The History and Mythology of the World's Most Famous Rock 'n Roll Song; Including the Full Details of Its Torture and Persecution at the Hands of the Kingsmen, J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, and a Cast of Millions; and Introducing for the First Time Anywhere, the
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: University of Michigan Press
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1. "Let's Give It to 'Em, Right Now!"
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Let's get straight to the point. You've journeyed here in hopes of an answer to a single, simple question- the basic question from which flows the whole sordid story. To wit: What are the real lyrics, anyway...
2. A Tale of 300 Ditties
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It is the best of songs, it is the worst of songs. A rock'n'roll song, a calypso song, a sea chanty, a filthy, dirty, obscene song, the story of rock'n'roll in a nutshell, the most ridiculous piece of junk in the history of damnation. A stupid song, a brilliant song, an R&B oldie, a punk rock classic, a wine cooler commercial, an urban legend, a sacred text, a song with roots, a glimpse of the...
3. Birth of the "Lou"s
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Richard Berry sat in the cramped, muggy dressing room of the barn-like dance hall. The 1,200 capacity ballroom was packed with local low-riders for the regular Sunday night gig of the Rhythm Rockers, a ten-piece band led by Bobby and Barry Rillera, Filipino-American brothers from Orange County. As the group's featured singer, Richard sat out...
4. "Louie" in Limbo
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By 1959 "Louie Louie" wasn't even a has-been item, it was a dead song, a corpse whistling past its own graveyard, every bit the nonentity Billboard claimed it was, a relic for ten-cent bargain bins and prepacks of a dozen 45s you've never heard of sold for 89 cents just to get rid of 'em. Flip 321 was nothing more...
5. "Louie" Unleashed
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Little Bill Engelhart and his buddy Buck Ormsby had spent the day strolling the fairgrounds in Puyallup, the little farm town where everybody- hipsters and squares, tough guys and geeks, moms and dads, toddlers and teens -went in mid -September for the Puyallup Fair. The summer's-end celebration probably even featured the adolescent Jimi Hendrix walking the dusty midway; Hendrix was a student in...
6. Spanish Castle Magic
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The Wailers' "Louie Louie" is a full immersion in rock'n'roll possibility. It's as if Rockin' Robin had discovered in some musty backroom at the university library a passage from the gnostic Gospel of Thomas that brought him close to the holy heartbeat of his music: Jesus said...
7. "Louie" Come Home
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The Kingsmen finished their set, which consisted of 45 minutes of Little Richard and Gene Chandler songs interspersed with current hits, guitarist Mike Mitchell doing a couple of Buddy Holly tunes, and drummer Lynn Easton's vocal on the Olympics' "Big Boy Pete" -left their instruments...
8. Every Termite a King
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With certain kinds of greatness there can be no trifling. The best thing to do is just 'fess up to the facts. So history's judgment on the Kingsmen's "Louie Louie" ought not to be as stuffy and half-hearted as Gillett's but a review that just plain spits out the evidence: "Really stupid, really great. Not really...
9. "Louie" Who?
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Arnie "Woo Woo" Ginsburg met with promotion men from Boston's record distributors a couple of days a week in the afternoon before he began his top-rated evening deejay program on WMEX. Ginsburg, whose voice was so unlikely that he sometimes called himself "Old Aching Adenoids," had been the biggest jock in town since Presley...
10. Combating Merchants of Filth: The Role of "Louie Louie"
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Back in 1963, everybody who knew anything about rock'n'roll knew that the Kingsmen's "Louie Louie" concealed dirty words that could be unveiled only by playing the 45 rpm single at 331f3. (In a later version, they were audible to anybody who really paid attention, a cultic/conspiratorial...
11. The "Louie" Generation
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To the extent that the innocent, teenage American- malt-shop rock'n'roll portrayed on "Ozzie and Harriet" and "Happy Days" ever existed, "Louie Louie" was both its purest product and the engine of its demolition. It was inconceivable that its good-bad- but-not-evil legend could have erupted at any...
12. In Search of the Ultimate "Louie"
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If you ask a lot of termites, the early Seventies was the greatest sinkhole rock'n'roll ever fell into. "Underground rock" splintered the rock scene into a dozen fragments: Europhile art-rockers, laid-back singer! songwriters, head-banging metal-heads, hirsute Southern boogiers, unctuous post-soul crooners, weeny dance...
13. "Louie" Marches On
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Richard Berry had been playing in this dreary lounge since 9 PM, but even at midnight his night's sentence had another six or eight hours to run. Dives like this were the prime venues for Berry's music, now that the old Los Angeles studio R&B scene had died out, its vintage harmonizers replaced by Anglofied rockers and Motown-happy soulsters. After Richard split...
14. The Return of "Louie Louie"
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The Leukemia Society of America dropped "Louie Louie" because it smacked into a miracle: In January 1986 Richard Berry reacquired his song. Henceforth, Richard would receive not only his BMI money, but three-quarters of publishing proceeds from record sales and use of "Louie...
15. "Louie" Reaches Nirvana
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"Louie Louie" remains the best of songs and the worst of songs. It has been a rock'n'roll song, a calypso, a sea chanty, filthy and obscene, and certainly, it tells the story of rock'n'roll all by itself, just as promised. No one, having come this far, can deny that it remains a ridiculous, damnable piece of trash, though, of course, it's equally undeniable that the culture that...
Maximum "Louie Louie": A Discography
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Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2004