The Kingsmen: Louie, Louie (We don't know...)

It's time to face head-on one of the most famous and misunderstood songs of all-time, LOUIE, LOUIE. I've talked before how the song had been bouncing around the Northwest for several years, often in different versions. Paul Revere (of the Raiders) told me that he had a hit version of the song locally, but one way or another these guys from Portland covered it and grabbed the national hit; it was a really contentious point and I didn't comment one way or another.

But the thing that took it from being just another garage band song to a controversial national problem was THE KINGSMEN's vocalist Jack Ely's slurring of the lyrics, (which he may have forgotten), to a point where kids could hear all kinds of stuff in there including the F-word. Now today there probably wouldn't be much brouhaha about such a stupid thing, especially because you really couldn't understand what he was saying in the first place, but in the mid-60's, baby it was big news.

Politicians called for the record to be banned, Program Director's agonized about adding it to their playlists until it got shoved down their throats by the competition, and the kids loved it. I always knew during a Record Hop that Slamming Louie, Louie Loud would get them out on the floor. It was an early example of the truism to come, "any kind of publicity could be good publicity."

Of course it was a tempest in a teapot, but the song got the Portland gang on TV, like this clip from Shindig, and kept them touring for a few years although they were never to have another hit record. Btw, Paul Revere had the last laugh, he had a string of hits. Note: the coordinated dancing of the bandsmen in their uniforms, and Jack's natty little hat that identifies him as the star. Rock On! @therealdonrocks

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