FBI vs Louie Louie

FBI vs Louie Louie

FBI vs Louie Louie

A sailor walks into a bar…

When The Kingsmen released “Louie Louie” in May 1963, the tune already had a long recorded history.


FBI vs Louie Louie

FBI vs Louie Louie

Rene Touzet

 


Rene Touzet and his orchestra played  “El Loco Cha Cha” in the early 1950s.


FBI vs Louie Louie

Richard Berry

 


One night singer Richard Berry heard  Touzet’s song and decided to use some riffs from it to write his own song. His lyrics were about a sailor missing his girl and talking to a guy named Louie. He released the song in 1956.


It sold well in the Rhythm & Blues market, but he eventually sold the rights to the song so he could get married.


FBI vs Louie Louie

Rockin’ Robin Roberts


 


Rockin’ Robin Roberts, a musician from the US Pacific Northwest, heard the song and decided to add it to his band’s set list. Because of the song’s popularity, many bands began to perform it. Roberts recorded “Louie Louie” in 1961.


FBI vs Louie Louie

Paul Revere and the Raiders

FBI vs Louie Louie


Paul Revere and the Raiders also released the song in 1963. Their version was a hit on the west coast, but…


FBI vs Louie Louie

The Kingsmen

FBI vs Louie Louie


…the Kingsmen’s recording, initially released on the small jerden label, was hit in the Seattle area which led to a release on the somewhat larger wand label.


FBI vs Louie Louie


The song spent 16 weeks [December 1963 – February 1964] on the Billboard Hot 100.


Blue R & B


Society sometimes condemns rock and roll for its sexual innuendos, but double-meaning lyrics were an old story. “Anybody Here Want To Try My Cabbage?”  by Maggie Jones (1924)…



FBI vs Louie Louie

Get ‘em from the Peanut Man” by Lil Johnson (1935)…



…and others like “Good Rockin’ Tonight” by Wynonie Harris (1947), and “Smooth Slow and Easy” by the Drivers (1956) are just four of the dozens of songs that weren’t for polite company during that era.


FBI vs Louie Louie

FBI vs Louie Louie


Some adults thought a song’s lyrics obscene simply because someone said so. Such was the case with “Louie Louie.”  On February 10, 1964 the FBI “received complaint from…Sarasota High School, advising that captioned record is very popular with the high school students, and he has been furnished lyrics for the song, which are very obscene.”  And thus was launched the FBI’s inquiry “Louie Louie.


In May 1965 the FBI concluded with a 119-page inquiry, which had the basic conclusion: “…there are unintelligible words or sounds in their [the Kingsmen] vocal where those who want to apparently find the obscenity [my emphasis], but these were honest vocal effect without thought of intended obscenity and that neither he nor the others in the group can hear the suggested obscenity….


According to Wikipedia, “By some accounts “Louie Louie” is the world’s most recorded rock song with over 1,600 versions.” So much for obscene lyrics.


FBI vs Louie Louie
…and the sailor says to the bartender, Louie…
[Chorus]

Louie Louie, oh no

Sayin’ we gotta go, yeah yeah, yeah yeah

Said Louie Louie, oh baby

Said we gotta go

A fine little girl, she waits for me

Catch a ship across the sea

Sail that ship about, all alone

Never know if I make it home

[Chorus]

Three nights and days I sail the sea

Think of girl, all constantly

On that ship I dream she’s there

I smell the rose in her hair

[Chorus]

Okay, let’s give it to ’em, right now!

See, see Jamaica, the moon above

It won’t be long, me see me love

Take her in my arms again

I’ll tell her I’ll never leave again

[Chorus]

I said we gotta go now

Let’s take this on outta here

Let’s go!


FBI vs Louie Louie

So here’s THE version by the Kingsmen and some other versions plus a Bruce cover!


Louie Louie by Paul Revere and the Raiders

Louie Louie by The Kingsmen

Louie Louie by  Bruce Springsteen:

FBI vs Louie Louie

NPR report


New Yorker article


FBI vs Louie Louie
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2 thoughts on “FBI vs Louie Louie”

  1. From Cliff Merganz via Facebook: There is a popular myth in Washington state that the state song is actually Louie, Louie by the Fabulous Wailers. There was indeed a failed effort to change the state song to “Louie, Louie” in the 1980s, spearheaded by KING-TV comedy-show Almost Live! host Ross Shafer. However, then-governor Booth Gardner proclaimed one day in that timeframe to be the state’s official “Louie, Louie Day”.

  2. How to Celebrate Louie Louie Day

    A Brief History of Louie Louie

    International
    Louie Louie Day
    April 11

    Louie Louie Day is now officially registered with the National Special Events Registry and Chase’s Calendar of Events, the two leading sources of special events, holidays and observances.

    April 11 provides an annual opportunity to celebrate the song that has been called best party song of all time, has been recorded more times than any other rock song in history, and was very nearly declared the official state song of Washington State.

    Why April 11? Primarily because it’s the birthday of Richard Berry, the man who composed Louie Louie. But, in addition, many other important milestones in the history of Louie Louie occurred on or around April 11. Here is a partial list of such events:

    April 11, 1935 — Richard Berry was born in Extension, Louisiana.

    April 1957 — The first recorded version of Louie Louie, by Richard Berry and the Pharaohs, is released on Flip records (as a b-side to “You Are My Sunshine”).

    April 6, 1963 — At Northwestern Recorders, in Portland, Oregon, the Kingsmen record what is to become the most famous version of Louie Louie. About a week later, Paul Revere and the Raiders record their own version of Louie Louie in the same studio.

    April 12, 1985 — “Louie Louie Day” in Washington state as declared by the Washington State Senate. This was as far as the legislature was willing to go along with a somewhat tongue-in-cheek campaign to make Louie Louie the official state song of Washington. On that day, a rally and performance were held at the State Capitol in Olympia, which featured a number of performers including the Kingsmen, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and Thurston County Commissioner George Barner.

    April 14, 1985 — “Louie Louie Day” in Seattle as proclaimed by the mayor of Seattle (proclamation issued on April 10, 1985). On this day, a Louie Louie event was held at Seattle Center, which included a performance by Jr. Cadillac. These two events in mid-April 1985 marked the height of the effort to make Louie Louie the official state song of Washington.

    April 2, 1986 – “Louie Louie Day” proclaimed by the state of Oregon.

    April 10, 1998 — The Kingsmen won a historic legal case against Gusto Records and GML in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. At the heart of their case was the undisputed fact that Gusto Records/GML, which acquired the rights to the original Kingsmen masters from Wand/Scepter Records, including the most well known recording of Louie Louie, never paid a penny in royalties from record or CD sales, despite a 1968 contract that guaranteed a 9% royalty to the band members. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case, the members of the Kingsmen were able to collect about $200,000 in royalties that had been held in trust since the group sued in 1993 on grounds that the companies had failed to honor a 1968 contract. By winning this case, the Kingsmen gained complete ownership of all 105 recordings originally recorded for Wand/Scepter Records.

    April 11, 2003 — A group Louie Louie fans discussing Richard Berry’s birthday on the Yahoo Louie Louie Party decide that April 11 should be designated “Louie Louie Day” as an annual recognition of this great song.

    April 11, 2007 — A (only slightly) more organized effort to promote Louie Louie Day occurs, under the auspices of the newly formed Louie Louie Advocacy and Music Appreciation Society (LLAMAS). Click here to view the 2007 LLAMAS press releases.

    April 11, 2008 — The conclusion of the first ever Louie Louie video contest. Go to the louietopia.com site to enter before April 11.

    So on April 11, make sure to listen to your favorite version(s) of Louie Louie, call your local radio stations to request that they play it, and spread the word about the song and and its important place in rock history.

    For more information about Louie Louie, please visit the following sites:
    Louie Louie Advocacy and Music Appreciation Society (LLAMAS)
    LouieLouie.net
    The Louie Louie Pages
    Louie Louie Web
    LouieFest

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