kids, they were as good as most of their peers, their streak of “any given Sundays” lasting long enough to leave an imprint on their era.


Mark Lindsay today: ‘You know, Paul, when you get knocked down you get back up. And when you get knocked down, you get back up. And pretty soon life gets tired of knocking you down, and if you get up that last time you make it. I'm going all the way.’

The Mark Lindsay Arc

By David McGee

Christopher Hill penned the above appraisal a year ago this month in reference to a new import collection of Paul Revere & The Raiders’ hits. Columbia/Legacy has a more comprehensive overview out now, The Essential Paul Revere & The Raiders, a double-CD set that contains all the timeless hits Hill cites and adds a few rarely anthologized late-career oddities, such as 1971’s vaguely country-tinged pop-rocker, “Country Wine,” and, from the same Country Wine album, the fuzzed-out grunge of Mark Lindsay’s “Powder Blue Mercedes Queen”; three ambitious cuts from the band’s horn-laden, psychedelicized foray into heavy FM rock, Collage; and a final and not altogether gracious farewell in the form of the Jimmy Webb-penned “Song Seller,” a kind of funky rocker--with horns and a sarcastic attitude--from a stone-cold rocker who can’t get his records played on radio anymore and so takes it out on the promotion department. “Song Seller” is rather unbecoming of the Raiders, who were most effective when either celebrating or bemoaning the state of their love life, and that’s why a lot of listeners might get no further than the first disc of this collection, since it contains the holy grail of perfectly constructed and executed mid-‘60s mainstream rock ‘n’ roll of the fiercest sort.

Paul Revere & The Raiders on Hollywood Palace, ‘The Great Airplane Strike’ (1966)

In his review above, Hill offers the following dyed-in-the-wool truth about ‘60s garage rock: “Groups of four or five anonymous untutored teenagers in anonymous suburbs huddled in rec rooms, basements and garages, could emerge with one shattering burst of inspiration able to hold its own, for its two minutes and thirty seconds, against the best of what the icons were doing.” Applied to the Raiders, I would expand that thought to point out that these pioneers of the Pacific Northwest school of rock ‘n’ roll--they left their contemporaries The Kingsmen in the dust early on--not only held their own against the gods of the day, but were audacious enough almost to mock--in a respectful sense--the big boys on the block, or at least suggest that anything they could do, the Raiders could do as well. The ability to pull this off comes down to Mark Lindsay being nothing less than a great rock and soul vocalist and uncanny mimic to boot. His soul credentials are sometimes overlooked, but he had the spirit in his phrasing and attitude, and it became most pronounced when he went to Memphis in 1971 and cut the terrific Goin’ Back To Memphis album with producer Chips Moman and some of the legendary Stax players (it was released as a Raiders album, but Lindsay was the only Raider at the sessions or on the album). As an example of ‘60s blue-eyed soul, Goin’ Back to Memphis is a stellar exhibit. Four years earlier, though, Lindsay had co-written, with producer Terry Melcher--the architect of the Raiders sound who mentored Lindsay, who later picked up the production reins and kept the hits coming--“Mo’Reen,” a pumping broadside about a duplicitous woman, a story Lindsay tells with the swagger and unsparing disdain of Jagger circa “Under My Thumb”; “Louise,” from The Spirit of ’67 album, opens with the drum riff from “Paint It Black” and when the Raiders enter they’re singing soaring Beach Boys harmonies to set up Lindsay’s withering, Jaggeresque putdown of “Louise,” one of the toughest rockers the band ever cut, unrelenting and crunching from start to finish, which also manages to work in a lift from the Beatles’ “Baby You Can Drive My Car.”

midnightThe programming choices made here offer a Lindsay-centric storyline. Several of the band's early singles--including the Stones-ish career launcher “Steppin’ Out”--are Lindsay-Paul Revere songs, but the biggest hits of the early years--the gritty R&B-inflected “Just Like Me,” the anti-drug manifesto “Kicks,” the lusty-bordering-on-bawdy charge of “Hungry”--are from outside sources (this is not a complaint: the outside sources included Goffin-King and Mann-Weill). Come 1966, though, with the engaging topicality of “The Great Airplane Strike” (one of the band’s great underrated singles and a real show stopper in concert) and the barely restrained lust driving “Good Thing,” the songs are coming from inside the Raiders, and largely from Lindsay in tandem with Melcher; by 1967 Melcher had turned over producer responsibilities solely to Lindsay, who guided the Raiders’ studio fortunes thereafter. What we don’t get here is a sense of the early band’s synergy. In focusing laser-like on Lindsay, the collection includes no contributions from Phil Volk or Drake Levin, who were both contributing good songs in their time: Levin’s “Ballad of a Useless Man,” from the awesome Midnight Ride with Paul Revere & the Raiders album (described, not altogether hyperbolically, in its liner notes as the “American Rubber Soul”) is one of the finest album tracks in Raiders’ history, in fact. On the other hand, Lindsay’s growth--as a writer, as a producer, as a singer and entertainer, as the band’s chief theorist and visionary--is indeed a story unto itself, and its arc is from the beginning to the end of the Raiders’ productive years.

In November 1998, I got together in New York with Lindsay, whom I had met a couple of years earlier in Memphis, to talk about the Raiders’ history on Columbia Records, for an essay to be included in Sony Music’s audacious 100-CD centennial box celebrating the company’s 100th anniversary, Soundtrack For a Century. I was instructed specifically to focus on the band’s early years and development, so the interview is not comprehensive, but in it Lindsay does go into detail about the Raiders’ studio education and some of the tricks the late producer Terry Melcher emplooyed in order to fashion the powerhouse sonics that mark the great Raiders hits. Lindsay is a gregarious type who has great stories to tell, and his account of how the Raiders got off the ground is good inside stuff, especially about how Terry Melcher found out that “52 Hz is the resonant frequency of the female clitoris. And one of the frequencies right around there responds to the male, something we have that gals don't, not the appendage, but under that, and it makes you feel good. Maybe it felt good to Terry and that's why he put it on the records; whatever it was, he was an innovator.” On that note…

Paul Revere & The Raiders, ‘Him or Me--What’s It Gonna Be’ (1967)

Paul Revere & the Raiders were the first rock ‘n’ roll band signed to Columbia. How did the label find you guys?

Ken Bolster was a regional sales guy for CBS. Mitch Miller was head of A&R at the time--this is 1963, I think--and Mitch Miller hated rock ‘n’ roll. But the Beach Boys were just starting to happen, and rock ‘n’ roll was doing really well on a lot of independent labels, so the news came down from Goddard Lieberson [president of Columbia Records, 1956-1971 and again from 1973-1975] to sign a rock act because "it may be a passing fad, but we're missing the boat."

So Ken Bolster happened to be at a radio station where Roger Hart, who was our manager, came through, and we'd just cut our version of "Louie, Louie." And so we had some records pressed up, and Ken came through and said, "What's this?" And Roger said, "That's a record we just cut and put out on my label." He said, "What's the group?" "Paul Revere and the Raiders." "Are they good?" "Are you kidding?"

So Ken Bolster took one of the records, goes down and next thing we know Roger shows up with a contract and says, "They wanna sign you." So at that time, Bruce and Terry and the Rip Chords were on the label, but that was like surf music. We were the first rock and roll group signed to CBS. We got them their first gold album ever for rock and roll, Here They Come. But we actually had five albums that turned gold all within about two years. And yet we're not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Can you believe that?

How did the Raiders get the shot on Dick Clark’s Where the Action Is?

We played a show, the Rolling Stones' first concert on the west coast, at the Long Beach Auditorium. We were one of many, many opening acts. Caesar and Cleo [Sonny & Cher in their original incarnation] were on that show, and she had this long skirt and halfway through she ripped it off and had a miniskirt on; and he got down on his knees and yelled "John! Paul! George! Ringo!" and got screams. But there was a whole plethora of opening acts, we were one of 'em. We did our regular northwest set, I got up on the piano and danced on "Ooh Poo Pa Do" and stuff, and Roger Hart had convinced one of Dick Clark’s secretaries to come along and see the group. She went back and reported to Dick, who was working on a pilot called Where The Action Is for CBS. And he had already inked Jan and Dean, The Supremes, The Four Seasons, Bobby Freeman, and we were hired because we were visual and we could cut filler music, like segue stuff and some music for dance numbers. We agreed to do that.

We were just there because we were visual and cost nothing, basically. Dick Clark knew that we had a good following in the northwest, so he knew he couldn't lose on this one.

Couldn't sell the pilot to CBS. About a year later he gives it to ABC and they liked the idea, so they came to us and said, "Here's the format of the show: we have a male and a female singer, kinda like Snooky Lanson and Giselle McKenzie on Your Hit Parade, and then whatever group's in town will be our guest group, and then you can do cover tunes of whatever's happening, but you'll be the house band and you'll have to cut tracks for Linda Scott and Steve Alaimo."

Paul Revere & The Raiders, ‘Kicks’ (1966)

Paul didn't want to do it. He said, "Man, we could go out this summer. This is our best time." And Roger convinced him to do it, even though we were only getting paid scale, whatever that was. Dick didn't really think the show had much of a shot. The first few episodes of Action it don’t say Dick Clark Productions--if it does it's in real small letters--and he's narrating but you don't know it's Dick Clark. He's never on camera. We were staying at a place called the Hollywood Center Hotel, which was the pits. But it was on Sunset Strip, so it was close. And we were cutting all our tracks at a little four-track studio above a garage run by Armon Steiner, who's now one of the finest symphonic recording engineers around. And it was fun. Listen, we were making music, and we had just cut our first album on CBS, so we had some tracks we could lip-synch to, our stuff. Dick's whole idea, we found out later, was that if the show took off, he’d be able to hire a name band to replace us.

What happened was, after the first 13-week period, one of the girls called and said, "You have to come down and pick up your mail." I said, "What mail?" She said, "Some mail came in from some fans." So I wandered up the street and I came in and said, "Where is it?" She said, "Well I can't give it to you here." And I thought, "Well, something interesting is happening."

She says, "Come with me." Walks in and there's three mail bags full of mail. I think I carried them back myself, because it was like, wow, Santa Claus! Threw 'em on the bed, opened them up. About 95 percent of the mail was like this: "Gee Paul, I love the way you sing such-and-such." Most of the mail was to Paul Revere; some of it was to Mark Lindsay, because I had been introduced. But everybody thought I was Paul Revere. But we took off. And that's when I realized, Wait a minute. This could be something. We only had a 13-week contract, so Revere went in and negotiated a new contract. I don't think we got a raise, but we basically got the show as long as it would run. That was the deal. They could put any band on they wanted, but we would remain the house band. It was the right place and the right time.

I remember being in Idaho and hearing "Surfer Girl" and thinking, "Oh, man, the ocean." A car with California plates would come by and I'd touch that magic rectangle to get some of the vibe. I think I was not alone in this feeling that California was magic. (sings) "If everybody had an ocean"--well, they didn't, but Where The Action Is was mostly shot on the beach, we had babes in bikinis and these crazy guys running around plugging their guitars into rocks and stuff, and it just looked like fun, and it was. The show took off. It really was a precursor to MTV's Grind At the Beach. Our formula up to that time had been, we'd show up in a new town, we'd have half a house or less; next time we came it was SRO.

At that rate, by the year 2K, we might have become popular all over except we'd be older. But the whole country saw us at once, and luckily the whole country liked us. Our show was very irreverent, although we had to really clean it up for Action. We had a devil-may-care attitude and the attitude came across. All the girls thought the guys were cute; all the guys said, "Yeah, I wanna do that, I wanna be in a band." It took off and we became, overnight--we had put out two or three records on CBS, but after the first 26 weeks of Action, the next release it was like--you could just watch the record sales and Action and it's a parallel curve. When Action went off the air for a little while, record sales kinda went down; then we got Happening '68 and they popped up again.

Paul Revere & The Raiders, ‘Hungry’ (1966)

I'd say Action was the single most instrumental device that helped propel Paul Revere and the Raiders to the position they attained. I'll give it 90 percent of the credit. It was the television exposure. We were a fun band to watch, that didn't hurt, and we played good music, that didn't hurt. But if we hadn't had the television exposure I think we'd probably have had a few hits and then, because of the goofy costumes, the first time you saw it it was like, "What are these guys doing?" But that became the trademark, then I got the ponytail. So we were kind of in place when the British Invasion hit, and Derek Taylor, the Beatles’ publicist who had moved to California, became our press agent, and it was like "America's answer to the British Invasion. Who better than Paul Revere to turn away..." you know. So it was a press man's dream.

Did Dick Clark himself become a big supporter of the band?

Obviously he was responsible for giving us this exposure. I and Dick never got real close. He was nice. But he and Paul hit it off. In the very beginning the band broke up and then reformed in Portland. I went down to L.A. to keep the music going--I was 16, 17 at the time. I remember we were sitting in Paul’s '58 T-Bird at his drive-in, and he has to go serve Uncle Sam but he was 1-0, so he had to work in a Federal institution or something like that. So he became a cook in a mental institution in Wilsonville, which was next to Portland.

I remember him saying, "It's all over, Mark." And we'd just had "Like Long Hair," which had become a pretty big hit, and he said, "It's over."

I said, "It's not over, Paul."

He said, "Yeah, it is. In two years the band will be gone, and who knows if they'll want to play?"

I said, "Paul, I'm going all the way. I can tell you I'm not going to stop."

He said, "What makes you think so?"

I said, "Life's like this"--and with this great Pollyanna naivete I said, "You know, Paul, when you get knocked down you get back up. And when you get knocked down, you get back up. And pretty soon life gets tired of knocking you down, and if you get up that last time you make it. I'm going all the way. I know I've got something; we make a good team. Tell you what: you go do your thing, I'll go to California and hang out with Gary Paxton and Kim Fowley, learn about the business and we'll get back together when you're out. I'll handle the music and you handle the business." And we shook hands on it.

I went to L.A., I starved, but I played one-finger organ or sax or background vocals or percussion--all these five-dollar sessions--and I learned a great deal. We went on tour as Paul Revere's Raiders, and Leon Russell was sitting in for Paul. I remember the first couple of gigs I was just petrified, because it wasn't like being in the northwest where everybody knew you. These kids in Scott City, Kansas, probably didn't know Paul Revere and the Raiders. And probably didn't care, because this was way before the show. I'm dying up there. At intermission, I said, "Man, this is a tough crowd." Leon says, "Look, when we get back out there, if you get in trouble, just kick it to me. I'll show you."

The Raiders, ‘Indian Reservation’ (1971)

So I sang a couple of songs and it was just dead. So I went (points), "Okay, Leon." So he jumps up and shouts, "Hey! What the fuck's goin' on? Didn't you come here to have a good time?"

The audience answers, "Yeah!"

"Aren't you people alive?"


"Don't you wanna party!?"


"Don't you wanna get down!?"


So he goes, "Yeeoww!", kicks over the stool, throws up the lid to the piano and goes into "Great Balls of Fire." I said, "I get it."

When we re-formed in Portland, I told Paul, "It's not just enough for us to be a good band. We have to do the unexpected, always." That's when I got a hundred foot cord made for my microphone, I'd crawl up in the rafters, I'd hang from my knees, go to the men's room. Paul started the rumor that I had a bad heart. On stage, when I work I get real red. And I said, "Paul, every gig we work there's more and more guys standing around the front of the stage."

He says, "Well, they're waitin' for you to die."

I said, "Whatta ya mean?"

He says, "I started the rumor that you had a bad heart and you could go anytime. They wanna be there when you hit your last note!"

I though, Yeay, okay, alright. I wanna live fast, live hard, die young and leave a beautiful memory, to quote Faron Young, I think.

I really believed that I'd just keep getting up. Luckily I had some God-given talent. Luckily I was in the right place at the right time.

Paul Revere & The Raiders as The Penguin’s campaign band in an episode of Batman.

So Leon Russell turns out to play a key role in the Raiders developing into one of the best live acts of its time. But it’s Terry Melcher who takes you under his wing in the studio, and the hits begin, and continue. How did that relationship get started?

The first time I met Terry Melcher we were going down to meet our new producer, who's Terry Melcher. Walking down the hall I could hear (makes sound of explosion). There's something alive behind this door. I walk in and here's this blond kid, hovering over the engineer who's covering one ear and then the other because the monitors are just roaring.

Bruce Johnston is standing out in the studio with a wastebasket over his head singing "Shut 'em down! Shut 'em down!" And every time he'd sing the word "down" it'd be at the resonant frequency of the wastebasket.

I'm going, God, this is great. This suit who had taken me down there introduced us and Terry said, "Hi, man! Is it good?"

I said, "It's great!" And that's how I met Terry.

First album we did it was kinda, everybody sang, everybody did a little thing, but Terry got the idea that I was the front man and the star, and then I brought him a couple of songs. He said, "Oh, you write?"

I said, "Yeah."

melcherHe said, "Listen, I'm about to rent this house. How would you like to come in and share this house and we can write and stuff?" That was the Manson place. Terry and I hit it off great. He had great ideas. He'd come up with a line, and I'd usually finish most of it, get lyrics, and then in the studio I'd rewrite the lyrics again--because when I heard the track I'd hear other new things. But Terry was a genius. The difference between Paul Revere and the Raiders' records of that era and, say, Gary Lewis and the Playboys' records, is there's this incredible bottom end that's just visceral. The engineer would say, "You can't put that much bottom end on it!" He'd say, "Yes, I can! Yes, I can!" He'd have a Pultec cranked up to max at 30, but he cut it off about 50, a dip so he'd have a bump on the bottom but not so much it would make the stylus leave the record entirely. He'd go in when we were mastering--well, mastering then, we were just putting it on acetate--and he'd make the guys patch out the clippers. CBS had standards: you couldn't have anything below a certain frequency or above a certain frequency. He'd say, "Patch out the clippers!" The engineer would say, "It won't play! It won't play!" And he would say, "Then make the grooves wider!"

Because we wrote together and harmonized together, Terry was like the sixth Raider. It's his voice that makes that blend. When I took over production, I guess "Too Much Talk" was the first record, Terry was in Spain. He and Candy Bergen were hot and heavy, and I always felt like the fifth wheel. I said, "Look, our lease is almost up. You guys stay here and I'll find a place." So he and Candy went to Spain and we needed another record. So they called him up and said, "Terry, you gotta come back and cut the guys." He said, "No, no, I'll be back when I want to." So I said, "Look, if you need a record, I've been working with Terry''--and the first thing I did was ask, "What's a dB? What's ‘attenuate’ mean?" If he told the engineer, "It sounds muddy," the engineer would say: "What do you mean 'it sounds muddy'?" And he'd say, "Can you give me about a three dB at 40 Hz and by two at a hundred?" And the engineer would say, "Yeah, I can give you that." He knew what that meant.

Sometimes Terry wouldn't show up for the sessions, so I'd go ahead and record stuff, and luckily the only part of our contract that was good was that we didn't pay for our studio time. Terry would come back and find out what I'd done, and usually erase it without listening to it, but I learned that way. So when Terry didn't come back from Spain, I said, "Give me a shot at it." Well, "Too Much Talk" was never played much in New York or Los Angeles, but it still made it to Number 11 on the Cashbox chart, so they said, "Okay, you've got the gig." I said, "No, I'd like to work with Terry." But when Terry came back he was so pissed that they'd done it without him, and that was the end of the relationship, kind of. Revolution [1967] was the last thing Terry and I did together, the music was really getting good. We had Ry Cooder playing a lot on it, and Van Dyke Parks. Had some great musicians and we were gettin' funky. I always kick myself in the butt and wonder where we could have gone if Terry and I would have stayed together. It never sounded the same after that. I missed his voice. I could get the bottom end and stuff, but I couldn't replace that voice. Plus, two heads are usually always better than one, and Terry always knew when to quit. Which is something I didn't always know. I'd keep adding stuff until I totally lost it.

So Terry, as far as I was concerned, was mostly responsible for the success of the Raiders and the Byrds. He was smart enough--the Byrds weren't--they had just hired Mike Clark and he really couldn't play drums that well at all. But Terry, who was a big fan of Brian Wilson, when he found out that Brian didn't use the Beach Boys to cut stuff, he'd use Hal Blaine and Larry Knechtel and Glen Campbell. The Raiders were actually on their recordings up until...I think "Good Thing" was the last one that everybody was on, and I think after that they'd play on most things. Smitty, he didn't know this, but they'd take his track off and Hal Blaine would come in and overdub. Smitty was a great drummer, but as things got more and more sophisticated, and our time got tighter and tighter because we were spending more time on the road, he'd just cut tracks and I'd come in and sing 'em. And usually Drake Levin would overdub his stuff. So the guys got phased out more and more in the studio, and I think, quite frankly, that's why they got disgusted and left and formed the Brotherhood. But Terry knew how to make records. I would give him as much credit as Dick Clark. If the records hadn't sounded good, even if you're on TV and you buy a crappy record, you're probably not going to buy another one. Terry's a genius, I think. He always had these wonderful instincts about when it was right and when it wasn't.

The Raiders, ‘Powder Blue Mercedes Queen,’ from the band’s Country Wine album (1971)

He was your studio mentor.

Oh, one day he walked in, everybody was recording on four track, and they were labeled "B Bastard Number One" and "B Bastard Number Two," and they were eight tracks. They'd made 'em up and were using them for classical recordings so they could separate the instruments. In classical everything plays at once, obviously, so if they don't get the balance right the first time, you're dead. So they would break out the first and second strings and things, then they could mix it down and make sure it was right. You get like 60 pieces, you're paying for a 60-piece orchestra, a 40-piece orchestra, you don't want to have to call them back. Les Paul had already put together an eight-track himself, and Ampex had just started making their own, but Terry found this thing and said, "What's this?"

"Oh, no--we use that for classical."

"Wheel it in!"

"No, it won't work on rock and roll!"

"Oh yes it will!"

And that's when we started doing all the stacking and double tracking, triple tracking. On most every Raiders record there's three basses--regular bass, a fuzz bass and maybe another bass part, sometimes even Hammond organ pedals. "Kicks"--if you listen to the chorus of "Kicks" it has a huge bottom end. That's a Hammond pedal. That was Terry's idea. He was right: what he knew instinctively, listen to kids now, and older people, drive up and down, you can hear the cars coming before you hear the engine. And they've actually done psycho-acoustic studies and found out that, well, for example, that 52 Hz is the resonant frequency of the female clitoris. I'm serious. And one of the frequencies right around there responds to the male, something we have that gals don't, not the appendage, but under that, and it makes you feel good. Maybe it felt good to Terry and that's why he put it on the records; whatever it was, he was an innovator. I never saw the studio as a tool before, the studio as an instrument, and he knew how to play it.

Bruce Johnston helped a lot too. He'd come by and put his two cents in, because he and Terry worked together a lot. Bruce actually cut the first half of the Raiders' album. Terry got disinterested and went over to Capital and worked with Bobby Darin for six months. Then he came back and we'd just started, something had made noise, maybe "Steppin' Out," or something, and he had cut a track with all studio guys, called "Sometimes" and said, "I think this would sound good on your voice. I'm cutting a track down here." I said, "You're what?" He said, "I'm cutting a track." I said, "With who?" He said, "Don't worry about it. When you coming back?" I said, "I'm driving down tomorrow." He said, "Well, fly back tonight."

The Raiders perform Joe South’s ‘Birds Of a Feather,’ from the Indian Reservation album (1971)

So we're in San Jose, I flew down, went in and did "Sometimes" and thought, Man, listen to this. It was just big and huge, and of course when the guys came in, they crapped. But it helped, because they suddenly saw, Wait a minute, we gotta get our chops together because we want to cut our records, so we better get good. It made everybody a better musician, and everybody worked harder. So it was probably the best thing that ever happened to the group.

Of course when we had our first hit-- "Steppin' Out" was kind of a hit, right? Then "Just Like Me"--I didn't really appreciate how good that record was until a couple of years ago. Actually, this year I suddenly started listening to the music and I'm hearing it like I never heard it before. I'm hearing things I never noticed before, but I understand why they're there. Second childhood, I guess. But whatever it is, it kicked in and I think that "Just Like Me," if they have a hundred of the best rock and roll songs of the century, it should be in there. More than "Kicks." More than "Hungry." More than "Good Thing." It's kind of the crossing point where we still have that teenage angst and that "God, we have three minutes to become famous!" Plus the sophistication of the studio was the perfect amalgamation, perfect mix.

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (
Website Design: Kieran McGee (
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY;, Alicia Zappier (New York)
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024