On Louie Louie (1963), this Portland, Oregon, garage band was terribly recorded, could barely keep the beat and got lost mid-way through the song – and singer Jack Ely sounded like he had a mouth full of marbles – but it didn’t matter. Any band with that riff on its side would win anyway!
It started out as a B-side to a record made by Richard Berry and The Pharaohs in 1957.
The easy chords and primitive rhythm made it the perfect song for start-up groups to learn, and it was recorded by over 300 different artists, many in the American Northwest, which in the 60s was a bastion of garage bands.
The ferociously exciting version cut by The Kingsmen peaked at #2 on the US singles charts in January 1964.
The following month, Indiana governor Matthew Welsh was one of many politicians who asked for the single to be banned by local radio stations because of speculation that the (mostly unintelligible) lyrics were obscene.
The song’s publisher offered $1,000 to anyone who could prove it . . .
Jack Ely served in the US army from 1966 to 1968 and then became dependent on alcohol and drugs. He eventually turned to gospel music and became a livestock farmer. He died in Terrebonne, Oregon, on 27 April 2015 at the age of 71.
Vocals, guitar, drums
Don Dick Peterson