Mark Lindsay, Hal Blaine and the Raiders’ #1 Hit, ‘Indian Reservation’

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Mark Lindsay, on the cover of his 1970 solo LP

Following the March 11, 2019, death of recording session legend Hal Blaine, many of the artists who made recordings with the Los Angeles-based session musicians known as the Wrecking Crew shared stories about working with the drummer. One such musician is Mark Lindsay, best known as the lead vocalist of Paul Revere and the Raiders.

In a span from 1965-1971 the Raiders, with Lindsay on lead vocals, earned 11 Top 20 singles, including a pair of 1966 #4 hits, “Kicks” and “Good Thing.” In 1971, they earned their sole #1 hit with “Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian).”

While performing on the Happy Together 2018 tour, Lindsay had what he calls “a few dizzy episodes on stage.” After the tour ended, he arranged for a physical and on his way to the appointment, he passed out and his wife, Deb, instead drove to the ER. It turns out some of his “wiring” was frayed and he wasn’t getting enough oxygen. A pacemaker was installed.

Best Classic Bands spoke to Lindsay, where he’s enjoying the Florida sun and he told us, “I truly feel 10 years younger than when this happened.” He celebrated his 82nd birthday on March 9, 2024.

In 1971, Lindsay was looking for material for a new Mark Lindsay single. Columbia Records’ West Coast head of A&R, Jack Gold, called him: “I’ve got your next single,” suggesting “Indian Reservation.”

The song was written by John D. Loudermilk, who’d also penned “Tobacco Road” and “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye.” Lindsay was intrigued; the book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was a current NYT best-seller and Lindsay, himself, is part Cherokee.

With Lindsay producing—his usual producer, Jerry Fuller, was unavailable—members of the Wrecking Crew were selected for the session by Artie Butler, who had arranged the charts, and was on piano and organ; Al Casey on guitar; Vic Feldman on vibes and vibraslap; and Carol Kaye on bass.

On drums was Hal Blaine. “Hal was always the first musician to arrive at CBS Studios in Hollywood when we had a recording date,” Lindsay recalls. “And there he was, once again, first on the scene for the ‘Indian Reservation’ session.

“I arrived shortly after the engineers and was nervous as hell because I had never produced myself before, and this was to be a Mark Lindsay record.”

Glen Campbell (r.) with drummer Hal Blaine at a Wrecking Crew session (Photo: Denny Tedesco archives; used with permission)

He continues: “There was a plethora of drums set up and miked, and Hal was at his kit fine tuning. He saw me in the booth and waved me out on the floor of Studio A, the big room at CBS. Hal was really excited. ‘Dig this, man!’ he said, showing me the new set-up. ‘I just had these made, and I can’t wait to try ’em out!’

“Along with his small, medium and floor toms, he had a rolling rack of seven toms on a curved tube that stretched around his kit to the right. ‘Look, man! I can do an octave and a half!’ And he showed me as he beat his way around the kit.

“Wow!” Lindsay replied. “That’s a lotta drums. Hope we can use some of ’em today.

“We did a couple of run-throughs, and there were a few starts and stops as the players wanted elucidation about a few notes here and there on their charts. When everything was ironed out, I said, ‘Roll tape!’ and slated Take 1. Artie counted it off and away we went.

“When we got to the first chorus, there was a 2-bar fill for drums. I don’t think Artie had written the fills, leaving it up to Hal and his impeccable taste. Hal played 4’s on his hi-hat and cymbals for the first bar and a half, and filled the last half of the second bar with toms.

“I hollered, ‘Stop tape!’ and punched the talk-back button. ‘Hal, can you play 4’s on the first bar, but fill the whole second bar?’ “We started Take 2 and Hal played accordingly. I stopped tape again. ‘Hal,’ I said, ‘when we get to that section this time, fill both bars…and use as many toms as you want!’”

After the musicians had left, says Lindsay, he and Butler were listening to the playback. “I said to him, ‘It ends too quick. We need some kind of dramatic ending like the organ on Janis Ian’s “Society’s Child.'” He said, ‘Why don’t we use that?’ I told him we can’t just rip that off. He said, ‘Don’t worry about it. I did that session; that’s my lick, man!’”

After the session, they brought in background singers and added strings, charted by John D’Andrea.

“When we were finished, I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I wondered if I was being objective. It was either going to be the biggest stiff or the biggest hit.

“The result—with Hal’s superb drumming—to this day I think ‘made’ that record.”

This ad for the single appeared in the April 10, 1971 issue of Record World

The single, billed as the Raiders, had a slow start on the chart. It debuted on April 10, but lost its “bullet” two weeks later. It continued a slow climb up the Record World and Billboard charts.

“At that same time,” Lindsay says, Paul Revere went on a cross-country motorcycle trip. “Whenever he saw a radio tower, he went in and said, ‘You’ve got to play my record.’ Paul would get in touch with the local Columbia promotion rep. He gave them that hook and to their credit, they leaned into it.”

On May 29, still making its slow upward climb, the single got its bullet back, at #37. Four weeks later, it went Top 10. Finally, on July 17, it hit #1 where it stayed for three weeks.

Listen to Blaine make magic on “Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)”

“It ended up becoming the biggest-selling 45 in the history of CBS Records, and was only surpassed years later by Michael Jackson with ‘Billie Jean,’” says Lindsay, proudly.

The July 31, 1971 chart, where “Indian Reservation” was #1 for its 3rd week

“I was lucky to be there on that magic day when Hal changed drum kits forever. And I’m convinced that the extra adrenalin and excitement of playing the brand new set of drums propelled Hal over the edge from a great performance to an iconic one.

“Hal Blaine, Drummer Man. What a nice guy, and what a f***ing talented cat. He was one of a kind and I, along with millions of other music lovers, are going to miss him forever.

“Whenever you hear thunder that sounds kind of rhythmic, it’s probably just Hal. Play on!”

Related: Other artists paid tribute to Hal Blaine

Raiders recordings are available here.

Greg Brodsky

31 Comments so far

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  1. whipsterus
    #1 whipsterus 13 March, 2019, 20:25

    I love the Raiders and have been a fan for years..I was so sad to hear about Paul’s passing and miss seeing him and the current band of Raiders perform all those wonderful songs and keep the hits alive..Im so glad Mark and Phil are still with us and really hope that Paul and all the Raiders,past and present might fonally be recognized for their contributions to American music by finally being inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame..they are long over due

    Reply this comment
    • Jim
      Jim 14 March, 2019, 08:09

      I agree with your view. I,too, love the Raiders and would have loved to see them at any point. I did see Paul by himself once and he was very entertaining. Will certainly try to catch the Raiders before they stop performing !

      Reply this comment
    • Jfisher515
      Jfisher515 14 March, 2019, 09:15

      Amen to that. Good old-fashioned rock n roll. Kicks, Just Like Me, Hungry etc. etc.

      Reply this comment
    • Rob
      Rob 21 July, 2019, 10:28

      Agree! The Raiders are versatile, highly talented musicians.

      Reply this comment
      • RecordSteve
        RecordSteve 18 July, 2021, 14:39

        Great update on Mark Lindsay especially the story of recording Indian Reservation. Stay healthy Mark you’ll always be welcomed in Ft.
        Walton Beach, FL or at any oldies show get your Kicks!

        Reply this comment
    • NelleN
      NelleN 18 July, 2020, 03:10

      I agree with everything you said! The Raiders were one of my favorite bands ever and I hope they will eventually end up in the Hall of Fame (The sooner the better!) Mark Lindsay – like Micky Dolenz – is an incredibly talented rock artist who was pigeon-holed as a teen idol. He is truly so much more!!!

      Reply this comment
  2. v2787
    #2 v2787 14 March, 2019, 14:07

    It is a crime that the Raiders are not in the Rock ‘n Roll HOF. They had tons of hits, were a hard rockin’ band, put on a great show, were on television more than any group ever, and carried on for fifty years. What else do they have to do to get in the hall?

    Reply this comment
    • v2787
      v2787 18 July, 2019, 09:34

      Apparently they have to be a lot less talented to get into the HOF–you know, like Run DMC, Madonna, Tupac, or Green Day. Paul Revere and the Raiders could smoke those “artists” any day of the week, but I guess you have to be a critics’ darling to get into the HOF. It’s a travesty that the Raiders aren’t in the HOF, but it’s not overly surprising.

      Reply this comment
  3. Lake City Leroy
    #3 Lake City Leroy 14 March, 2019, 14:54

    Well drat. I guess this means the old rumors about the writer being kidnapped by native Americans and then writing this song is untrue. Darn.

    Reply this comment
    • 122intheshade
      122intheshade 18 July, 2021, 01:03

      Next thing you know, the story about Mark’s gold hubcaps on his Rolls is fake, too. If J.D. says he was a match away from being boiled for dinner, I say give him the benefit of the doubt.

      Reply this comment
  4. Rock ‘n’Roll Hall of Fame Sucks
    #4 Rock ‘n’Roll Hall of Fame Sucks 18 July, 2019, 00:27

    V2787, if you haven’t figured it out by now the RNRHOF is a political group of morons that have no clue about music. It’s based on “MONEY” pure dollars and cents. Rolling Stone editor, Jann Wenner is part of the group of idiots that decide who gets in and who doesn’t. They say that they let us (the public) vote on who should get in or not but that’s all bullshit. The Raiders should be in along with many other groups & musicians. I’ve been to the HOF and it’s a major ripoff. They sell rock memorabilia & albums and really rip people off. I’ve been trying for many years to get Todd Rundgren in to no avail. It’s just another institution put together to make money regardless of who should be in or not….

    Reply this comment
    • Ron K
      Ron K 21 July, 2019, 11:05

      The Dave Clark Five finally got in, after at least two of them were dead. It helped that among their most vocal fans were Bruce Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt.

      Maybe the Raiders just need someone big in their corner.

      It’s sad to see that they didn’t play on this record, though. Why is that? They were competent enough. Steve Simels of Stereo Review said “The truth is that they were the first American band of the Sixties to approach the power of the best English
      outfits of the period (Drake Levin may have been the first Yank to really
      play *electric* guitar).”

      Incidentally, these two bands both had members named Mike Smith.

      Reply this comment
  5. Alias Pink Puzz
    #5 Alias Pink Puzz 17 July, 2020, 11:42

    The question is why was the single released under the Raiders, not Mark Lindsay?

    Reply this comment
    • BMac
      BMac 18 July, 2023, 12:24

      I’ve been wondering the same thing, Alias PP! The only Raider on this song was Mark Lindsay, and it was originally pitched as a single for Lindsay. So why was it billed as “The Raiders”?

      Reply this comment
      • Ron Fowler
        Ron Fowler 14 April, 2024, 02:49

        Paul always said that the band recorded Indian Reservation while doing an album in 1970. It was common practice back then for the Wrecking Crew to supplement the band in the studio. Besides Mark and Paul, the Raiders in 1970 were Freddy Weller on guitar, Keith Allison on guitar and bass, and Joe Correro Jr. on drums.

        Reply this comment
  6. Max
    #6 Max 6 August, 2020, 09:31

    Indian Reservation is a great song and takes me back to my youth. RNRHOF is a waste – to think Chris Squire passed before Yes got in is a travesty. They wait far too long to make crucial decisions on the bands that are deserving.

    Reply this comment
  7. Batchman
    #7 Batchman 21 January, 2021, 18:11

    Anybody notice in the Record World 1971 singles chart screen clip that “Draggin’ the Line” is credited to “Tommy Taylor” (instead of Tommy James)?

    Reply this comment
  8. JennyB
    #8 JennyB 21 April, 2021, 03:54

    I agree completely re RNRHOF…waste of time. I was there during the first year it opened and was so disappointed that I requested my entrance fee back, but gave the manager of the time an earful! I’ve been a HUGE fan of Mark and The Raiders since the beginning and was lucky to have seen them live and they really kicked serious butt on Indian Reservation! Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll! Belated Birthday wishes to Mark! Many more to ya’!

    Reply this comment
  9. Zemgiy1213
    #9 Zemgiy1213 18 July, 2021, 13:15

    The song was originally recorded by an artist by the name of Don Fardon and released as a single a year before the Raiders.

    Reply this comment
  10. JennyB
    #10 JennyB 10 March, 2022, 02:49

    Just a clarification…according to Mark, The Raiders were credited with IR because their contract with Columbia required that they had been contracted to provide a certain number of songs so, quite frankly, Mark got screwed. Beyond that, I’d like to wish Mark Happy 80th Birthday! Who knew we’d all still be rocking!? Mark, wish you were with the HT tour but you deserve to rest up and heal! Peace and Love, m’man!

    Reply this comment
    • Ron Fowler
      Ron Fowler 14 April, 2024, 02:51

      According to Paul, Indian Reservation was a Raiders recording. Mark is always dismissive of his bandmates contributions. To hear him tell it, all the Raiders hits were Wrecking Crew creations. I’ll take Paul’s word over Mark’s.

      Reply this comment
  11. hugh
    #11 hugh 12 March, 2022, 21:35

    jim valley (harpo) is still around the tacoma area…..

    Reply this comment
  12. Flash
    #12 Flash 17 July, 2022, 19:48

    Great story. Note that on the chart listed with “Indian Reservation” at #1, it shows #5 “Draggin’ The Line” by Tommy Taylor. Whoops, must’ve gotten mixed up with James Taylor (at #4), as that hit was most-assuredly done by Tommy James (post-Shondells). By the way, Don Fardon was a semi-one-hit wonder with HIS version of “Indian Reservation” that reached #20 back in 1968..

    Reply this comment
  13. Jim Southern
    #13 Jim Southern 18 July, 2022, 02:36

    I saw the original Raiders (without Paul Revere) at their hometown reunion at Oaks Park in Portland, OR some years ago. One of the best concerts I ever attended. I also happened to attend a reception for Mark awhile back and had a chance to spend a few minutes visiting with him. Two of my favorite memories!

    Reply this comment
    • Melf
      Melf 20 July, 2022, 01:48

      Luck was with you, seeing the Raiders. I can’t tell you how many times I must have worn out that single with overplaying! As far as the RRH, you have to view that as Disneyland for recording artists. It’s another venue to be noticed, accept and move on.
      Thanks for noting the charts for July 1971.
      Fun times for all.

      Reply this comment
  14. themikeison
    #14 themikeison 11 March, 2023, 20:47

    Very rare to see 14 positive comments in this section. A testament to the music of PR&R. I still have PR&R 45’s and albums in my collection. Watching PR&R on B&W TV via roof antenna in Victoria, British Columbia was my greatest joy. Seems like a lifetime ago. Thank you for such great songs.

    Reply this comment
  15. jester88
    #15 jester88 18 July, 2023, 09:22

    I saw Paul Revere and the Raiders in Syracuse in 1966 with my younger brother. It was our 1st concert. I am 71 now!

    Reply this comment
  16. Rob Gold
    #16 Rob Gold 19 July, 2023, 21:57

    Jack Gold, what a great A&R man!

    Reply this comment
    • Ron Fowler
      Ron Fowler 14 April, 2024, 02:53

      Yes he was. Jack Gold was the guy that brought the song to the band, thinking it would make a good addition to the album they were working on, and might even be a good choice for a single. The Don Fardon version didn’t get a lot of airplay, but where it did get played, it was very popular.

      Reply this comment

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