Paul Revere Kicks Off The Action

“KICKS Off” – get it? Paul Revere talks about Dick Clark, early television, his next tour and why Jack Black needs to see his show.

Revere might not be an unsung hero of rock ‘n’ roll, but he sure doesn’t get enough credit, either. The band inspired countless high schoolers to buy instruments, find a garage and start playing music. And many times the first songs they try, to this day, are “Kicks” and “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone,” two of rock’s great staples.

And Revere – born Paul Revere Dick – was at the launch of rock’s television era. The late 50s and early 60s included television shows, hosted by the likes of Steve Allen and Mike Douglas, that were the first to bring black music to white audiences, even if it meant James Brown was dancing to a New York audience at 9 in the morning.

And one of the shows was “Where The Action Is,” featuring a young host named Dick Clark. Paul Revere & The Raiders was a recurring guest of the show, and it began a lifelong friendship between Clark and the leader of the band.  In December, Revere is launching a tribute to his late friend and bringing along performers from the television series.

He also has a challenge to Jack Black. We spoke with Revere a few days before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Photo: David Conger
Of Paul Revere & The Raiders, at the Snoqualmie Ballroom & Casino, Snoqualmie, Wash.

So, you’re sitting up at a cabin?

I’m sitting up at a cabin on a river in north Idaho and having a few days of R-and-R before I head back to my home in Branson.

Anyway, just wanted to touch bases with you and tell you how excited we are to be out on the road and rockin’. We never stopped and don’t plan on it.

The tour is dedicated to the show “Where The Action Is.” Can you elaborate?

I think one of the things is when Dick Clark passed away, it was like losing one of my best friends and my mentor. He was always like my big brother and we were involved in business and whatnot over the last 30-40 years. I felt like this tour would be a great tribute to what Dick Clark gave me, which was a chance to be on the television show “Where The Action Is.”  I owe all of everything I ever accomplished, I think, from that experience. When he put us on TV, it introduced the band, what we do and our wild and crazy show to the nation, and I’ve never stopped rockin’ since.

But he opened the door for me and wherever we go, all these years since 1965, people’s memory goes back to “Where The Action Is.” They use to run home from school to see the show – Dick Clark, And Paul Revere & The Raiders running up and down the beaches of California. It was a special time. When people come to see a Paul Revere & The Raiders show, [those are] the memories.

So, I thought, hey, let’s recreate that wonderful time and take a “Where The Action Is” show out on tour. The people that I picked all appeared on the show: Mary Wilson of The Supremes, Mitch Ryder of The Detroit Wheels, and The Association. [This] is the package that we chose to go with on the coming year. I’m hoping it can grow and we can rotate other acts that also appeared on the show. Or, if someone doesn’t want the complete package, we can do a watered-down version.

But basically it’s to bring back the “Where The Action Is” time period and where everybody’s brain was in the mid-‘60s. It was a fun, crazy show.

For those of us under 50, can you give us a description of the show?

“Where The Action Is” was a show Dick Clark conjured up and we did the pilot with some other acts, The Supremes, Jan & Dean and Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. We were brought on to be regulars because we were high energy, fun and very visual. Dick Clark thought we were perfect for television because we had the costumes and we were kind of like Marx Brothers, if they had a rock band. We were just madmen on the loose. We went well with television, and it came over on personal appearances. 

The show was on ABC. The pilot was actually shot for CBS, but CBS couldn’t figure out where to put it. So ABC put it in the afternoon right after school. It was on five days a week and, depending on where it ran in the country, it usually ran about 4 p.m. in the afternoon. It ran from 1965 through part of 1967 and it really only got pulled because it the network news would come on the television not too long after the show. And with the Vietnam war in its full force at the time, ABC just decided it was in bad taste to have this wild, crazy, fun-loving show prior to the network news.

So, it was pulled not because of ratings but because ABC thought it was distasteful at that point, and didn’t know where to put it. It ran over 500 episodes and we were regulars. We had a string of hits that was nonstop and the television show gave us a perfect opportunity to perform our new records. The albums were turning gold as fast as we could record them.

I’m sorry to hear you missed out on all that! There were other shows we appeared on. There was Hullabaloo, and Shindig.  They featured those who had hit records at the time and it helped with personal appearances and record sales.

It’s just a way to pay tribute to Dick Clark. I can’t believe that he’s gone. My wife and I had dinner with Dick and Kari, and we were laughing and reminiscing about the “Where The Action Is” days. It was a total surprise when he passed away; I guess it was just a routine thing that they went to the hospital for so nobody was expecting it to end the way that it did.

Photo: Gino Rossi

Can you go into how the other acts were contacted?

That was done by our agent, Michael Pick. It was pretty simple. Mike said, “Give me a list of the acts that you think would fit into this package.” I gave him a list and we narrowed it down to who would be available, and which would work. So when it kind of sorted its way out, this is the lineup we decided to go with.

I love that The Supremes and Mary Wilson was there for the initial pilot, so I thought it was perfect to have her on the package.

And Mitch Ryder is such an exciting act. His music just blazes. I just love the Detroit Wheels. [It] was the epitome of what rock ’n’ roll should sound like. I was always jealous in the 60s.  In fact, we would always stick one or two Mitch Ryder songs into our shows. They were just fun to do. And The Association, I just thought they were just a classy act that had such big, big hits that they’d be a good breather. The show can’t be all bam, bam, bam. You need a breather. So I thought their classy hits would fit in.

I guess we’ve already got some shows sold just on the basis of the lineup. So we hope to have a lot of shows for the coming year. I can’t wait to get on the stage and do a real, proper tribute to my friend Dick Clark.

Photo: David Conger
Displays his trusty hair dryer during a Paul Revere & The Raiders appearance at the Snoqualmie Ballroom & Casino in Washington.

What can fans expect when they see Paul Revere & The Raiders?

As far as my group, some of them have been with me for 40 years. Some of these guys have been with me 30. The one thing, and people notice it, is I always make sure the band never stops working. And the one reason we do so well is that I make sure we perform our biggest hits and we do them exactly like the record. I mean the same key, the same tempo, the same arrangements. The vocals are dead on. People always comment after the show, “Oh my God, I’ve never heard an old band do their hits and sound exactly like the records.”  That’s the most important thing: to not disappoint the audience. You do the hits like they want to hear them.

The audience is going to hear the best of the best because when you have four acts, you’ve got to do your biggest hits, and that’s what everybody in the lineup will be doing. There won’t be any throwaways. Whatever the venue’s time allows – an hour show or a two-and-a-half-hour show – we can guarantee this lineup has enough hits to fill up the time, and it will pass fast.

Photo: David Conger
Lead singer Darren Dowler and bassist Ron Foos, Snoqualmie Ballroom & Casino, Snoqualmie, Wash.

Any closing thoughts?

I’d like to give a challenge to Jack Black. I saw him on “Sunday Morning” on CBS and he said, “Man, I’ve seen bands rock in their 30s, I’ve seen bands rock in their 40s, 50s and even 60s, but I’ve never seen a band rock in their 70s.”

And I’m going, “Whoa. Dude! You haven’t met Paul Revere & The Raiders! I’m going to be 75 in January and I’m on fire, baby!”  I want to do a rock-off with Jack Black!  We’ve gotta take him on, man.  He obviously hasn’t seen us because then he’ll know people can really rock in their 70s. 

A really close friend of mine is Dick Richards, the drummer for The Comets, and he’s going to be 90 this year and he still does a drum solo that would set your hair on fire. What Comets are left still tour over in Europe, and he’s an animal.

So, Jack Black: There are still old people out there who are rockin’ big time!

Upcoming gigs for Paul Revere & The Raiders include Corte Madera, Calif., at Village at Corte Madera Nov. 30 and Bluffton, S.C., at Magnolia Hall Dec. 9. The band will celebrate the holidays on an elegant steamboat with the “Where The Action Is Cruise,” lauching in New Orleans and scheduled Dec. 9-14. The Caribbean “Where The Action Is Cruise” sets sail from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Jan. 20 for Bahamas, U.S. Virgin Islands and other fabulous destinations.