It was in 1958 that Paul Revere (born Paul Revere Dick), 20, met Mark Lindsay, 16, a compatriot from Idaho. Revere ran a drive-in restaurant west of Boise. One day, he started chatting with Lindsay while delivering her hamburger buns.
They discovered that they were both passionate about rock ‘n’ roll and both aspired to be professional musicians. A year later, keyboardist Revere formed the Downbeats. Lindsay was at the forefront with her powerful, emotional voice and teenage idol beauty. Soon the group changed their name and prepared for fame.
In 1963, Paul Revere & the Raiders became the first rock group signed by Columbia Records. The signing was a radical departure from his mainstream releases of the day by Tony Bennett, Andy Williams and Doris Day.
Dressed in Independence War costumes and fueled by the manic energy of Revere – he was often referred to as “the rock ‘n’ roll madman” – the quintet became the house band on Dick’s “Where the Action Is” Clark, mid-1960s. American Bandstand spin-off.
Revere once proclaimed, âWe were visual, fun and crazy, and we were America’s response to the invasion of British music. “
With producer Terry Melcher (son of Doris Day) at the recording studio console, Paul Revere & the Raiders recorded 13 Columbia Top 40 singles between 1965 and 1969. By the end of the decade, however, the success that had happened so easily before seemed to be evaporating. Lindsay recorded solo and released a Columbia Top 10 hit titled “Arizona”. For all intents and purposes, however, Paul Revere & the Raiders seemed to be destined to scrap rock stars.
But, in 1971, “Indian Reservation” (a minor 1968 hit here by British artist Don Fardon) provided Revere’s band – now simply called Raiders – with a smashing comeback. It would become their only record to reach number 1 and would ultimately become the best-selling single at this point in Columbia’s 82-year history.
“Indian Reservation” advanced in a low-pitched minor key, with a hypnotic combination of drums and bass feeding the melody at a relaxed tempo while Revere’s electric keyboard provided the melodic line.
The lead singer explained that “Indian Reservation” was going “to be a (solo) single by Mark Lindsay.â¦ It was my choice to release it as Raiders.
The full title of the song was “Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Indian of the Cherokee Reservation)”. Songwriter John D. Loudermilk composed it in 1959 under the title “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 reservation
Take away our ways of life
The tomahawk and the bow and the knife
Footnote: The Cherokees never went into a reservation. Once residents of an area that spanned five southeastern states, they were taken to Indian Territory (largely to the later state of Oklahoma) in the forced relocation that became infamous under the name of Trail of Tears.