The Ironic “Louie Louie”

The version of “Louie Louie” recorded by Portland band the Kingsmen reached number 2 on the pop music charts in 1963. Parents were outraged by the song’s supposedly obscene lyrics. Teenagers reveled in what they thought was a dirty song being played on the radio. The Federal Bureau of Investigation even delved into it, analyzing whether “Louie Louie” was smutty. The band was close-lipped but enjoyed the controversy that drove record sales higher.

The Kingsmen had paid $50 to rent the studio. They recorded the song in one take, gathered around a single microphone. The singer Jack Ely stood on his toes shouting at the boom mic, place too high.

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