Paul Revere, organist and ringleader of the long-running rock band the Raiders, passed away October 4th at his home in Idaho, the band’s official website revealed. Revere was 76. No cause of death was revealed, but TMZ reports that Revere (born Paul Revere Dick) battled with cancer over the past year. Thanks to his colorful clothing and infectious stage persona, Revere earned a reputation as “the madman of rock & roll.” He and his Raiders scored a handful of hits throughout their five decades together, including their anti-drug smash “Kicks.”
In a long letter written to Revere on the band’s official website, the organist is remembered from a fan’s perspective. “Like most people, my initial introduction to you was on television, radio and records, but none of those mediums gave me a real clue to the one-of-a-kind life force that was Paul Revere,” the letter reads. “Sitting in an audience at my first Paul Revere and The Raiders concert introduced me to a larger-than-life dynamo of high-energy slapstick, outrageous and spontaneous humor and a genuine child-like joy. Everyone in attendance just knew that you MUST be a wonderful person offstage too, no doubt about it.”
Known for their Revolutionary War-style attire – like something the real Paul Revere or the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band would wear – and their memorable organ riffs, Paul Revere and the Raiders got their start in 1963 with a cover of Richard Berry’s “Louie, Louie,” which they recorded the same year as the Kingsmen, who had much more success with the single. However, Revere and his Raiders scored four Top Ten singles in the Sixties with “Kicks,” “Hungry,” “Good Thing” and “Him or Me, What’s It Gonna Be.” Their biggest triumph came in 1971 with “Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian).” A cover of a John D. Loudermilk-penned track, the Raiders’ rendition became an unlikely smash, hitting Number One on the Billboard chart in July 1971 and selling over a million copies.
Revere and Raiders lead singer Mark Lindsay co-wrote a quasi-sequel to “Louie, Louie” called “Louie Go Home,” which was subsequently covered by a young David Bowie and the Who. The Raiders had endured countless lineup changes throughout the years, including Lindsay’s departure in 1975, but Revere was the one constant since they first formed as the Downbeats in Boise, Idaho in 1958. Two years later, they became Paul Revere and the Raiders, a name that stuck for over half a century.
In July 2014, Revere penned a Facebook post revealing that he was dealing with some ailments. “Even though I’ve had some health issues, nothing can stop the old man. I’m like the Energizer Bunny! I jump on my tour bus and go from city to city, packing a trunk full of great Raider songs, tight pants and bad jokes – all against doctor’s orders, by the way,” Revere wrote. “I’ve been the worst patient these guys have ever seen, and they’ve been on me to take a break all year.” Despite doctors’ request that he take a break, Revere and his Raiders still booked shows well into 2015.
“But now you have passed on. By your example, both professional and personal, you’ve left a blueprint of how to live a life full of love, laughter and happiness,” the letter to Revere on the band’s site concludes. “The world will be a lot less fun, a lot less kind and gentle without Paul Revere in it. Your larger-than-life absence will leave a void in our hearts and our lives.”