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June 17, 2024
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YouTube Gold: A Totally Unintelligible 1960’s Classic


The song Louie Louie, or the version the Kingsmen recorded anyway, has become a legendary rock ‘n’ roll classic.



Like a lot of songs of that era (it came out in 1963) it was first recorded by a Black singer, Richard Berry, but ironically, he saw it as a Calypso song partly based on Chuck Berry’s Havana Moon. The reality is that musicians have always and will always listen to each other and they take what is good and incorporate it into their own styles. That said, the record companies have a lot to answer for.

Anyway, the Kingsmen took Berry’s Caribbean-influenced song and just turned it into something that, somehow, has never gone away.

When it came out it caused an uproar at least partly because no one could understand what singer Jack Ely was saying. This was partly because he had to scream to be heard over the instruments and partly because he was wearing braces.

It got people so wound up that the FBI investigated the song for possible obscenity charges.

It’s a weird classic, half-nonsense and half-genius and, as many people have said, it seems to be basically immortal.

Here’s Berry’s earlier version. Bonus: you can understand the lyrics.

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