News Column

Mark Lindsay among acts from the '60s, '70s

July 5, 2013

YellowBrix

July 05--Smiles galore are predicted as hitmakers of the '60s and '70s take the stage at Kenley Centennial Amphitheater on Monday, July 8, for "The Happy Together Tour."

Talent includes The Turtles' Flo & Eddie, Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night, Gary Lewis of Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Gary Puckett of the Union Gap, and Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders.

Cute was pretty much the norm among the lead singers of the 1960s. The Raiders' Mark Lindsay was, and still is, movie-star handsome, with charisma to spare. It's in part due to his telegenic charm that the bandmembers became TV stars as well as music celebrities.

Lindsay even stood out from his mop-top contemporaries with his minuteman ponytail to match the band's quasi-Revolutionary costumes.

And Lindsay could sing, too. His expressive, rocking baritone still stands up well on Raiders' classics like "Kicks" and "Hungry," and also on Lindsay's solo records, like "Arizona" and "Indian Reservation."

"The band started out in Idaho," said Lindsay, 71, who was calling from a "Happy Together" tour stop in Austin, Texas.

"Now I know Idaho is not known as a big center of soul music. But I used to listen to AM radio." Lindsay laughed, putting on a faux professorial tone. "For those of you from the Internet era, AM radio waves did not usually travel very far out of your town, but sometimes, they could bounce off the ionosphere. And as a result, you could have a station in Chicago that bounced several times and ended up in my ears in Idaho."

Lindsay remembers listening to songs from stations in New Orleans and California, as well as blues from the Windy City and Memphis soul. By age 15, Lindsay, the second of eight children, had left home and school to become a singer.

He didn't have to wander from band to band for very long before hooking up with the lineup that would become the Raiders.

"We played Ventures, James Brown, Etta James, Little Richard, of course, and Chuck Berry. We were basically just this screaming R&B band."

Gussied up

Much like the Beatles before them, once the Raiders were signed to CBS in 1965, they got a bit of polishing from the label's handlers. They were swiftly picked to be the house band for Dick Clark's daily afternoon TV show, "Where the Action Is." Revere and Lindsay also hosted two more TV shows, "Happening '68" and "It's Happening."

"They turned us into being a bit more pop," said Lindsay. "That was what was happening musically at that time, so they trimmed off the rough edges and we became a little more commercial. But it was a wonderful time. During those years, we were on TV five days a week. We did something like 1,000 television appearances, making me, as I understand it, the most televised lead singer in history."

Matching costumes were also very much the thing at that time, and it was not just because of Revere's name, but also the onslaught of all those British bands hitting America like a Mack truck in 1965, that steered their look toward Colonial.

Lindsay knew that a ponytail was the final accessory he needed to look Revolutionary.

"I decided because of our name, my hair should look the way men wore it back in the day," said Lindsay. "The truth is, everyone else in the band tried to grow their hair out, too, but you have to go through a very unattractive period where the hair is too short to put in a tail -- let's be honest, a very ugly period. I toughed it out and I am the only one who came out the other side with a good tail!"

On the road

Though the individual Raiders eventually went their own ways more or less permanently in the mid-'70s, Lindsay never quit singing and traveling. Now he has hit the road permanently with his wife, even when not touring, and writes a blog about his gypsy ways called "Postcards From a Wandering Minstrel."

"When I finished ninth grade, I determined that is what I would do, so I left home and joined the band. I've been doing it ever since. We are doing 50 'Happy Together' shows all over the U.S. this summer, on the bus, traveling around from town to town. But now, my wife and I just keep going, even when I am not touring. We RV. We have solar panels and are totally self-sufficient, except getting a little water on board once in a while."

The Lindsays started being full-time road warriors two years ago, when they could not decide where they wanted to settle next. They had lived in Nashville and Memphis, Tenn.; Maui; Oregon; Idaho; California and Florida in their 20 years of marriage. They realized that in all of those houses, they had really only used a bedroom, the kitchen and a bathroom. The rest of those houses were just stuffed with their stuff, and most of it, if not all, they never used. Lindsay admitted to having 17 organs at one time, and tons of other music gear. His wife collected books galore.

It all went.

"It has been a good life," said Lindsay of RV-ing. "I walk 6 or 7 miles a day and have been writing (songs) like crazy. I've written more in these last two years than in the last 20."

Lindsay said the new CD, called "Life Out Loud," sounds "like 1965. Kind of like what we were doing about the time of 'Hungry.' It is very much the approach I had at 19, in fact -- first take vocals, very live, warts and all, and it sounds good." He said he will have it for sale in Layton.

And as for the "Happy Together" tour, Lindsay is plenty happy to be aboard.

"People forget -- even myself, when I got on the tour and heard everyone's show -- you forget how many truly iconic songs are represented here. I could not pick a favorite moment; I like all the songs. They all have their moment, you know?

"I am having fun from the time I get onstage to the time I get off, and I always like to try to put myself out there with the audience, and they are having fun, too. It is spontaneous and fun, and it is rock 'n' roll. I can't complain.

"I never dreamed I would be having such a great time at this point, but I am. I am probably having the most fun I ever have."

WHO'S HAPPY TOGETHER?

Summer Nights With the Stars is getting groovy with "The Happy Together Tour," a night of '60s music featuring five journeymen musicians. They'll bring along the hits for which they're known.

--The Turtles featuring Flo and Eddie -- The band scored its biggest and best-known hit in 1967 with "Happy Together." Combining folk-rock with pop in a lasting fashion, frontmen Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman are recognized for their amazing harmonies.

--Chuck Negron -- Chuck Negron and Three Dog Night had 18 consecutive Top 20 singles, including No. 1 tunes "Mama Told Me Not to Come," "Joy to the World" and "Black and White." Negron rebooted his solo career in 1994 and has been performing ever since.

--Gary Puckett -- Puckett, frontman for the Union Gap, had a remarkable, hit-making baritone that crossed genres. The group scored six consecutive gold records and Top 10 hits such as "Young Girl," "Woman, Woman," Lady Willpower," "Over You" and "This Girl Is a Woman Now."

--Gary Lewis -- This lead singer and songwriter for the Playboys took the band's first single, "This Diamond Ring," to No. 1 in 1964. Other Top 10 records include "Everybody Loves a Clown," "She's Just My Style" and "Sure Gonna Miss Her." In 1965, Gary was named Cash Box Magazine's "Male Vocalist of the Year." The other nominees were Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.

--Mark Lindsay -- Lindsay is best known as the Idaho-born lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders.

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(c)2013 the Standard-Examiner (Ogden, Utah)

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