The Drake Levin Memorial

A few weeks ago, there was a wonderful memorial for Drake Levin, guitarist with Paul Revere & the Raiders. Family and friends came together to celebrate the man with beautiful stories, some funny jokes, and wonderful memories. I was asked to videotape the ceremony, and some of these stories were too good to not share, so here’s some snippets for your enjoyment:

Here’s a photo of some of us that were there, courtesy of Larry Rogers.

Drake Levin memorial photo by Larry Rogers

So could someone please tell me why Paul Revere & the Raiders aren’t in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

Seriously… why?

More on Drake Levin

Drake Levin, guitarist for Paul Revere & Raiders

The past week has brought a lot of traffic to the website, with a lot of people paying respect to Drake Levin, guitarist with Paul Revere & Raiders that died on July 4th. Here’s a few things I want to share about him:

1) Drake’s widow, Sandra Levin is selling Drake’s original guitar on eBay.

The guitar of Drake Levin

You can go to the eBay listing right now, and bid on this guitar, which is a vintage 1963 Epiphone Sheraton 335 guitar. This is the very same guitar Drake used during his Raiders days – on stage, on TV, and in the recording studio.

This was the guitar that Drake played with the Raiders when they played the Spanish Castle Ballroom, inspring a young Jimi Hendrix, who loved to see the Raiders, as well the Wailers play at this iconic Northwest establishment.

If are you are lucky enough to be able to purchase this guitar, you’d be owning a very special piece of rock and roll history, and all the money would go directly to his family. The auction ends on July 14th.

UPDATE: The highest bid for this guitar was $12,100.00, which did not meet the reserve, so the guitar still available.

2) There will be a memorial for Drake in San Francisco on Saturday, July 18 at the Hilton at 333 O’ Farrrell Street, beginning at 6 pm. It’s for family and friends, so if you knew Drake, please feel free to join us there.

3) On Monday, July 6th, there was a special tribute to Drake on the Late Show with David Letterman TV show, led by Paul Shaffer and his band. Here’s what they did….

4) Finally, here’s a nice little clip of Drake Levin peforming at the last full-fledged reunion of Paul Revere & the Raiders – the original core members that generated the big hits :

In midst of it all, I forgot to mention that Drake’s dear friend and fellow Raider Phil “Fang” Volk has a webpage where you can leave comments at the guestbook. Go visit him at:

RIP: Drake Levin, guitarist with Paul Revere & Raiders

Drake Levin, guitarist with Paul Revere & Raiders

I just got word that Drake Levin, guitarist with Paul Revere & the Raiders, has succumbed to cancer today, passing away at the age of 62 at his home in San Francisco, with his wife Sandra at his side.

I knew that Drake had cancer, and hoped to visit him, but I never had the chance. and now he’s gone.

Wikipedia had this entry for him:

Best known as the guitar player for Paul Revere and The Raiders. In 1966, Levin was forced to leave the performing version of the Raiders when the draft beckoned; to avoid a combat assignment, he joined the National Guard (a common strategy in those days, engaged in by at least one future U.S. president), which enabled him to record with the group during his time off. The fact that this was done is an indication of how well Levin stood in with Revere, as well as his popularity with the fans and the worth of his playing, because producer Terry Melcher wasn’t above bringing in session players whenever he felt it necessary. Subsequently, after Phil Volk and Mike “Smitty” Smith left the band, Levin reteamed with them in Brotherhood, a promising trio signed to RCA that never got its full chance to be heard, owing to the members’ lingering contractual obligations to Columbia Records from their Raiders work.
He subsequently demonstrated his worth as a guitarist by working with Ananda Shankar, Emitt Rhodes, and Lee Michaels, among other artists. He has also participated in reunions of various ex-members of the Raiders, and worked with his friend Phil Volk on several occasions. also shared some information about Drake Levin’s career in music:

When Drake Levin played lead guitar with Paul and the Raiders, he and bass guitarman Phil Volk would pull-off a showstopper: “Drake on top of the left speaker and Phil on right speaker … dancing!” Those guys could and would dance plus play their instruments with superb results. Drake and Phil would dance on the speakers and play guitars behind their heads at the same time!
Many guitarists can’t play at that level without even playing behind their heads! Once when they were performing at the Spanish Castle, a then- unknown Jimi Hendrix was in the audience, watching and learning from Drake. This was in 1963 or 1964 before Jimi made it big. Drake was obviously an influence to the guitar playing and showmanship of many musicians. Paul Schaefer of “The Late Show with David Letterman” is a fan.
Drake was with Paul Revere & the Raiders starting in 1963 and on into ’67. While he was in the National Guard he would come to record with them in the studio and even fill in for Phil Volk during a couple of concerts, playing the bass. Drake, Smitty and Phil left the Raiders in 1967 to form The Brotherhood.

Here’s a few other pages that discuss Drake Levin:

One part street punk, one part John Lee Hooker... (a fan page for Drake)

Paul Revere & Raiders – Past & Present Members

Curtis Lawson Band featuring Drake Levin – Live At The Saloon

The Sinners Band – one of the last bands Drake was involved with

Here’s a clip that features Drake with Paul Revere & the Raiders:

Here’s a semi-recent clip of Drake with The Sinners:

Rest in peace, Drake. You will be missed.

(thanks to Lloyd Phillips for sharing this cool poster on Flickr)
Drake's other band

UPDATE: On Monday night, I got an email from Little Beach Girl:

This is the first time I have gotten to see your website; it’s really groovy! You have so many pages for fans of “Louie, Louie” to browse! Paul Revere & the Raiders, namely Drake, Smitty, Phil, Mark, & Paul, could do “Louie, Louie” like no other. As you know, these five guys, along with the super cool Terry Melcher, wrote and recorded a follow-up song, entitled “Louie, Go Home”. They recorded two arrangements of it, both of them excellent.

On your page for Drake, you have links to other websites’ pages that talk about him. I would appreciate it very much if you would add my links as well. “Terry Melcher – Honoring A Musical Genius” is a website I started several years ago when I saw that there wasn’t yet a website dedicated to Terry and his amazing artistry. I have two pages that particularly highlight Drake’s talents: one where I have an in-depth review of the album “Midnight Ride with Paul Revere & the Raiders”
( )
and one dedicated solely to Drake
( )
which I added several months ago. Thank you!

Paul Shaffer & World’s Most Dangerous Band (1989 or 1990?)- LOUIE of the Week

This week’s LOUIE of the Week is yet another archival rendition of the song. Twenty years ago, before David Letterman moved over to CBS, Paul Shaffer was the musical director for Late Night with David Letterman on NBC. He put out out his very first solo album, which was called “Coast to Coast,” released by Capitol Records in 1989. One of the songs on this album was …. LOUIE LOUIE.

Thanks to good ol’ YouTube and an archivist by the name of TheRealKappaX, the world can see a cool video performance of this song by Paul Shaffer & World’s Most Dangerous Band, which included Will Lee, Sid McGinnis and Anton Figg. The YouTube clip notes that this was a 1990 performance, but I’m guessing it might have been 1989, as it probably happened around the same time as the album/ CD release.

I love this performance! The band is wearing American Revolutionary War soldier uniforms that look like they came out of the wardrobe of Paul Revere & the Raiders!

The “Coast to Coast” album/ CD has been out of print for a few years now, but if you have an interest in obtaining this, I’m sharing an Amazon Associates link for this recording, which would provide a little extra income for the project. I found two different listings for the same product with two very different prices. In theory, the higher priced listing would provide a bigger commission, but frankly, if you really want to provide some extra love to this project, I’d recommend going for the cheaper option, and then sharing whatever extra money you’d like via the PayPal donation button to make a direct contribution to the cause…

Either way, a wise man once said…. “grab your woman, it’s LOUIE LOUIE time!”


Jack Ely & Courtmen in Las Vegas 2008 – LOUIE of the Month

I’ve written about this year’s reunion of Jack Ely & the Courtmen at the The Sand Dollar Blues Room in Las Vegas back in October. The Courtmen was the band that Jack assembled after a court order prohibited him from using the Kingsmen name. As you may or may not know, Jack was the original vocalist for the Kingsmen when they created that iconic recording back in 1963, but he never had a chance to tour with the original band after the big hit record.

It’s time to share some footage from that event, courtesy of Andy Martello. Here’s the 2008 version of LOUIE, which I’ve declared LOUIE of the Month.

Because my friend Andy has shared more great video from this show at the Sand Dollar Blues Club, I decided I’d post these clips as well. The second view shows the band performing “David’s Mood,” which was the B-side of Jack’s “Louie, Louie ’66” 45 rpm single. This particular song was written by Dave Lewis, a highly influential Northwest musician that passed away ten years ago.

If you don’t know who Dave Lewis was, click here, here, or here. Or just purchase the The Godfather of Northwest Rock CD. There are some people that believe Dave Lewis was one of the FIRST musicians to ever perform Richard Berry‘s LOUIE LOUIE back in the late 1950s, even if he never recorded it, but that’s another story in itself….

For the third clip provided by Andy, the band performs the Paul Revere & the Raiders sequel, “Louie, Go Home.” Musicologists* often note that both The Kingsmen and Paul Revere & the Raiders were from Portland, Oregon, recording LOUIE LOUIE in the same studio, less than a week apart in April 1963.

Here’s yet another clip from that same show, which provides a nice overview of this event, despite some of the misinformation embedded in the graphics and YouTube description.

* UPDATE: Jack provides a correction:

“Musicologists” are wrong. Paul Revere and the Raiders were from Caldwell Idaho at the time.

Pat Mason shares a little story

I’ve been sorting through a lot of videotapes, as I continue to work on this big documentary of mine. If it’s not one thing, it’s another thing that distracts me from the task of making faster progress with the editorial process. Hi8mm videotape, which was the primary format for production of this project during the 1990’s, has been a real nightmare to deal with. When I finish this project, I could probably write a book on just the tech challenges I’ve had to deal with – tape drop-outs, sound synch issues, PCM audio playback problems, and so much more. It would have been nice if I had the budget to shoot everything with Betacam SP back then, but I didn’t always have that luxury. Digital video in 2008 is soooooo much easier to deal than the various formats I’ve used in the course of this project. Kids starting video today probably don’t realize how easy they’ve got it….

in spite of all the headaches I’ve had to deal with, I do get a lot of gratification looking at the footage that I’ve captured that nobody else has. I’ve been able to gather some great stories from many people that are no longer with us, and that feels absolutely wonderful.

Today, I’ve decided to share a portion of my interview with Pat Mason, who died in 2001 at the age of 93 years old. This is a little story Pat shared about working with Little Richard and Fats Domino in Yakima, Washington during the 1950’s. This is from an interview took place at Pat’s home in Seaside, Oregon in October 1996.

Pat Mason was one of the most influential booking agents in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Richard Berry could all thank Pat Mason for setting up their very first shows in that region, as well as countless other musicians too numerous to mention. Willie Nelson was hired by Pat as a disc jockey for a radio station in Vancouver, Washington. Gene Vincent spent a year living in Pat Mason’s basement. Paul Revere & the Raiders hired Pat Mason as a tour manager when they became big rock stars signed to Columbia Records. After Jack Ely left the Kingsmen, it was Pat Mason that talked Jack into assembling “Jack Ely & the Kingsmen” to cash in on the public appetite for “Louie Louie.”

I’ve got some great stories from Pat, and this little clip is the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps after I finish this LOUIE project, I’ll allow some of this material to be used for another project. Or maybe I’ll just include these interviews as part of the bonus material for the eventual “MEANING OF LOUIE” DVD package. We’ll see…

You can read all about Pat’s amazing career at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame page.

RIP: Mark Lindsay’s Rock & Roll Cafe

Mark Lindsay's Rock & Roll Cafe

Less than one year after Mark Lindsay‘s Rock & Roll Cafe opened, it closed down.

Here’s the official word from the official website, posted May 12, 2008:

Dear Wonderful Customers,

Sadly, we must reluctantly announce the closure of the Rock n’ Roll Café.

We have greatly appreciated your loyal support.

The Owners

More information about Mark Lindsay and his projects at
Mark Lindsay’s MySpace page

Wayne MacKinnon, who lives in Portland, shot some video of the cafe after the closing, and is sharing his footage via YouTube. The YouTube description provided some insight of why the venue closed down. Check it out:

A Tale of Two Pauls

Here’s a funny little mashing of two completely different public personalities.

Here’s a frame shot of the official website for Paul Revere & the Raiders – Northwest rock and roll, video pioneers, and first successful rock and roll band for Columbia Records, the world’s largest record label of the 1960s.

Paul Revere & the Raiders - webpage

Now, here’s a frame shot of the webpage for Ron Paul’s Raiders. Ron Paul was the unsuccessful libertarian, independent-minded Republican candidate for the United States, and this organization was a grass-roots effort to get him elected.

Ron Paul's Raiders -the webpage

As you might have heard, Ron Paul didn’t win the Republican nomination, but he did inspire a lot of people with a very fresh outlook on American politics. I applaud the spirit of his candidacy that encouraged accountability in public service, and fiscal conservatism. With any luck, I hope such efforts will inspire a more responsible generation of politicians.

Paul Revere on the hand, continues to perform all year around. He’s a semi-regular at Branson, and also currently has gigs lined up at Las Vegas, Orlando, and Tunica.

More than just a mere entertainer, Paul also serves as on the board of directors of Ride To The Wall Foundation, a non-profit foundation that raises money for various veteran’s outreach programs.

So we’ve got two Pauls – an iconic entertainer that does outreach for veteran’s groups, and a politician that has inspired many folks to become political.

As far as I know, only one of these guys performed LOUIE LOUIE, but I could be wrong….

(thanks to Cindy Mulvey of H.E.A.L. for the heads up on this one)

LOUIE of the Week – Vintage Paul Revere & Raiders video clip

Today it’s my birthday. It’s Mark Lindsay‘s too. I’m gonna have a good time… I’d like you to dance…

Yes, today is March 9, the birthday for yours truly, the producer/director of the upcoming LOUIE LOUIE documentary, and webmaster/janitor for this little website.

March 9 is also the birthday for Mark Lindsay, the first lead singer for Paul Revere & the Raiders; David Pogue, New York Times technology writer and publisher of the wonderful Missing Manuals book series; the late Mickey Spillane, author of some entertaining Mike Hammer novels; Vyacheslav Molotov, namesake for an explosive cocktail; John Cale; Robin Trower; Ornette Coleman; Keely Smith; Lloyd Price and the late Yuri Gagarin, the first astronaut to orbit the earth.

I am in very good company.

So, to honor this special occasion, I thought I’d give the LOUIE of the Week award to a vintage video recording of Mark with Paul Revere & the Raiders performing LOUIE LOUIE. It’s actually a lip-synch performance of the original 1963 studio recording.

I’m actually a little angry with Mark Lindsay. The folks that handle his online Groovy Stuff web-store are doing a terrible job taking care of orders. I’ve got a good friend that ordered some stuff from the website many months ago, and he’s been completely ignored. This is not good, and I hope Mark is able to resolve the issue quickly. Until the customer service issues are resolved, I would encourage folks to consider the advice “BUYER BEWARE!”

Mark is a very talented musician, and none of this nonsense should diminish the fact that he’s played a very important role in rock & roll history, particularly when it comes to the legend of LOUIE LOUIE. I encourage folks to attend his shows, listen to his radio program, and visit his restaurant. If you’re in Portland, Oregon today, this would be a very good day to do so. Tell ’em LOUIE sent cha… wish him a Happy Birthday and remind him that he needs to hire someone else to do a better job administrating his webstore.

By the way, for those of you feel like helping me celebrate March 9th , here’s a way to share your support:

Send paypal to louie at will you?

My thanks to all that continue to support

(who should be sailing a ship on the sea on this day)

The Organization Known as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

One of the most discussed topics in the rock music community is the organization known as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This week, there was an announcement about the latest inductees to this organization – Madonna, Leonard Cohen, John Mellencamp, The Ventures, and The Dave Clark Five. For the most part, I do think these five musical acts probably deserve to be in this institution, but my biggest beef is that there’s been too many acts from the 1950’s and 1960’s that have been completely ignored. I think it’s important that the pioneers of rock music be honored before the newcomers, if this institute is serious about acknowledging the roots of musical art form.

Here’s who I would add to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, if I had any voice in the matter:

Richard Berry – Of course, he would be my number one choice. Not only did he author the world’s most recorded rock and roll song of all time, but he was also one of the most under-rated singer-songwriters in rock and roll history. His voice provided an essential element to the very first hit singles by Etta James and The Robins (pre-Coasters). He was truly a singer’s singer and provided a lot of uncredited support to a lot of recording in the Los Angeles rhythm and blues community. Of course, I’m biased. He was my friend, and when I finish this documentary, I hope the world will come to realize what an important person he was in the history of rock and roll.

Jesse Belvin – Jesse was Richard Berry’s mentor, and one of the most influential singer-songwriters in the Los Angeles rhythm and blues / Doo-Wop vocal group community. By the same token, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame also needs to acknowledge The Flairs, Eugene Church, Arthur Lee Maye, Tony Allen, and a whole lot of other musicians that helped shape the fabric of this thing we call “rock and roll.”

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – Why not bring in one of the most outrageous rock and roll performers to this organization? Alan Freed, one of the more influential people defining this musical hybrid of multiple genres, certainly understood what Screamin’ Jay was all about. What’s not to understand? He deserves to be acknowledged.

Paul Revere & the Raiders – This was considered the “first rock band” on Columbia Records, the largest record label in the 1960’s. It was a major breakthrough when the record label featuring A&R executive/ musician Mitch Miller decided to finally acknowledge this new-fangled music genre by signing Revere & company to the label in 1963. While history shows Columbia may have signed other rock bands before Raiders (not including that folkie, Bob Dylan), it was the Raiders that had the first major chart action. When the Raiders became TV stars with Dick Clark‘s Where the Action Is show, they also became music video pioneers, leading the way for the MTV generation. They had very catchy songs, did wild performances, and sold a ton of records. Why they’re not members of this Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is strictly a matter of petty politics at the organization. This should be a no-brainer.

The (Fabulous) Wailers – This was a highly influential band in the Pacific Northwest that inspired a lot of other musicians. Not only did fellow Northwest musicians like Jimi Hendrix, the Kingsmen and the Sonics acknowledge this group, but they also got a lot of attention overseas from such artists as the Beatles, the Who, and many others. They continue to be an active musical group well into the 21st Century, but receive very little within their own country, which completely baffles me.

The Kingsmen – Doesn’t America’s number one party band deserve some credit for creating the iconic recording of the world’s most performed rock and roll song? Yes, they borrowed the song from Richard Berry, using the template created by Rockin’ Robin and the Wailers, but they created their own imperfect masterpiece that inspired millions of musicians. While they should be constantly reminded to play their other big hit (“Jolly Green Giant”) at their concerts, there should be no question that they also deserve a prime seat at the big table of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Monkees – Maybe they were the “Pre-Fab Four,” created by entertainment industry executives to fulfill a niche, but they were still a highly influential rock band. Like Paul Revere & the Raiders, they had a wealth of very catchy songs, and with their successful TV show, became true pioneers in the invention of the Music Video format. After breaking away from the managers that molded their initial formation, they took control of their destinies, and continued to create many lasting contributions to the rock music universe. Of course, Michael Nesmith, one of the members, also needs to be acknowledged for being one of the people that actually created MTV.

There’s a lot of other great musicians that I also believe should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, including Wanda Jackson, The Sonics, Dale Hawkins, Arthur Alexander, Larry Williams, Esquerita, Cheap Trick, Dick Dale, Davie Allan & the Arrows, Cub Koda, Ian Lloyd & The Stories, Badfinger, Big Star, the Replacements, Black Flag, the Dead Kennedys, and even some of those artsy-progressive groups like King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, and a handful of others, but the ones I wrote about are the ones that I have a very strong opinion about. When I look at the list of some of the artists that are in the Hall, I can’t help but shake my head and say “What the *$#k?” but I’d rather not make any statements right now about specific artists on my blog, as I actually like some of their music, even though I don’t think they should really be in the Hall.

There’s a website called that discusses past, present and future members of this organization, so I’d recommend folks check this out, as well as the official website and the WikiPedia entry.

Certainly, if anyone want to discuss this topic by making comments at this blog posting, please be my guest….