Dwight Rounds, author of The Year The Music Died, 1964-1972
, writes: "The words to Louie, Louie are almost impossible to understand, and are rumored to be obscene. No question that this added significantly to the sales of the single. There was probably a leak somewhere that the lyrics were obscene; otherwise no one would have realized it. This was the most ingenious marketing scheme ever. The FBI tried to track down Richard Berry, The Kingsmen, and various record company executives. They were never able to determine the actual lyrics used. To this day, the Kingsmen insist they said nothing lewd, despite the obvious mistake at the end of the instrumental, where Jack Ely started to sing the last verse one bar too soon, and can be heard yelling something in the background. Ely also said that he sung far away from the microphone, which caused the fuzzy sound, and that the notoriety was initiated by the record company. The words sound much more like the official version seen below, especially the word "rose" instead of "bone." The lyrics rumor was a sham. The official lyrics are in plain print, and one of the many alternative versions are in ().
Chorus: "Louie, Louie, oh no. Me gotta go. Aye-yi-yi, I said. Louie Louie, oh baby. Me gotta go."
"Fine little girl waits for me. Catch a ship across the sea. Sail that ship about, all alone. Never know if I make it home.
"Three nights and days, I sail the sea." (Every night and day, I play with my thing.) "Think of girl, constantly." (I f--k you girl, oh, all the way.) "Oh that ship, I dream she's there. (On my bed, I'll lay her there.) "I smell the rose in her hair." (I feel my bone, ah, in her hair.)
"See Jamaica, the moon above." (Hey lovemaker, now hold my thing.) "It won't be long, me see my love." (It won't take long, so leave it alone.) "Take her in my arms again." (Hey, senorita, I'm hot as hell.) "Tell her I'll never leave again." (I told her I'd never lay her again.)