Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Mexican Spitfire Films

During the Golden Age of Hollywood it was not unusual for an actor to become identified with a role that he or she played in a series of films. While William Powell and Myrna Loy each did many other films, to this day many still think of Mr. Powell and Miss Loy as Nick and Nora Charles in the "Thin Man" films. While Penny Singleton appeared in a number of movies over her career, for many she remains Blondie Bumstead. Basil Rathbone played the villain in many a swashbuckler movie, yet Sherlock Holmes is still his best known role. Like many other actors Lupe Vélez also became forever identified with a role she played in a series of films. Namely, for many Lupe Vélez will always be Carmelita Lindsay (née Fuentes), better known as the Mexican Spitfire.

The "Mexican Spitfire" series of movies proved to be some of RKO's most popular films in the late Thirties and early Forties. The films centred around  Lupe Vélez as Carmelita Lindsay, a Mexican singer who married New York City advertising man Dennis Lindsay (played in succession by Donald Woods, Charles "Buddy" Rogers, and Walter Reed). Carmelita's staunchest supporter and partner in her various schemes was Dennis's Uncle Matt. Uncle Matt was played by veteran comedian Leon Errol, who also played the role of  Lord Basil Epping, a doddering English peer and alcohol tycoon. Given Uncle Matt and Lord Epping looked a good deal alike, it should come as no surprise that Uncle Matt often impersonated the British noble.

While Carmelita Lindsay would become Lupe Vélez's most famous role, it did not exactly mark a big change in her career. Many actors would find their careers redefined after playing a character in a popular series of films. Myrna Loy began her career playing various femmes fatales, vamps, and exotics before being cast as the witty, sophisticated Nora Charles in The Thin Man. After The Thin Man and its sequels, Myrna Loy generally played sophisticated women. In contrast, Lupe Vélez had been playing roles similar to Carmelita for years before the "Mexican Spitfire" series began.

Lupe Vélez had arrived in Hollywood during the Silent Era. She appeared in various Hal Roach comedy shorts before receiving her big break in Douglas Fairbanks' The Gaucho (1927). Miss Vélez followed The Gaucho with other successful films, including The Wolf Song (1929) and  East is West (1930). Having played dramas for several years, Lupe Vélez found her niche in comedy with the films The Half-Naked Truth (1933) and Hot Pepper (1933). In both films she played what could be considered prototypes for Carmelita in the "Mexican Spitfire" films: hot tempered Latinas who were blatantly sexy. It would be the sort of role for which Lupe Vélez would become known for the rest of her career. Indeed, both Hollywood and to some degree Miss Vélez herself cultivated that same image of the actress in real life. Lupe Vélez was known for being overly emotional, very open about sex, saying exactly what was on her mind,  and, of course, her temper. Miss Vélez often received more press for what she did in real life than she did her films. After RKO did not renew her contract in 1934 Miss Vélez spent a good deal of time on Broadway, appearing in such productions as Hot-Cha! (Florenz Ziegfeld's last musical), Strike Me Pink, and the Cole Porter musical You Never Know. She even returned to her native Mexico to make the film La Zandunga (1937).

It was in 1939 that Lupe Vélez made a B comedy titled The Girl from Mexico for RKO. It would be the film that would inaugurate the "Mexican Spitfire" series. In The Girl from Mexico advertising man Dennis Lindsay (Donald Woods) brings Mexican singer Carmelita Fuentes to the United States to work in national radio. Complications arise when Carmelita falls in love with Dennis. The Girl from Mexico introduced many of the characters of the "Mexican Spitfire" series, including Dennis's Uncle Matt and his disapproving Aunt Della (played by Elisabeth Risdon). The Girl from Mexico proved so successful that the head of RKO,  George Schaefer, not only gave the go ahead for a sequel almost immediately, but he also signed Lupe Vélez to a contract with the studio with a salary of a $1,500 a week.

Mexican Spitfire was released only six months after The Girl from Mexico and marked the official start of the "Mexican Spitfire" series. In Mexican Spitfire Carmelita and Dennis have just married and face two very big obstacles. One is Dennis's Aunt Della, who strongly disapproves of the marriage. Another is Dennis's scheming ex-fiancée Elizabeth (played by Linda Hayes), who wants him back. Mexican Spitfire would mark a significant shift from The Girl from Mexico. Namely, Leon Errol received a larger role in the film, one he would maintain for the rest of the series. Indeed, Mexican Spitfire introduced the role of wealthy distiller Lord Basil Epping, whom Mr. Errol would play as well as Uncle Matt. The character of Uncle Matt also played a bigger role in Mexican Spitfire than he had in Girl from Mexico, playing Carmelita's co-conspirator in the film as he would the rest of the series. Donald Woods, who as the rather bland Dennis Lindsay, had been second billed in The Girl from Mexico was then reduced to third billing in Mexican Spitfire.

Marion Martin, Leon Errol,
and Lupe Vélez"
Mexican Spitfire set the tone for the rest of the series. To a large degree the film was a farce, and so too would be the "Mexican Spitfire" films that followed it. Much of the humour in the films emerged from misunderstandings, mistaken identities, double entendres, and so on. At the same time the "Mexican Spitfire" movies seem very reminiscent of the situation comedies of both radio and television. Indeed, the "Mexican Spitfire" films have been compared to the classic sitcom I Love Lucy on more than one occasion.  Carmelita and Uncle Matt were hatching schemes well before Lucy and Ethel ever appeared on the small screen. It was guaranteed that at some point in every film Uncle Matt would impersonate Lord Epping. Less often noted is that to a degree the "Mexican Spitfire" films resemble another classic sitcom, namely Bewitched. Just as Samantha often tries to help Darrin in winning accounts, so too does Carmelita try to help Dennis.

For the most part the "Mexican Spitfire" films featured the sorts of plots one would expect from a series of B comedies. In Mexican Spitfire Out West, because she thinks Dennis has been taking her for granted Carmelita goes to Reno to get a quickie divorce In The Mexican Spitfire's Baby Carmelita and Dennis adopt a war orphan who turns out to be a beautiful French woman (played by Marion Martin). Mexican Spitfire Sees a Ghost was set in a haunted house (practically every series of film comedies had to have at least one entry set in a haunted house). Mexican Spitfire's Elephant found Carmelita mixed up with jewel thieves. Mexican Spitfire at Sea found Carmelita and Dennis going on a cruise for their much delayed honeymoon. The final film in the series, Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event, saw Dennis believing Carmelita was pregnant when in reality she was referring to their pet ocelot.

Like many series of B comedies from the era, the "Mexican Spitfire" films were not particularly inventive. Gags and routines were reused from film to film.  As mentioned above, Uncle Matt impersonates Lord Epipng in every single movie. Carmelita tries more than once to help Dennis win an important account. There are misunderstandings between Carmelita and Dennis often enough that one sometimes wonders how they stayed married.

While the sorts of plots featured in the "Mexican Spitfire" films varied little from film to film, the series would undergo a few changes throughout its run. Dennis Woods left the series and was replaced by Charles "Buddy" Rogers as Dennis Lindsay in The Mexican Spitfire's Baby. In turn Walter Reed took over the role with Mexican Spitfire's Elephant. Linda Hayes was last seen as Dennis's conniving ex-fiancée in Mexican Spitfire Out West (apparently she gave up on getting him back after that film).

Today anyone reading about the "Mexican Spitfire" films might assume that Carmelita Lindsay was an outright stereotype--the hot tempered, hot blooded, highly sexualised Latina. Indeed, the very title of the series, "Mexican Spitfire", would seem to indicate this.  It is certainly true that certain aspects of Carmelita's personality are stereotypical. Carmelita certainly had a temper. Like Ricky Ricardo after her, Carmelita is prone to rapidly shout a stream of Spanish when angered. Carmelita also had a tendency to mangle the English language. Even after living in the United States for a few years, Carmelita still spoke with an exaggerated Mexican accent.

While there were some elements of Carmelita's character that were stereotypical, however, there were many that were not. In fact, in some respects the "Mexican Spitfire" series could even be seen as progressive for the era. Indeed, the "Mexican Spitfire" movies are among the first to portray a mixed marriage, this at a time when some states still had laws forbidding Mexicans to marry individuals of other ethnicities. In fact, it is Aunt Della, who is constantly trying to break Carmelita and Dennis up, who is the villain of the series.  In having Carmelita and Dennis marry, then, RKO was in many ways making a very bold move.

While Carmelita and Dennis's marriage was portrayed positively, so too was Carmelita's friendship with Dennis's Uncle Matt. Uncle Matt always treated Carmelita with respect and as an equal, to the point that he always went along with her schemes. And while Uncle Matt does correct Carmelita when she errs with regards to the English language, he does so politely and without ridicule. Like Carmelita, Uncle Matt was one of the protagonists of the series, and to have him treat her with respect definitely sent a message to audiences about both women and ethnicity.

It must also be pointed out that throughout the series Carmelita never gave up her singing career, despite the fact that women of the time were generally expected to set aside their careers when they married. What is more, Carmelita was not particularly anxious to have children, this at a time when most married women were expected to embrace motherhood. As odd as it might sound, one can read a feminist subtext into the "Mexican Spitfire" films. Quite simply the series says that it is all right for women to continue to have a career after marriage and not to consider motherhood their foremost goal in life.

Indeed, not only is Carmelita independent, but she is also intelligent. It is always Carmelita who resolves the various misunderstandings that have arisen in the course of the films. And more often not, after some difficulties, it is Carmelita who insures that Dennis wins an important account. Throughout the series Carmelita prevails, this in the face of many obstacles, not the least of which is Aunt Della's none too thinly veiled racism. In many ways Carmelita entirely subverts the hot tempered, hot blooded Latina stereotype, using aspects of it to create a character who was very progressive for her day.

Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event, released in 1943, would be the last film in the series. Lupe Vélez would make only one more movie, Nana (1944) in her native Mexico. Sadly, Miss Vélez committed suicide on 13 December 1944. While the reasons Miss Vélez took her own life are not certain, it must be pointed out that she did not die with her face down in a toilet as Kenneth Anger claimed in his libellous account in Hollywood Babylon. While accounts at the time of her death said that her secretary found Miss Vélez on her bed, police photos show she was found on the floor beside her bed. Regardless, the public still loved Lupe Vélez. At her funeral held in California more than 4,000 people walked past her casket. In her funeral held in Mexico later thousands also showed up to express their grief at her passing. In both the United States and Mexico Lupe Vélez was a beloved star.

The "Mexican Spitfire" films were very successful upon their first release. Today it seems likely that they are only known to fans of classic film. The films certainly do have their flaws. Often one "Mexican Spitfire" movie differs very little from another. Gags are often repeated and the same sort of misunderstandings arise in each film. That having been said, there is much to recommend the "Mexican Spifire" movies. While they are hardly Noel Coward, they are pleasant films that can be very funny in much the same way that the concurrent "Blondie" movies are. Indeed, Lupe Vélez and Leon Errol made a great comedy team, the two playing off each other very well. While the "Mexican Spitfire" films are largely forgotten today, there is good reason that they should not be.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Geoffrey Holder Passes On

Actor, dancer, choreographer, painter, costume designer, and composer  Geoffrey Holder died on 5 October 2014 at the age of 84. The cause were complications from pneumonia

Geoffrey Holder was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on 1 August 1930. His parents Louise de Frense and Arthur Holder had migrated from Barbados. His older brother, Arthur Aldwyn Holder (known to everyone as "Boscoe"), taught him both painting and dancing. Boscoe Holder also brought his younger brother Geoffrey into a dance troupe he had formed, the Holder Dancing Company, when Geoffrey was only 7 years old. Boscoe Hunter went on to become a  a Tony Award-winning stage director and costume designer. Geoffrey Holder attended Tranquillity School and Queen’s Royal College in Port of Spain.

Boscoe Holder left Trinidad in the late Forties, leaving Geoffrey Holder in charge of their dance troupe. In 1954 he was invited by choreographer Agnes de Mille, who had seen the troupe perform in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, to take the troupe to New York City. Mr. Holder made his debut on Broadway in 1954 in the production House of Flowers. Geoffrey Holder taught classes at the Katherine Dunham School of Dance and Theatre for a time. From 1956 to 1958 he was the principal dancer for the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. He continued to run the Holder Dancing Company until it disbanded in 1960.

In 1957 Geoffrey Holder made his film debut in a small role in Carib Gold (1957). He also appeared in an uncredited role in Porgy and Bess (1959). He appeared as a calypso singer in an episode of The United States Steel Hour in 1957. In 1957 he also appeared in an all black production of Waiting for Godot on Broadway. He won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1956 for his painting.

In the Sixties Mr. Holder appeared in the films as All Night Long (1962), Doctor Dolittle (1967), and Krakatoa: East of Java (1969). He appeared on television in a 1967 adaptation of Androcles and the Lion, as well as episodes of Tarzan and It Takes a Thief. He appeared on Broadway in the production of  Josephine Baker.

In the Seventies he appeared in several films, including one of his most famous roles, that of Baron Samedi in the James Bond film Live and Let Die (1973). He also appeared in the films Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask (1972), The Noah (1975), and Swashbuckler (1976).  On television he provided the voice of Jupiter in The ABC Weekend Special "The Gold Bug" in 1980. He also became spokesman for the soft drink 7 Up in its commercials, a position he would occupy well in the Eighties. On Broadway he designed costumes for The Wiz, which debuted in 1975. On Broadway he directed and choreographed Timbuktu!. He also designed costumes for s John Taras’s 1982 production of The Firebird for the Dance Theatre of Harlem. He also continued to work in dance. He staged the ballet Prodigal Prince, also composing the score, in 1971. He also staged the ballet Dougla in 1974.

In the Eighties Geoffrey Holder appeared in the film Annie (1982) as Punjab. He was the narrator of the film Where Confucius Meets the New Wave (1987). On television he choreographed the opening of The Cosby Show for its fifth season. He appeared as the Cheshire Cat in an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland on Great Performances in 1983. He appeared in the TV movies John Grin's Christmas and Ghost of a Chance.

In the Nineties Mr Holder appeared in the films Boomerang (1992) and Goosed (1999).  He provided the voice of Jean St. Mouchoir for the video game Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller (1995) and the voice of Ray the Sun in the TV show Bear in the Big Blue House. In the Naughts Geoffrey Hunter appeared in the film Butterfield (2008), as well as the documentary Geoffrey Holder: The Unknown Side (2002). He narrated the movies Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and The Little Wizard: Guardian of the Magic Crystals (2008).

Geoffrey Holder continued to paint all his life. He had works shown at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C.  and at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. He was also a photographer. A collection of his photography, Adam, was published by Viking Press in 1986. He was a sculptor as well.

One could not help but notice Geoffrey Holder. He stood six foot six and possessed an incredible, booming voice with a Caribbean lilt. It was for this reason that he was often cast in exotic roles, that of Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die and Punjab in Annie. In many respects this is regrettable, as Mr. Holder was a multi-talented performer capable of playing a large number of roles. Indeed, Geoffrey Holder was a true renaissance man. While most people might think of him only as Baron Samedi, Punjab, or "the 7 Up Man", Mr. Holder was an actor, dancer, choreographer, painter, costume designer, sculptor, photographer, and vocalist. Many performers are described as triple threats (that is, they can act, sing, and dance), Geoffrey Holder was so much more.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Late Great Paul Revere of The Raiders

Paul Revere (far left) & The Raiders
circa 1967

Paul Revere, founding member, leader, and keyboardist for the legendary rock band Paul Revere & The Raiders, died Saturday, 4 October 2014, at the age of 76. The cause was cancer. Known for dressing in Revolutionary War garb, Paul Revere & The Raiders had a string of hits in the mid to late Sixties, including "Just Like Me", "Kicks", "Hungry", "Good Thing", and "Him Or Me, What's It Gonna Be". 

Paul Revere was born Paul Revere Dick on 7 January 1938 in Harvard, Nebraska. As a boy he learned to play piano and formed his first band while he was still a teenager. A restaurateur in Boise, Idaho in his early twenties, he met Mark Lindsay, who worked at a bakery that provided hamburger buns for Paul Revere's restaurants. Mark Lindsay joined Paul Revere's band as lead vocalist and saxophonist. It was Mr. Lindsay who suggested that they name the band "The Downbeats". The band cut a demo for Los Angeles based label Gardena Records, who insisted that the band change their name. As Paul Revere Dick shared his first and middle names with famous Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere, The Downbeats became Paul Revere and The Raiders.

Paul Revere & The Raiders' first two singles ("Beatnik Sticks" and "Paul Revere's Ride") failed to chart, although their third single, the saxophone driven instrumental "Like, Long Hair", went to #38 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961. Unfortunately it was about the same time that Paul Revere was drafted into the military. A conscientious objector, he spent his time in the service as a cook in a mental hospital. In the meantime Mark Lindsay and the band continued to tour with Leon Russell taking Paul Revere's place as keyboardist.

Paul Revere was demobilised in 1962 and returned to the band that summer. The group relocated to Oregon where they soon became known for their performances. Eventually Paul Revere & The Raiders attracted the attention of Columbia Records, who signed the band. Unfortunately their first single for the label would be outshone by another version of the same song by another Northwestern band. Around 13 Apirl 1963 Paul Revere & The Raiders recorded the song "Louie, Louie". On 6 April 1963 their rivals, The Kingsmen, had also recorded the song.  The Kingsmen's version of "Louie, Louie" went all the way to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent a total of 16 weeks on the chart. In comparison, Paul Revere & The Raiders' version only went to #108 on the Billboard singles chart. Of course, while Paul Revere & The Raiders would go on to become one of the best known bands of the Sixties, The Kingsmen would remain known primarily for "Louie, Louie".

It was in 1965 that what is regarded by some as the classic line up of Paul Revere and The Raiders took shape. It was then that bassist Mike "Doc" Holliday was replaced as bassist by Phil "Fang" Volk. Through 1966 Paul Revere and The Raiders consisted of Mark Lindsay on lead vocals, Paul Revere on keyboards, Drake Levin on guitar, Phil Volk on bass, and Mike "Smitty" Smith on drums. Drake Levin had to leave the band in 1966 in order to fulfil his military service by joining the National Guard, although his guitar work can be heard on the late 1966 album The Spirit of '67. He was replaced by guitarist Jim "Harpo" Valley.

It was also in 1965 that Terry Melcher, who had produced both The Beach Boys and The Byrds, became their producer. Mr. Melcher fashioned a new sound for Paul Revere & The Raiders, one that blended the sound of such British bands as The Beatles, The Dave Clark Five, and The Who with that of American R&B. Quite simply, Paul Revere & The Raiders went from early garage rock to proto-power pop. The new sound proved successful. The band's single, "Steppin' Out", went to #46 on the Billboard singles chart, the highest the band had charted since "Like, Long Hair" in 1961. Their next single would prove to be their biggest hit yet. "Just Like Me" peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In the wake of the success of "Just Like Me" Paul Revere & The Raiders would have a string of hits on the Billboard Hot 100. At one point their total sales would only be surpassed by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Paul Revere & The Raiders reached the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 with the songs "Kicks", "Hungry", "The Great Airplane Strike", "Good Thing", "Ups And Downs", "Him Or Me, What's It Gonna Be", "Let Me", and yet others. Their albums also sold well. Just Like Us! (1966) went to #5 on the Billboard albums chart. Midnight Ride (1966) went to #9, as did The Spirit of '67 (1966). Midnight Ride is notable for producing a song that would become a famous track for another band. "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" would later be recorded by The Monkees.

In the mid-Sixties Paul Revere & The Raiders were aided a great deal by appearing frequently on television. Paul Revere & The Raiders were regulars on Dick Clark's weekday afternoon show Where the Action Is from 1965 to 1966. On the show the band dressed in their signature Revolutionary War uniforms and engaged in slapstick comedy in between (and sometimes during) songs. Paul Revere and Mark Lindsay later hosted Dick Clark's Saturday programme Happening '68, on which The Raiders frequently appeared. They also hosted its weekday spinoff, It's Happening. It's Happening would be cancelled in late 1968, while Happening (as it was later retitled) lasted until late 1969. Paul Revere & The Raiders also appeared frequently on other television shows in the Sixties as well, including Hollywood a Go-Go, Hullabaloo, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and Della. They even put in an appearance on Batman.

Unfortunately things began to fall apart for Paul Revere & The Raiders in the late Sixties. Guitarist Jim "Harpo" Valley left in early 1967 to embark on a solo career. Drake Levin would return to the band as its guitarist, but would not remain long. He, Phil Volk, and Mike "Smitty" Smith left Paul Revere & The Raiders in spring 1967 to form their own band, Brotherhood. Perhaps more serious than the line up changes in Paul Revere & The Raiders were the changing musical tastes of the late Sixties. Although Paul Revere & The Raiders were not regularly hitting the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 as they did in the years 1966-1967, the band continued to hit the top forty well into 1969. Unfortunately, "Let Me" would be their last top twenty hit for some time. While their albums of the mid-Sixties hit the top ten of the Billboard albums chart, their albums Hard 'N' Heavy (with Marshmallow) and Alias Pink Puzz (both released in 1969) only went to #51 and #48 respectively. Sadly, Paul Revere & The Raiders' proto-power pop sound was out of step with the psychedelia and progressive rock of the late Sixties, and their Revolutionary War uniforms and choreography made it difficult for some to take them seriously.

In an effort to regain their success, Paul Revere & The Raiders then became simply "The Raiders" and attempted to change their sound. Collage saw The Raiders experimenting with psychedelia and the sort of jazz rock characterised by Blood, Sweat, & Tears. The album sold very poorly, going only to #154 on the Billboard albums chart. The Raiders' fortunes would change after they recorded the  John D. Loudermilk song "Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)". First recorded in 1959 by  Marvin Rainwater, a version by Don Fardon had reached #20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968. The Raiders' version would do even better, going all the way to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The hit single was featured on the album Indian Reservation, which reached #19 on the albums chart. The second single from Indian Reservation, "Birds of a Feather", also did well. It went to #23 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Unfortunately, the success of  "Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)" would not return The Raiders to their former dominance of the charts. Their next album, Country Wine (released in 1972), only went to #209 on the albums chart. Its singles, "Country Wine" and "Powder Blue Mercedes Queen", only went to #51 and #54 on the Billboard Hot 100 respectively. The Raiders continued to release singles through 1976, although none of them charted. The year 1976 would prove to be a turning point for the band. Not only did Mark Lindsay leave the band, but Columbia Records dropped Paul Revere & The Raiders.

Once more billed as "Paul Revere & The Raiders", the band would release a few more albums. In 1983 there would be three albums alone. Special Edition was a self released album, while The Great Raider Reunion was released on ERA and Paul Revere Rides Again on Hitbound Records. These would be the last Paul Revere & The Raiders albums. Since then Paul Revere & The Raiders continued to tour. The band performed both in Las Vegas and at the Dick Clark American Bandstand Theatre in Branson, Missouri. The band's classic line up of Paul Revere, Mark Lindsay, guitarist Drake Levin, bassist Phil "Fang" Volk, and drummer Mike "Smitty" Sith reunited for Dick Clark's prime time special Good Old Days in 1978. Messrs. Lindsay, Levin, Volk, and Smith reunited without Paul Revere on 19 September 1997 at a performance in Portland, Oregon.

In many respects it was fortuitous that Paul Revere was named for the famous Revolutionary War hero. After all, during the later years of the British Invasion Paul Revere & The Raiders numbered among the few American bands that could rival the British groups in chart success. In fact, for a time the sales of Paul Revere & The Raiders records were only surpassed by two British bands: The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Of course, even with their chart successes (and perhaps in part because of them), there was a time in the late Sixties and early Seventies when Paul Revere & The Raiders simply were not taken seriously. What the critics who focused on their Revolutionary War uniforms, choreographed moves, and humorous antics failed to see was that Paul Revere & The Raiders were not only a very talented band, but also in some respects a very revolutionary band. Led by Paul Revere and Mark Lindsay and produced by Terry Melcher, Paul Revere & The Raiders created a sound that could be described as "proto-power pop" (or perhaps outright "power pop"). It was a sound that would have a lasting influence on both the rock subgenres of power pop and punk. Drake Levin's blues influenced guitar and Phil Volk's revolutionary use of the bass would have a lasting impact not only on power pop and punk, but on rock music in general.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Paul Revere & The Raiders' songs have been covered several times: "(I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone") by The Monkees, The Sex Pistols, and The Farm; "Just Like Me" by Pat Benatar, Joan Jett, and The Circle Jerks; "Hungry" by Sammy Hagar and The She Creatures; and "Kicks" by David Edwards and The Monkees.

Of course, Paul Revere & The Raiders would not have been possible without Paul Revere.  After all, it was Paul Revere who founded the band. It was also Paul Revere who brought such musicians as Drake Levin, Phil Volk, and Mike "Smitty" Smith into the band. It was those three who, with Mark Lindsay, would take a garage band with little in the way of chart success and turn it into one of the most successful bands of the Sixties, as well as pioneers in rock music. It was also Paul Revere who continued to tour with the band well after its heyday, thus keeping the band's name in the public eye. While The Raiders will continue without Paul Revere (billed as "Paul Revere's Raiders"), his death is then very much the end of an era.