The Kingsmen – Louie Louie

The Kingsmen – Louie Louie

‘Louie Louie’ is a rhythm and blues song written and composed by American musician Richard Berry in 1955, recorded in 1956, and released in 1957. It is best known for the 1963 hit version by the Kingsmen, a rock and roll group from Portland, Oregon, and has become a standard in pop and rock.

The song tells, in simple verse–chorus form, the first-person story of a Jamaican sailor returning to the island to see his lover. The Kingsmen version has been cited as the "rosetta stone" of garage rock and "the original grunge classic". The influential rock critics Dave Marsh and Greil Marcus believe that virtually all punk rock can be traced back to a single proto-punk song, 'Louie Louie'.

On 6 April 1963, the Kingsmen chose "Louie Louie" for their second recording. They recorded the song at Northwestern Inc. Motion Pictures & Recording Studios in Portland, Oregon. The one-hour session cost close to $50, with the band splitting the cost.

Sales of the Kingsmen record were initially so low (reportedly 600) that the group considered disbanding. Things changed when Boston's biggest DJ, Arnie Ginsburg, was given the record by a pitchman. Amused by its slapdash sound, he played it on his program as "The Worst Record of the Week". Despite the slam, listener response was swift and positive.

It entered the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for December 7, and peaked at No. 2 the following week, a spot which it held for six non-consecutive weeks; it would remain in the top 10 throughout December 1963 and January 1964 before dropping off in early February. In total, the Kingsmen's version spent 16 weeks on the Hot 100, selling a million copies by April 1964.

Another factor in the success of the record may have been the rumor that the lyrics were intentionally slurred by the Kingsmen—to cover up lyrics that were allegedly laced with profanity, graphically depicting sex between the sailor and his lady. The song was banned on many radio stations and in many places in the United States, including Indiana, where a ban was requested by Governor Matthew Welsh. The FBI started a 31-month investigation into the matter and concluded they were "unable to interpret any of the wording in the record." However, drummer Lynn Easton later admitted that he yelled "Fuck" after fumbling a drum fill at 0:54 on the record.

Kingsmen Report

‘Louie Louie’ has been regularly cited as the world's most recorded rock song, with published estimates ranging from over 1,600 to more than 2,000[ "with ever more still being released and performed.

The Kingsmen

Label – Jerden
Songwriter – Richard Berry
Producer – Ken Chase, Jerry Dennon


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[Intro chords]
Louie Louie, oh no, you take me where ya gotta go
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, baby
Louie Louie, oh baby, take me where ya gotta go
A fine little girl, she waits for me
Me catch the ship across the sea
Me sailed that ship all alone
Me never think I'll make it home
Louie Louie, oh no no no, we gotta go
Oh no
Said Louie Louie, oh baby, me gotta go
Three nights and days I sailed the sea
Me think of girl constantly
On that ship, I dream she there
I smell the rose in her hair
Louie Louie, oh no, me gotta go
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, baby
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 and then
I tell her I'll never leave again
Louie Louie, oh no, we gotta go
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, baby
Louie Louie, oh baby, said we gotta go
I said we gotta go now
Let's hustle on out of here
Let's go
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