Louie Louie

Album: Louie Louie: The Kingsmen In Person (1963)
Charted: 26 2
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  • The FBI put a lot of work into their investigation of "Louie Louie" - enough to fill up a 180-page report concluding that the song was "unintelligible at any speed." Various letters of complaint are included in the report, including this letter to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who responded to the missive.

Comments: 60

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyMike Mitchell, the original lead guitarist for the Kingsmen, passed away on April 16th, 2021. He was 77 years old...
    He was best known for playing the iconic solo on the 1963 hit song “Louie Louie”*...
    Between 1963 and 1966 the Portland, Oregon quintet had nine records on the Top 100 chart, two made the Top 10, the above "Louie Louie" and "The Jolly Green Giant", it reached #4 for one week in February of 1965...
    They had one Top 20 record, "Money", which peaked at #16 for one week in April of 1964...
    May he R.I.P.
    * "Louie Louie" peaked at #2 for six non-consecutive weeks, its first two weeks at #2, the #1 record was "Dominique" by The Singing Nun, and for its last four weeks, "There!, I've Said It Again" by Bobby Vinton was in the top spot...
  • Odochop from LangleyStooges' version is dirtier
  • George from Vancouver, CanadaSunday schools & church camps sing, "Pharaoh, Pharoah, whoa-oh, let my people go yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah" version.
  • Clay from FloridaRecorded and released in 1963, not 1964. First hit the Billboard Top 50 in November 1963 at #2.
  • Shashi from Stoke, Stoke-on-trentThe lyrics of this song have been misinterpreted enough to warrant an F.B.I. investigation, called upon from a worried parent after his daughter brought home its record. However, the true lyrics are indeed clean, as follows:

    Louie, Louie,
    me gotta go.
    Louie, Louie,
    me gotta go.

    A fine little girl, she wait for me;
    me catch a ship across the sea.
    I sailed the ship all alone;
    I never think I’ll make it home
    Three nights and days we sailed the sea;
    me think of girl constantly.
    On the ship, I dream she there;
    I smell the rose in her hair.
    Me see Jamaica moon above;
    It won’t be long me see me love.
    Me take her in my arms and then
    I tell her I never leave again

    Some explanations were offered as to why so many people are hearing obscenities:

    Jack Ely was singing with braces on his teeth, and additionally he had strained his voice the night before the recording session after participating in a 90-minute jam. The microphone was fixed too high for Ely, which meant that he had to stand on his toes. Originally, 'Louie Louie' was supposed to be recorded as an instrumental, the vocals were put in as a last-minute thought. Finally, The Kingsmen was unaware that this was the final recording, thinking it to be a rehearsal.
  • Coelacanth from UpstateWho in hell makes this up? The lyrics are no dirtier than "havana moon"; not nearly as dirty as 1/2 the songs on Belafonte's "calypso" album...in fact not as dirty as "fever" - in other words NOT LEWD AT ALL! and they're not that hard to discern as the innocent love song lyrics that they are.
    Scott (Chelan) posted the lyrics below. I haven't heard the Kingsmen version in years but remember it clearly enough that Scott's lyrics are exactly as Jack Ely sang it. (Thank you Scott) -nothing about a bone. that's ridiculous on the order of "excuse me while I kiss this guy" or "I bury Paul"!

    people need to get a life. (the FBI especially)
  • Paul Askier from Olympia WaRichard Berry did not write any dirty lyrics for his beloved Calypso styled love song. I think he went to Jefferson High and was produced by Johnny Otis in LA., (think "Hand Jive", "Harlem Nocturn with Big Jay Mc Neeley blowin' the sax.

    Richard Berry also wrote "Have Love Will Travel". This was LA radio in the mid Fifties...."Huntin' with Hunter" (Hunter Hancock, of KGFK and that big Daddy-o "Roscoe Evergreens back on the Scene") and Art LaBoe broadcasting dedications from Scriveners drive- in in Hollywood.

    Johnny Otis also discovered Lou Rawls at John C Fremont High in LA. It was a talent contest, and Lou then recorded his first hit, "There Ain't Nothin' in the world for a boy and a girl 'sept Love, Love, Love." also there were The Jumpin Jacks....Don and Dewey, (I'm Leavin' it all up to You) and the Three Tons of Joy, and "Little Arthur Mc Daniels".

    My band, "The Hustlers" opened for the "Kingsmen" in '63 or '64 when they made "Louie, Louie" a national hit..... anthem of Rock and Roll. My band "the Hustlers" had the regular gig at Skate-orama in Downey CA, when Arlan Sanders, the DJ would introduce the headliners each week. We backed the Righteous Brothers, the Rivingtons, April and Nino Tempo, (a brother and sister act, Nino was Bobby Darin's sax player, Dick and DeDee, The Coasters, the Kingsmen and Terry Stafford, and the Beach Boys which is about as much as I can remember over fifty years ago. We also had a contract with Downey Records and worked with Barry White before I got drafted and he got famous.

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer: http://www.oldiesmusic.com/news.htm
    Jack Ely, founder and guitarist with the Kingsmen and lead singer on their #2 hit, "Louie Louie" (1963), died Monday (April 27th, 2015) at his home in Redmond, Oregon after what as termed a "long illness." He was 71. Born in Portland, Jack started out as a jazz pianist but switched to guitar after seeing Elvis Presley perform on television. While attending Portland State University, he helped form the Kingsmen, who became the house band for a club owned by a local DJ. They went in to a local studio and, for $50, cut a version of "Louie"-- their crowd-pleasing favorite with mystifying lyrics-- in one take. Before the record had peaked though, Jack got into an argument with drummer Lynn Easton over who would front the band. Since Lynn owned the name, Jack quit and formed his own Kingsmen group. The ensuing legal battle ended with Jack receiving vocal credit and $6,000 in royalties but he was forced to change the name of his own group to the Courtmen. His career essentially ended when he was drafted in 1967. He later became a horse trainer...
    May he R.I.P.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 17th 1966, the Sandpipers performed "Louie Louie"* on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Twenty-seven days earlier on November 20th, 1966 it peaked at #30 {for 1 week} on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; the following week it fell to #35 and that was its 7th and last week on the chart...
    It reached #24 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart and #31 in Canada...
    On the same 'Bandstand' show they also performed "Guantanamera"; earlier on 1966 on September 11th it peaked at #9 {for 1 week} on the Top 100...
    They had two other Top 100 records; "Come Saturday Morning" {#17 in 1970} and "Free to Carry On" {#94 in 1970}...
    * On May 8th, 1966 the Kingmen's originally version of "Louie Louie" re-entered the Top 100 at #99; the following week it peaked at #97 and fell off the chart.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 23rd 1965, the Kingsmen performed "Louie, Louie" on the ABC-TV program 'Shindig!'...
    And on the same 'Shindig!' show the group sang 'The Climb'; it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 one month earlier on May 2nd, 1965 for a six week stay, peaking at #65...
    R.I.P. Jimmy O'Neill (Shindig!'s host, 1940 - 2013).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 8th 1963, "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen peaked at #2 (for 6 non-consecutive weeks) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart on November 9th, 1963 and spent 16 weeks on the Top 100...
    The first two weeks it was #2 "Dominique" by the Singing Nun was #1 and then "There, I've Said It Again" by Bobby Vinton kept it out of the top spot for four weeks...
    It re-entered the Top 100 again three years later in 1966 for a two week stay, peaking at #97...
    John Belushi covered it in 1978; his version reached #89 and was on the Top 100 for 4 weeks.
  • Elmer H from Westville, OkMan, what a history this hit song has! In '64 I was a kid & knew that many in school and high school were talking about its dirty lyrics. So, a lotta boys bought it. Haa! It seemed like every kid was listening to a copy and trying to figure out the lyrics. I don't recall exactly when the word went out that the lyrics were not dirty, but it was a gigantic hit. Later, when I went off to college, this song was on most jukeboxes on campus and in off-campus taverns and was a blast to dance to ---dirty lyrics or not! Rock on!
  • Duke from Fresno, CaRobin Roberts developed an interest in rhythm and blues records as a high school student in Tacoma, Washington. Among the songs he began performing as an occasional guest singer with a local band, the Bluenotes, in 1958 were "Louie Louie", which he had heard on Berry's original single, and Bobby Day's "Rockin' Robin", which gave him his stage name. In 1959, Roberts left the Bluenotes and began singing with another local band, The Wailers (often known as The Fabulous Wailers and no relation to The Wailers headed by Bob Marley years later), who had had a hit record with the instrumental "Tall Cool One". Known for his dynamic onstage performances, Roberts added "Louie Louie" to the band's set and, in 1960, recorded the track with the Wailers as his backing band. The arrangement, devised by Roberts with the band, included Roberts' ad-lib "Let's give it to 'em, RIGHT NOW!!". Released on the band's own label, Etiquette, in early 1961, it became a local hit in the Seattle area, before being reissued and promoted by Imperial Records in Los Angeles. However, it failed to chart. Roberts was killed in an automobile accident in 1967.
  • Mike from Newhall , Ca2 things the only dirty lyrcs in the Kingmans version is the i felt my bona in her hair none of the others that are listed hear just before the guitar solo also in the Raiders version Lindsay has said that down real low during the solo he is saying do she f--k
  • Michael Scott from Punta Gorda, FlWhen I was at San Diego in the seventies I had a roommate that graduated from SDSU. For 4 yrs. I shared a condo with this trumpet player named Tom Eccleson. When I was at Highlands Intermediate School in Pearl City, Hawaii in '70 we had a school dance that played this as #1. Tom kept alot of his Gold records on the wall from when he also played with the Imperials. I have never heard him mention lyrics any different.
  • Wayne from Portland , OrI prefer the Raider's version of the song. One of the first times the song was played was at my high school and the group announced it would be a single. later in Health class we talked about the song and decided it would never be a hit since the melody is repetitious and the lyrics don't make any sense. but some deejay back east loved the song and played it over and over. I don't remember hearing it at all on our local top 40 station.
  • Jessica from Tulsa, OkCan't tell exactly what he says at the end of the song, but it sounds like "get that broad out of here". The lyrics that are currently posted are inaccurate, everyone can see that lol.
  • Brian from Brooklyn, NySteve Van Zandt of the "E Street Band" dedicates an entire episode of his radio program "Little Steven's Underground Garage" to "Louie Louie" - it's one of his best. Also, if you can get your hands on a copy of Dave Marsh's book "Louie Louie," it's definitely worth a read.
  • Galen Nations from Lindsay, CaLouie, Louie a great song by the Kingsmen, but the
    version by Paul Revere & the Raiders is my favorite,
    but both are awesome.

    Galen,Lindsay, CA
  • Patequi from Pasadena, CaLouie, Louie was originally written as a calypso by RnB legend Richard Berry, he based it on a remake of a Cuban cha cha cha that was popular in Los Angeles at that time.. The original song was titled Amarra El Perro(tie down the dog)and was recorded in a flute/violin format orquesta-charanga but the L A based Cuban pianist/bandleader Rene Touzet took it and re-arranged for a big band and came up with the vamp. the hook, the clave beat of dum dum dum, dum dum

    Another example opf the heavy influence of Cuban music, Latin music and Caribbean music on US music forms going back over 150 years
  • Mike from Stevenson Ranch, Caall these clowns saying what the words are are full of it the only dirty lyrics are in the line on that ship i dream she there i felt my bone ah in her hair thats it nothing else nothing about hole of love or anything else now that you know when the song comes on sing those lyrics and it will siund right
  • Cyberpope from Richmond, CanadaFunny: the FBI did a 31-month investigation to determine if the rumuors of R-rated lyrics were true, but concluded it was inconclusive. The dirty version is as follows:
    Louie, Louie,
    grab her way down low.
    Louie, Louie,
    grab her way down low.

    A fine little bitch, she waits for me;
    she gets her kicks on top of me.
    Each night I take her out all alone;
    she ain't the kind I lay at home

    Each night at ten, I lay her again;
    I f--k my girl all kinds of ways.
    And on that chair, I lay her there;
    I felt my boner in her hair.

    If she's got a rag on, I'll move above;
    It won't be long, she'll slip it off.
    I'll take her in my arms again;
    tell her I'd rather lay her again.
  • Matt from Oakdale, NyThere isn't much I can say that hasn't already been said, but I found an error in the descriptions (not the comments)...It says it cost $50 to record, in actuality, the Kingsmen paid for a $36, one hour, saturday recording session and nailed the studio version in the first shot.
  • Roman from Barrie, Onaccording to liner notes on Frank Zappa's album titled 'Strickly Commercial' during a concert at the Albert Hall in 1967 the band's keyboard player climbed up to the the halls' (pipe) organ and played 'Louie Louie' in order to turn the docile audience up a notch - and he did!
  • Scott from Chelan, WaNot the "official" lyrics, but listen to the song and look at this. I think you'll agree it nails it.

    The sex laden versions are just wishful thinking.

    Play and listen:

    Ah, Louie Louie ...Oh, no said, we gotta go
    Yea, yea, yea, yea, yea, yea said
    Louie Louie ...Oh, Baby, said, we gotta go

    A fine little girl ... She wait for me
    Me catch a ship ... Across the sea
    Me sail that ship by ... All alone
    Me never think how I'll make it home

    Ah, Louie Louie ... nah, nah, nah, nah
    Said, we gotta go ... Oh, no said
    Louie Louie ...Oh, Baby, said, we gotta go

    Three nights and days ... I sailed the sea
    Me think of girl ... Oh, constantly
    Ah, on that ship ... I dream she there
    I smell the rose ... Ah, in her hair

    Ah, Louie Louie ...Oh, no said, we gotta go
    Yea, yea, yea, yea, yea said
    Louie Louie ...Oh, Baby, said, we gotta go

    Okay, let's give it to 'em ... Right now!

    Me see ...

    Me see Jamaica ... The moon above
    It won't be long ... Me see me love
    Me take her in my arms again
    I tell her ... I'll never leave again

    Ah, Louie Louie ...Oh, no said, we gotta go
    Yea, yea, yea, yea, yea said
    Louie Louie ...Oh, Baby, said, we gotta go

    I said we gotta go now
    Let's go on outa here y'all
    Let's go!
  • Steve from Columbia Heights, MnIn the movie Animal House it is shown being sung shortly after the start of the Sept 1962 school year. By the end of October 1963 it was #1 on Detroit music charts (see http://www.keener13.com/guides/Default.asp). In real life the song had been kicking round for years explaining how the fictional Delta house boys could have pickep up on it.

    According to snopes.com when the Kingsmen recorded it their lead singer had a cold and did not take care to sing the song lyrics clearly on the first take. There was no second take.
  • Lafite from Ottawa, OnThe original version of this song is pretty innocent, but make no mistake about it, the Kingsmen version is not. For example, the line "stick my finger up the hole of love" is pretty clear. Some of the other lines are pretty nasty, but I guess you could argue they are not clear enough to be definitively stated. If they had been, this song would never have been played on radio.
  • Doug from Detroit, MiThe website www.musicianguide.com says that Wand records reissued Louie Louie in 1965 and 1966. They also list the movies which use Louie Louie on the soundtrack as Quadrophenia, Coupe de Ville, Spaced Invaders, Naked Gun, Past Away, Dave, Jennifer 8, and Mr. Holland's Opus.
  • Dave from Portland , OrI remimber seeing the Kingsmen at the Oklahona City Fairgrounds in 1965. My sister and I were near the stage and one of the band members stepped on her hand and she wouldn't wash it for a month. LOL, I was never sure of the lyrics but who cares as the song was fun to dance to and made it easy to meet girls. Isn't that what the music is all about?????
  • John from Jasper, CanadaThe kingsmen is the SUPERIOR version.There is something about their take that keeps you guessing:dirty or clean.To hear the Raiders version just doesn't do it for me.I cringe when I hear it-horrible.Read somewhere Ely was wearing braces at the time so maybe he had trouble pronouncing his words.Many have covered the song and neither have come close.
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United States"The FBI commissioned a six-month study into the possible harmful effects of Louie Louie. Eleven hundred pages later, J. Edgar Hoover's Finest concluded that they weren't sure if there were any harmful effects to Louie Louie or not because they couldn't understand the words." - Jello Biafra
  • Fred from Laurel, MdStefanie - the reason for the fuss was precisely beCAUSE no one could understand the words. That and the vocal 'attitude' it was delivered with strongly suggested that the words must have been too raunchy to enunciate clearly. So all the powers that be were sure that the band was trying to get away with something foul going out over the airwaves. Plus, being in college then, there were guys who were sure they *KNEW* what the words were, and according to them, they were totally raunchy. As we have since learned, this was just x-rated wishful thinking. *** Sunny (Hong Kong) - If not a trendsetter, it was at least a prime example of a 3-chord song. It was very popular at dances for several years. BTW, 'Get Off of My Cloud' is close to the other examples, but is actually a 4-chord song (I-IIIm-IV-V-IV), or 5-chord if you count the VIIb-V sequence in the last line of the chorus ("Don't hang around, cause two's a crowd, on my cloud, baby").
  • J from Ccr, Orglad all of you are still talking about it after all these years, lol.
    Jack Ely
  • Sunny from , Hong KongShame that the song draws all the attention for the worng reason. Instead of being associated with some obscurely misheard naughty lyrics, it should be lauded as a trend-setter in 3-chord (I-IV-V) pop music. Opened the way for "Twist and shout", "Hang on sloppy", "Get off of my cloud", "Wild thing" and many others to follow.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScIn hindsight, it's pretty laughable what a controversy this song caused. Most people who were listening to this song and didn't know about the controversy, wouldn't think it was pornographic. They would if they were cyruiysm wonder what the lyrics meant. Many people don't think for themselves and are willing to follow what others think.
  • Andy from Toronto, CanadaThe song was also featured in the movie Coupe De Ville, there was a long scene discussing the lyrics and what the song means. In the end it is revealed that the song is a Sea Shanty.
  • Dennis from Anchorage, AkA group of friends and I like to play this at parties in a medley with "Wild Thing," "Twist and Shout" and "La Bamba" because they all have the same chord progression and similar rhtythm. We call it the 3-chord medley.
  • James from Vidalia, GaThe band Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids at the sock hop in the 1973 film American Graffiti sing this and the lyrics are clearly heard.
  • Don from Newmarket, CanadaSome facts: This was featured in Animal House with a vocal by John Belushi. The Kingsmen's version was played over the ending credits in the episode when Homer returns to college. The Kinsmen played the riff differently than earlier versions of the song and unintentionally changed the song's rhythm. The words are not dirty but are difficult to understand. Many sang the songs with different dirty lyrics. Iggy & the Stooges perform a memorable live & dirty version on Metallic K.O.
  • Luna from London, Englandthis plays somewhat of a part in The film Mr Holland's Opus starring Richard Dreyfuss. I highly recomend it. Its one of the best films ever.
  • Howard from St. Louis Park, MnThere have been many cover versions of this song, ranging from the Rice University Marching Band to the original by Richard Berry. One version I remember was by The Sandpipers, who sang mst of the lyrics in Spanish. None of them were obscene.
  • Garry from Anchorage, AkIt has been covered and recorded so many times that a college radio station in Los Altos Hills, Ca., KFJC, once played it for 63 hours without repeating the same recording twice. Though, I'm not sure how anyone would have known if a recording had been repeated.
  • Ann from London, EnglandThe song lyrics are about someone sailing off to the war and having to leave his girlfriends behind, nothing dirty!
  • Iain from Dubbo, AustraliaApparently there was a rumor that the lyrics were really dirty. You can read it on http://www.snopes.com/
  • Alex from New Orleans, LaThis made a rather humorous appearance in a 1988 Sunday strip of Bloom County,where each Presidential candidate had to interpret the lyrics his own way.
  • Nathan from Defiance, OhI still can't find any "subversive" lyrics, why was this song banned?
  • Mary from Medina, Nygary larson,author of "the far side",features a whale singing into a microphone coming from a boat in one of his panels. The whale is singing this song,except larson has intepreted the lyrics differently-the whale is singing "Louie Louie ohh we gotta go now"
  • Matt Storey from Okemos, MiI remember watching VH1 and they said how the lyrics were about a guy at a bar talking to the bartender, 'Louie', about his problems.
  • Aj from Cleveland, GaIt sounds like a white guy falls for a black woman.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI don't see why there was a big fuss over the song if know one could understand it anyway. Besides,the singer sounds like he's drunk when he's singing it. Despite that, I think it's a good song. sometimes song are fun when you can't understand the words. Come to think of it, maybe the singer was tired. It makes sense.
  • Jena from Bonner Springs, KsLead singer Jack Ely was reportedly tired and had only just seen the lyrics to the song (and thus, didn't know them that well) at the time he recorded the song in a garage on a single take. (The whole story can be learned at www.louielouie.net.)
  • R from Seattle, WaDuring the early 1980's Ross Schafer, a Seattle comedian, starred in a local show called "Seattle Live". As a joke, he tried to get the Washington State Legislature to designate "Louie, Louie" as the official state rock 'n roll song.

    The Seattle Mariners play "Louie, Louie" every 7th inning stretch, right after "Take Me Out to the Ballgame". They show live video of fans dancing in the seats on the big screen of the scoreboard.
  • Garry from Anchorage, AkRecently, spring 2005, a parent complained that the band at a middle school in Benton Harbor, Michigan, was going to play the music, not sing the lyrics, to "Louie, Louie." The school principal then prohibited the band from playing the song.
  • Tim from Milestone, CanadaI love to sing this song when i'm drunk, just get a bunch of other drunks together and sing it, it's easy to sing becuase even if they don't know the words it doesn't matter becuase your drunk anyways
  • Ryan from Mobile, Alyeh i guess it is a little like "Smells Like Teen Spirit" ("when i come around" by greenday has same similarity). They are alike in the fact most people need to read lyrics to know what the heck is being said. "Louie, Louie" is a classic.
  • Darryl from La Pine, OrJack Ely lives near me in central Oregon. While working on his heating system, I asked him to write down the words to Louie, Louie. He did. I have it in a plastic protector. He also told me the story of the Kingsmen. And the recording of the song. The Kingsmen recently won the rights to the song after a long court battle.
  • Ted from Loveland, CoWe may never know for sure what The Kingsmen sang, but the lyrics that Richard Berry wrote and sang were:

    Fine little girl she waits for me
    Me catch the ship for cross the sea
    Me sail the ship all alone
    Me never think me make it home

    Louie, Louie, me gotta go
    Louie, Louie, me gotta go

    Three nights and days me sail the sea
    Me think of girl constantly
    On the ship I dream she there
    I smell the rose in her hair

    Louie, Louie, me gotta go
    Louie, Louie, me gotta go

    Me see Jamaica moon above
    It won't be long, me see my love,
    I take her in my arms and then
    Me tell her I never leave again

    Louie, Louie, me gotta go
    Louie, Louie, me gotta go

  • Sam from Cleveland, OhThis song was waaay ahead of its time. The rough lyrics would have fit in the 70's or 90's. Reminds me of Smells Like The Teen Age Spirit by Nirvana.
  • Virginia from Leadville, Coi wouldn't know how to do this myself but could not someone simply contact Richard Berry and ask him what the lyrics are??? does anyone know why this has been a mystery for so long?
  • Bob from Canton, MiI once read the lyrics in a song book on sale at a book store on the Wayne State campus in Detroit, so I know at least one rendition is published. The song was reminiscent of "The Banana Boat Song" by Harry Belefonte in that its theme had to do with an island worker wanting to go back home. Very innocent actually.
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