Roger Hart was manager of Paul Revere & the Raiders in 1965 when the telephone rang in an opportunity-knocking kind of way.
It was Dick Clark.
“I was in Los Angeles,” Hart said, “when I got the call: ‘Can you come over and talk to us?’”
Clark wanted to talk about “Where the Action Is” — a daily
rock ’n’ roll show he was putting together for ABC.
“The conversation led us into the pilot,” Hart said.
The Vancouver resident was recalling that career turn after Clark died Wednesday morning.
Paul Revere & the Raiders were already big draws regionally after recording “Louie Louie” in 1963.
“We were successful in the Northwest and already had a recording contract with Columbia Records. Dick Clark was well aware of this,” Hart said.
Clark also recognized that the band wasn’t just a stand-and-strum ensemble: “They were rather entertaining: slapstick, to a degree,” Hart said.
So, Clark took the Raiders out of the Pacific Northwest and put them in the Pacific Ocean. And in the snow, and in a lot of other locations not known as rock ’n’ roll venues.
“It was kind of like an outdoor version of ‘American Bandstand,’” Hart said.
The Raiders’ role as house band for “Where the Action Is” involved a lot of lip-syncing, Hart added.
“You’d notice they were playing guitars in the ocean, with no wires … for obvious reasons,” Hart said.
Settings weren’t the only difference between that show and Clark’s breakthrough hit, broadcast from a Philadelphia studio.
“‘American Bandstand’ introduced material that maybe was ahead of the curve,” Hart said.
“Where the Action Is” had a continuing parade of big-name acts.
“Dick Clark had access to artists who would be coming through or who made Los Angeles their home. Sonny and Cher were obvious examples. A young Sonny and Cher,” Hart added. “She was a cute, unassuming gal — not the Hollywood diva she would become.”
Watching that talent was a treat for a guy in the music business.
“They were people we wouldn’t run into” on the road, Hart said. “We always were in different places at different times, unless we happened to be playing at the same concert.”
The biggest benefit to being on the show, of course, was the career boost.
“It led to instant national exposure, nearly instant fame, a major recording career, and invitations to appear on other major television programs,” Hart said. “‘American Bandstand,’ of course, plus Johnny Carson, the Smothers Brothers and Ed Sullivan, among others.”
While the band went on to log more than 750 television appearances, Hart said, “We’d have to thank Dick Clark for putting us on TV initially.”
Paul Revere & the Raiders weren’t the only ones who got a big boost from Dick Clark. (Hart used both names — Dick Clark — every time he mentioned the entertainment legend.)
“In the history of popular music, no one has been as instrumental as Dick Clark, in creating the careers of so many successful artists.”