Daily Archives: 1 May 2015

“Unintelligible at any speed”

A Flashback Friday Edition:

The Kingsmen’s raucous version of “Louie Louie” entered the Billboard Top 40 on November 30, 1963. Originally written by Richard Berry, The Kingsmen recorded their version in a small studio in Portland, Oregon in one take. The cost of the studio recording was $50, and it was produced by Ken Chase, who was looking for a live, bar room sound. Chase had the microphone installed on a boom, and Jack Ely the lead singer was forced to shout the words as he looked directly up at the boom.

Rumor quickly spread, that the record was laced with profanity, and it could be heard clearly at 33 rpm speed. Eventually, due to the hard to understand lyrics, several radio stations refused to play the song, and the Governor of Indiana, Matthew Welsh, banned the song from radio stations state wide. All of which was done over an unsubstantiated rumor. Both the FCC and the FBI investigated the song’s lyrics on the profanity charge. The FBI’s investigation lasted 31 months, at which time the FCC was forced to admit that “We found the record to be unintelligible at any speed…”

“Louie Louie” has gone on to be one of the most covered rock songs in history. Jack Ely died this past week. Ely was 71.

“Okay, let’s give it to ’em right now!”