Lindsay was born in Eugene, Oregon and grew up in Idaho. He began performing at the age of fifteen with local bands that played locally and was invited to sing with Freddy Chapman and the Idaho Playboys after he won a local talent contest.
After Chapman moved away, Lindsay saw the other band members and a new member, Paul Revere, playing at a local hall. He persuaded them to let him to sing a few songs. The next day he was working at his regular job at a bakery when Paul Revere came in to buy supplies for a hamburger restaurant that he owned. This meeting "over pastries" began their professional relationship.
Lindsay became lead singer and saxophone player in a band with Revere and several others. He suggested they call themselves "The Downbeats" after a magazine with the same title.
They made some demo tapes in 1960 in Boise, Idaho, and signed with a record company called Gardena Records. The group scored their first national hit with the piano/sax instrumental "Like, Long Hair" which peaked at #38 in the Billboard charts on April 17, 1961.
After changing personnel a few more times, the band recorded the song "Louie, Louie" about the same time that a rival Northwestern band, The Kingsmen, recorded the song. The Kingsmen version was the one that charted nationally, but Mark and the band were also gaining notice.
Around the time "Louie, Louie" was recorded, they decided to use Paul Revere's name as a gimmick and bill themselves as Paul Revere & the Raiders. They began to dress in Revolutionary War-style outfits. Lindsay carried the theme a bit further by growing his hair out and pulling it back into a ponytail, which has become his signature look.
Lindsay and the group caught the attention of Dick Clark, who was developing Where the Action Is, an afternoon show for the teen market. Clark hired the group as regular performers, and the group soon became very successful. Lindsay's good looks and singing voice, quickly gained him immense popularity, and he became one an American teen idol in the 1960s. Lindsay soon started working not only as the singer of the group, but also as a composer and producer.
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