DEAR JERRY: I don't think I ever heard anything by Paul Revere and the Raiders until they became regulars on Dick Clark's “Where the Action Is” television show. Every time I saw them perform, they featured lead singer Mark Lindsay doing “Louie Louie,” “Steppin' Out,” and others. So it was surprising when I recently read that most of their early records were instrumentals.
Perhaps they were an instrumental band only because they didn't have a singer, until Mark joined?
How many instrumental records did they release before “Louie Louie”? What are the titles?
Sharon Portnoy, Jamaica, N.Y.
DEAR SHARON: The instantaneous answer is eight singles, though not all of those have instrumentals on both sides, as you shall see.
One of those vocals should be of special interest to you, as it's all about “Sharon.”
All vocals feature Mark Lindsay, who was with the band from their very first record. He also played saxophone.
In order of release, here is the list you seek:
1960: “Beatnik Sticks”/“Orbit (The Spy) (Gardena 106)
1961: “Unfinished Fifth”/“Paul Revere's Ride” (Gardena 115)
1961: “Like, Long Hair”/“Sharon” (Gardena 116)
1961: “Like, Charleston”/“Midnite Ride” (Gardena 118)
1962: “All Night Long”/“Groovey” (Gardena 123)
1962: “Like, Bluegrass”/“Leatherneck” (Gardena 127)
1962: “Tall Cool One”/“Roadrunner” (Gardena 137)
1963: “Blues Stay Away”/“So Fine” (Jerden 807)
Of these 16 pre-Louie tunes, four are vocals: “Paul Revere's Ride”; “Sharon”; “Midnite Ride”; and “So Fine,” leaving a dozen instrumentals.
When Paul Revere (his real name) first approached Gardena Records, appropriately located in Gardena, Calif., the owner, John Guss, suggested they change their name to take advantage of Paul's famous name.
According to Revere: “When he [Guss] found out my name was Paul Revere, he said: “What a perfect gimmick. You gotta use that name!”
“At first, we tried Paul Revere and the Night Riders, but that was rejected as sounding too much like a country group. We settled on Paul Revere and the Raiders, which appeared on our first Gardena single - a boogie-woogie version of “Chopsticks“ that Guss dubbed “Beatnik Sticks.”
Their debut single did quite well in several west coast markets, but not much nationally. In 1961, their third single, “Like Long Hair,” a piano-led rocker inspired by Rachmaninoff's “Prelude in C-Sharp Minor,” made the national Top 40.
Three of the Gardena tracks, “Beatnik Sticks”; ”Like Long Hair“; and “Midnite Ride,” plus all of their Top 100 Columbia hits, are found on
“The Legend of Paul Revere,” a 55-track, double CD package (Columbia C2K-45311).
In early November 1963, dissimilar versions of “Louie Louie” hit the market by Paul Revere and the Raiders and by the Kingsmen.
The Kingsmen's track became the No. 1 party song of all time, relegating the excellent waxing by the Raiders to a spot among 1960s music trivia questions.
DEAR JERRY: In the late 1960s, one of my family's soundtrack albums included a downright absurd track one I don't think even has any lines that rhyme.
Among other things, this girl is rambling on about meeting a boy from Brooklyn, falling in love, then losing his address. I think she also mentions him looking a lot like George Harrison.
Tamara Smith, York, Pa.
DEAR TAMARA: Absurd pretty well describes “Frank Mills,” one of the songs from the show ”Hair (The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical).” Frank Mills is both the title as well as the boy being sung about.
Many variations of “Hair” exist numerous cast performances plus a film soundtrack nearly all of which include “Frank Mills.”
From one cast to another, it is usually a different actress cast as Crissy and singing “Frank Mills.” Among the best known Crissys are: Shelley Plimpton (1967 Off Broadway Cast and 1968 Original Broadway Cast); Sonja Kristina (1969 Original London Cast); Kristen Vigard (1977 Broadway Revival Cast); Suzette Charles (1979 Original Soundtrack Album); and Allison Case (2009 Broadway Revival Cast).
Though cut from the final edit of the film, “Frank Mills” is included on the Original Soundtrack Album (RCA Victor CBL2-3274).
IZ ZAT SO? Shortly after the 1967-'68 off- and on-Broadway success of ”Hair,“ a Canadian singer named Frank Mills came up with several hits, including ”Love Me, Love Me Love”; “Poor Little Fool”; “Peter Piper;” and the Top 3 instrumental smash, “Music Box Dancer.”