Original story published on examiner.com and reprinted in full below:
You’ll see two photos in the latest issue of “People Magazine,” posted online Jan. 14, 2015: Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, two American patriots whose time capsule was buried in 1795, being unearthed. That’s one. The other is a two-page photo spread, commemorating the life of musician and band leader, Paul Revere. In life as in death, the work we do, the people we know, and those who truly love us, individually and collectively, shape the impression that our life, and work, leaves behind after we are gone.
As the final weeks of 2014 arrived, and as the holidays set in, the loss of one of classic rock’s music icons began to be ever more real. Paul Revere loved Christmas, and he loved the advent of a new year ahead. That new year appearing had always meant packing for an annual January adventure aboard Concerts at Sea, his very own “Where the Action Is” cruise, with a ship-full of his family, friends, fellow musicians, and fans aboard for the fun.
October 4, 2014, marked Paul’s actual departure from this world after a lengthy and courageous battle with cancer. A very special memorial service was arranged for Oct. 13, at the holy, beautiful Cathedral of the Rockies, Boise First United Methodist Church. Because of Sydney Revere and the family’s lasting appreciation to the fans of Paul Revere and his Raiders, the funeral service was livestreamed on the Internet for simultaneous viewing. Boise FUMC’s Pastor Duane Anders opened the occasion, noting “It’s hard to capture anyone’s life in just a few words. Today we gather in love to remember, to mourn, laugh and hear music as we witness and testify to one of God’s children, Paul Revere.
The funeral proceedings featured Master of Ceremonies Tom Scott, and seven guest speakers who offered such distinct and beautiful memories of Paul that shared one common theme: Paul’s love for his fellow men and women, with the most special spot in his heart for the men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces. Named for a patriot, Paul lived as a patriot, never passing by an opportunity to thank active duty service personnel for their gift of time and service to the country. Revere also made it his personal mission in life to provide for, care and share with the veterans who endured acts of war, times of strife, and weeks of recuperation to return home and try to pick up the pieces of their lives and move on.
Tom Scott shared personal thanks for the outpouring of affection expressed to the family by so many residents of Idaho, noting “There will never be another like Paul Revere.” Tom recalled a January 1971 visit where Paul rode his chopper to radio station KFXD to bring test pressings of two songs, “Birds of a Feather” and “Indian Reservation,” thinking “Birds” had the best chance of being a hit. Scott played both songs and the listeners voted 3 to 1 for “Indian Reservation.” The song shot to Number 1 very quickly. Mike Allen and Revere visited radio stations all across the state to promote the song, and six months later, it was a million-selling single that ultimately became their best-known hit.
When the governor of your home state makes your funeral service his priority, then many strangers could easily be impressed and assume that it’s one celebrity showing up for another. And yet, it was a real friendship that Revere and former Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne shared, that and mutual love and respect for their home state.
Brigadier General Allan Gayhart, Retired USAR, who was over the 116th Brigade combat team from the Idaho Army National Guard, spoke of Paul’s band as “America’s Band,” frequently embraced as America’s answer to the British invasion of the 1960s. Gen. Gayhart shared from the heart that Paul had a connection to veterans that could never be fully appreciated, as Paul always went the extra step of recognizing all those who served our nation.
This seasoned soldier shared “Paul was an early supporter of the Rolling Thunder event in Washington, DC. He started the Ride to the Wall Foundation, and donated proceeds from several CD sales to this cause. Veterans who attended a concert always received great respect. Paul would take the time to honor and recognize those who served, especially the Vietnam veterans, which meant so much to them.”
Gen. Gayhart recalled that one day he received a call from Gov. Kempthorne, asking him what Idaho could do for their reserve soldiers called up for deployment. Over 4,000 of Idaho’s soldiers were in Alexandria, Louisiana, awaiting deployment to Iraq that would come approximately a week later. The general’s suggestion was quick: Paul Revere. The story about how that happened would come from the speaker to follow.
Gen. Gayhart knew that most of these young service personnel would be men and women in their 20s, who didn’t grow up with the Baby Boomer devotion to and recognition of the music and hijinks of Paul Revere and his merry band of Raiders. He feared, for a millisecond, that the soldiers might be doing eye-rolls at the thought of the music of a lost generation. He recalled that he shouldn’t have worried.
Memories the general shared included his genuinely being moved as he saw the troops “amazed and truly entertained by the music and humor of the band.” They were dancing in the aisles and clapping hands, tapping feet, keeping rhythm flowing. “Our soldiers are now 4,000 of The Raiders’ greatest fans,” as they recall who was there for them as they were a “long way from home, surrounded by concern and apprehension of what was in store for their future. “They went into combat knowing there were those who loved and supported them,” as the general spoke through his own tears at the recollection. “Paul Revere was remembered as a truly great American and patriot.”
Next to speak was Brig. Gen. Bill Shawver, Retired USAF, who shared his personal memories of that same fall in 2004 when Paul, Sydney, and the Raiders came to focus their attention on the needs of the service personnel that day. Gen. Shawver was also aware of Paul’s devotion to the important Ride to the Wall Foundation for Vietnam vets. “The energy Paul displayed on stage would only be surpassed by what he did that week in Alexandria,” said Gen. Shawver.
Gen. Shawver was the logistician for the occasion of Operation Thanksgiving, as he shared personal recollections of the event. Joke by joke, song by song, there was complete immersion by the audience in what Paul and the band were doing. At the conclusion of the concert, Paul stayed to take photos with everyone who wanted to, and he even talked on the soldiers’ cell phones to their parents, the loved ones of those departing for combat, because they knew their parents would appreciate that so much. Paul was not fatigued; rather he was energized and matched these “youngsters” beat for beat.
Choking back the tears welling up, Gen. Shawver recounted how one young man had handed a set of dog tags to Paul, as he shared, “These belonged to my dad and I want to give them to you for being here with us.” Paul put those tags in his pocket and promised to take care of them, wishing the young man safety and a quick return. One man’s heart, one man’s soul, one man’s spirit reached across the divide of generations and made a permanent impression in the hearts of valiant warriors and new soldiers alike that occasion. That was who Paul Revere was, a man whose greatest deeds and works remained essentially buried in privacy until governors and generals paraded forth to share their memories with all who only thought they knew Paul well.
Paul and Sydney could have easily taken leave of the group at any point that day, but Gen. Shawver said, “They stayed with Gov. Kempthorne, standing for six hours, in conversation, serving meals in the true spirit of that Operation Thanksgiving weekend. The entire event came about as the result of a single phone call, placed by Kempthorne to Revere, who located him on his cell phone.
As the former Idaho governor, Dirk Kempthorne, took his turn at eulogizing Paul, he described with pride the initial phone call that started Operation Thanksgiving in the first place. The call went something like this:
Phone rings. Paul answers. “Hi, Gov. What’s up?” “I’m just taking a shot here, but is there any way you and the Raiders could come to Alexandria for the deployment of the 116th?” “Cool, absolutely, when is it? Wow. I’ll get right back to you.” Two hours later the governor related was walking across the parking lot at Boise State University as his phone rang. Paul was calling. “Gov, we’re all in. We’re all in.”
The deployment process took actually a full six days to accomplish, moving 4,300 troops is something the military trains regularly to do, but Paul Revere served his country as a civilian those same six days. Gov. Kempthorne said of Paul, “He would go through all the tents, sit on the bunks and talk to these soldiers, one on one. He went to chapel with us. This man invested every amount of the fiber of his spirit into the citizens who were wearing the uniform in a call to duty.” “When the last of the 116th brigade was deployed, there was a battalion still in Alexandria not attached to the 116th. They were there from the eastern United States, and there was no one there from their state to wish them Godspeed,” Kempthorne noted. “They were to deploy 24 hours later, and I’d already told the team to go home as we’d completed our mission. But Paul stayed that extra day, to be with those who had no one there, making sure at least he would be there.” From the podium, he spoke personally to Sydney, Paul’s daughter Jody, and his son Jamie: “That’s the man he was.”
As Gov. Kempthorne noted the presence of current Idaho governor Butch Otter at the funeral as well, you have to pause for a big moment and think about the dignity with which the state of Idaho viewed Paul, the regard in which he was held throughout his lifetime, and the way he could easily shape a state’s heritage by recognizing and respecting the soldiers from that state, in just that one show, but that was not the only time. There were several decades of work Paul did with the Ride to the Wall Foundation as well.
One by one, Paul’s life and times as a musician were noted by Keith Allison, Roger Hart, Larry Leasure and Phil Volk. Each shared musical stories of the touring band, of the height of the career. Each story was told with love; favorite Bible verses were shared, and memories filled the sanctuary.
Phil Volk said, “Next to my Mom and Elvis Presley, Paul Revere was my next biggest musical influence. He taught me how to write.” Fang was funny as he shared one special memory about how Paul was fearless. It was when the Raiders had flown down to the Dominican Republic on a C-130 cargo ship. There was a performance at one army base, where no one in the band felt like they were connecting with the audience. “A big, tall Green Beret came marching up to Paul, and sort of smiled as he stared at him. We were all sort of worried. We shouldn’t have. Paul grabbed a mike, walked the man up to the middle of the stage and said, ‘You know what your problem is? You have the wrong kind of hat.’ And with that, he took the Green Beret’s beret and put his own three-cornered hat on the soldier. Paul finished the show wearing the beret. We were so glad the soldier let Paul live that night.”
Then there was Paul, the everyman, comfortable around everyone. As the invited guest of Robert Redford, for the world premiere of the movie “Jeremiah Johnson,” Revere and Redford hung out together the whole night, two men who are iconic to those who don’t know them, and to those who do as well.
Volk brought the crowd to near tears of laughter as he described a St. Louis stopover during a 1960s concert tour sponsored by Columbia Records, promoting their latest album at the time. They’d arrived at the corporate promotion of Paul Revere riding a horse up the steps of the Plaza Hotel in St. Louis. Not only did Paul ride up the steps, he managed to stay in the saddle to get the horse through the front doors and right into the lobby and paused at the front desk to register. It all unfolded so fast, and then the fine steed decided to drain his bladder over the $50,000 Persian carpet. Fang remembered they sent Columbia the bill for the carpet cleaning. Those were the days of grandiose, outlandish “what’s next around the corner” minute-by-minute Raider-style fun.
Keith Allison brought the words of comfort from Keri Clark, widow of Dick Clark, on behalf of the family, and shared that with rare exception, Dick Clark did not really fraternize with the artists he hired and showcased on television programs. Paul Revere was the one exception, and they were good friends. Again, Paul was singled out as the one for whom people made extra time.”
Allison also shared memories sent to him from Freddy Weller to share that day. Weller described Paul as honest, a man of integrity and one who knew how to treat his fellow man, a true hero. Allison also brought the somber group to laughter as he shared stories of living in Boise, times with the band on the road and then another poignant moment about Sydney, the love of Paul’s life.
Keith related that one day out of the blue, Revere called him and said, “You have to come to Atlantic City! Syd’s starring in ‘Some Like it Hot!’ So Keith goes and Paul said, “I have to take some pictures of these great display boards because Syd’s on them!” So he did. And then they loaded into a rental car, and Keith drove as they went up and down the highway so Paul could take a photo of all of the Harrah’s billboards advertising the production. There were many! There was even one Harrah’s billboard high atop traffic in an isolated location on a deserted road. Paul said, “I have to get a shot of that!” So he climbed on top of the billboard (both men were in their 50s at the time, but remember, Paul was fearless!) and then Keith said, “I had to climb on top of the car to get that shot!” The mourners could not help but fall into laughter as they could imagine Paul’s love for Sydney as high as the highest billboard in New Jersey! Allison’s parting words were a perfect introduction for the photo montage: “Some people dream, some people live. We got to live our dreams. Sleep well my friend.”
Bill Medley followed and said, “Paul Revere was a soulmate, we worked together every chance we got.” That friendship and musical alliance took them from Las Vegas to Branson, and places in between. Medley also spoke of their last phone conversation together. Bill knew Paul had called to say goodbye. “He asked me to keep an eye on Syd and take care of her,” and I said, “Of course, we will all be there for Syd and care for her.”
Medley then moved to play piano while his daughter McKenna sang the words to a favorite hymn, “Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me home.” To close the service, Rev. Anders shared his reflection on the service that had just taken place in the Revere family church, and how he had introduced his own children to the music of the man whose memory was being honored that day. Those watching live stream, thanks to the consideration of Paul’s family, felt that they too had been a part of his tribute and memorial. But that’s not where the story ends.
When Paul was in his final days battling cancer, he rebranded the band as Paul Revere’s Raiders, because he wanted the music everyone loved to live on beyond his life. He asked each of his band members to keep it going, for his sake, and together they have. Their first concert of 2015 came in Las Vegas, in two nights at the South Point Casino.
On Saturday, Jan. 4, two friends came on stage, Las Vegas resident and The Buckinghams’ Nick Fortuna and Phil ‘Fang’ Volk. Together the band and Fang performed “Kicks,” complete with the trademark Raider dance moves. On Tuesday following the Vegas weekend, a Raiders fan sent Sirius-XM’s 60s on 6 morning man, Phlash Phelps, a picture of Nick, Darren Dowler, and Fang, and Phlash talked about the excitement of the weekend.
“For Fang, it was like riding the proverbial bike again—you just don’t forget.” Phlash shared communications he had with Raiders’ drummer Tom Scheckel: “Fang brought down the house, and both he and Nick were great to come up and join us for the encore as well, and in large part secured a standing ovation for us.” Phlash added his own thoughts how wonderful it was that the brilliant history of musicians who were part of the Raiders’ band at one time, and the colleagues who’d performed together in so many venues over the past 35 years together as The Buckinghams and The Raiders, have been doing the past months. On Sunday evening, on stage with the Raiders, singer Bill Medley told a couple of great “inside” stories, and sang “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.”
Scheckel said that several band members had been contacted by so many celebrities who had lifetime friendships with Paul, each offering to do anything they could to share music and memories, should they ever be needed. Phlash also noted the magnanimous gesture of musician and band leader Paul Shaffer, who’d offered to come out to the first show the Raiders performed following Revere’s passing on Nov. 11, 2014. With Paul’s schedule on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and the concert date, the logistics didn’t work out to have that happen, but the offer was like gold, prized by each of Paul Revere’s Raiders.
If fans are thinking about Paul, particularly as the Where the Action Cruise is about to sail this coming weekend, visit the website for the Ride to the Wall Foundation; the board president is Larry Leasure, and Sydney Revere remains on the Foundation’s Board of Directors. Funds are dispersed to several approved veteran’s outreach programs.
Paul Revere would have been 77 years old on Jan. 7. His 76 years of life here were much like the Spirit of ’76, with patriotism, love of his fellow man, appreciation for great music and his ability to entertain and share his gifts–fairly, generously and consistently–the legacy he leaves behind. Paul Revere left all of his fans a special gift—his band, Paul Revere’s Raiders.
For every time they play, for every Raiders song, from all the early years and with some of the lesser known but beloved hits that they perform, they’re doing it for Paul with enthusiasm. The music lives on because the Raiders keep rocking. Darren Dowler, Ron Foos, Doug Heath, Danny Krause, Jamie Revere, and Tommy Scheckel are there to preserve the spirit Paul left here.
Together, they are band who continues to be, as one radio DJ aptly tagged them, “the keepers of the flame.”
[Editor's note: The band is still very active in performing, keeping Paul's spirit alive and the band's music going strong. You can catch their tour dates on their website: http://paulreveresraiders.com/tour/]