Raiders keep Paul Revere’s musical legacy alive
October 4, 2014, was a sad day for Paul Revere’s Raiders bassist Ron Foos. That was the day his friend and keyboardist Paul Revere lost his battle with cancer.
Foos, who began playing as Paul Revere & the Raiders’ bassist in 1975, said before the bandleader passed away, he told the band to continue.
“He gave us the blueprint of the show and told us to go out and keep it alive,” Foos said during an interview with The Park Record. “While we do have some new things we’ve been working on, we’re concentrating on keeping the retro vibe alive. So, other than the slight name change, the show is basically the same.”
Paul Revere’s Raiders will play the Egyptian Theatre from Thursday, Aug. 4, to Saturday, Aug. 6. Showtimes are 8 p.m.
“We’re going to have a great time,” Foos said. “We love it when we can play one place more than one night because it gives us a chance to settle in. So, three nights will be a ball there.”
The concerts will feature the choreography, costumes and lighting that the Raiders are known for, according to Foos.
But of course, the music is the core of each performance. The band is known for hits
“Indian Reservation,” “Kicks,” “Him or Me” and “Ups and Downs,” to name a few.
“Paul once said to us that we have to sound better live and in person than we do on the record,” Foos said. “The reason is because we have to interpret the sound through the sound system and by the time it reaches the audience, it needs to sound good. That’s sacred ground and when the boss and my friend asks something like that, we do it and do it happily.”
Although the band has shortened a few of the songs in the past, it has recently added the longer versions into the set lists.
“We felt that it was important to give the audience an honest taste of Paul Revere and the Raiders,” Foos said. “We did it because we are lucky to be part of his legacy.”
Another chapter in Revere’s legacy is his son Jamie, who is part of the ensemble.
“We are also lucky to have him with us on guitar,” Foos said. “He brings the Raider family vibe to us.”
Reflecting on the Revere catalog, Foos said he can’t name a favorite song.
“They all do have a special place in my heart,” he said. “I grew up in the 1960s
listening to the early Raiders, and those songs are part of my DNA. So choosing one song over another is, and this will sound corny, like choosing one of my kids over another.”
That’s why the band sees the importance of keeping the retro vibe alive.
“We know of big groups who will go on tour and play all their new stuff, when people want to hear their older classics,” Foos said. “We have talked about slipping a new song in here and there, but as of now, we aren’t going to do that. We’re sticking to the script and really want to drive home the fact that you’re going to have a fun time.”
Foos discovered the bass after his older brothers decided to form a band.
“One wanted to play the drums and one wanted to play guitar,” he said with a laugh. “The bass was left and they told me to play it or die.”
In all seriousness, Foos has always been attracted to the bass, even though he does also play guitar and keyboards.
“A long time ago, someone told me the bass was a great instrument if I wanted to continue to work as a musician and not just do it for a summer hobby,” he said. “It’s a very interesting instrument, and finding someone to fill the bassist shoes and be the right player for the right band is a challenge.”
Likewise, any good bassist will face certain challenges in any particular band or job.
“There is a balance, because you don’t want to over play or under play and then when it comes to playing with a drummer, you had better be clicking or you should get off the stage,” Foos said. “Ironically, people think because it only has four strings all I have to do is pluck some heavy notes. But it’s a bit more complicated than that.
“Yes, there are some songs that are easy to play technically, but you have to capture the feeling,” he said.
The bass also led Foos to his other creative outlet — customized artisan Rock ‘n’ Roll jewelry.
“That came up five years ago when a friend of mine, who is a cancer survivor, asked what I do with my old bass strings,” Foos said. “I told her I cut them up and throw them in the garbage. And then she asked if I ever thought about making them into bracelets.”
After tossing the idea around, the two came up with making bass-string jewelry.
“I have a deal with DR Strings that make bass and guitar strings in neon colors,” Foos said. “So, when I use my old strings to make my bracelets, they glow in the dark.”
Foos donates a portion of his profits selling his jewelry to the American Cancer Society.
“It’s a personal decision to do this,” he said. “I lost both my mom and dad to cancer and my wife is a cancer survivor. Talk with anybody and you will hear about a plethora of people who have cancer or how it has touched their home.”
In addition, Paul Revere’s Raiders benefit veterans by performing numerous
concerts around the world and raising money through its nonprofit Ride to the Wall Foundation for veterans.
Foos also just finished a CD called “Voices for the Voiceless” that benefits Pet Place International, a nonprofit animal rescue organization. The CD features appearances by Derek Sharp of the Guess Who, the Righteous Brothers’ Bill Medley, former Paul Revere & the Raiders lead singer Jim Valley and “America’s Got Talent” vocalist winner Michael Grimm, to name a few.
Like the CD, Foos’ career has allowed him to perform and work with other musicians such as Randy Bachman, Chuck Negron, Kenny G and the Beach Boys.
“It’s been an unbelievable experience to be in music for as long as I have,” he said with an emotional crack in his voice. “Most of this has come because of being with Paul Revere & the Raiders, and Paul’s endorsement means so much. It’s been great. And it all came from Paul. He’s with us all the time and it’s pretty neat.”
The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., will present Paul Revere’s Raiders from Thursday, Aug. 4, to Saturday, Aug. 6. Showtimes are at 8 p.m. Thursday tickets range from $35 to $55 and Friday and Saturday tickets range from $39 to $65. For more information or tickets, visit http://www.parkcityshows.com.
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