Paul Revere, a teenage businessman who found an outlet for his entrepreneurial spirit in the form of a campy rock-and-roll band that capitalized on his name, wore Revolutionary War-era costumes and cranked out a string of grungy hits in the mid-1960s, died Oct. 4 at his home in Garden Valley, Idaho. He was 76.
The cause was cancer, Roger Hart, manager for Paul Revere and the Raiders, told the Associated Press.
After a near-constant touring schedule in recent years, Mr. Revere retreated six months ago to his adopted home state because of health issues, said his tour manager, Ron Lemen.
Along with singer and saxophonist Mark Lindsay, Mr. Revere, a keyboard player, formed a band called the Downbeats in Boise in 1959. Within a few years, they would become Paul Revere and the Raiders, string together top-10 pop hits including “Kicks,” “Hungry” and “Good Thing” and become fixtures of Dick Clark’s weekday afternoon TV show “Where the Action Is.”
“Just Like Me,” a 1965 hit, made the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of “Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.”
Born Paul Revere Dick on Jan. 7, 1938, in Harvard, Neb., he grew up on a farm near Boise, where he learned to play piano. While a teenager, he opened a barbershop. At 18, with three barbershops to his name, he sold them to buy a drive-in restaurant and put together the band to attract young customers.
After some local success, the Downbeats moved to Portland, Ore., in 1960 and with encouragement from their new manager, radio disc jockey Hart, renamed themselves Paul Revere and the Raiders. They recorded a 1963 version of “Louie Louie” that was eclipsed by another Portland garage band, the Kingsmen, but the Raiders were on their way to Hollywood.
Joined by early core members Drake Levin on guitar, Mike Smith on drums and Phil Volk on bass, the group performed choreographed shows in elaborate outfits, complete with tri-cornered hats, brightly colored frock coats, white hose and knee-high black leather boots. In 1964, they signed a contract with Columbia Records as the label’s first rock act and caught Clark’s eye.
“From day one, we’ve always been a party band that accidentally had some hit records and accidentally got on a hit television series,” Mr. Revere said in a 2000 interview with the Associated Press.
“We were visual and fun and crazy and were America’s answer to the British music invasion. . . . We just happened to be at the right time and had the right name and had the right gimmick.”
Producer Terry Melcher honed the band’s hard-edged, guitar-driven sound with Lindsay, the frontman, providing the vocals. The blond Revere was content to remain in the background playing organ.
Besides performing as the house band on “Where the Action Is” beginning in 1965, Paul Revere and the Raiders appeared on Clark’s later “Happening” shows as well as “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “The Tonight Show” and as themselves on the “Batman” TV show in 1966.
The band had 20 consecutive hits and reached its peak with John D. Loudermilk’s “Indian Reservation” at No. 1 in 1971, but a revolving door of band members and changing musical tastes led to its decline.
Mr. Revere maintained a busy pace of touring and appearing at state fairs, casinos and clubs.
“After you’ve had some success, you’re afraid it’s gonna go away and you need to take advantage of it, so you work as hard as you can, because it might disappear tomorrow,” he told the Associated Press in 2000.
Revere’s survivors include his wife of 35 years, Sydney. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.