“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!”

About icefogger

Just a basic, down to Earth, laid back type of guy here, who loves the outdoors, the indoors, jazz on the turntable, a fire in the woodstove, the northern lights blazing across the sky, and the company of good friends. View all posts by icefogger

2 responses to ““Unintelligible at any speed”

  • Larry Janicsek

    Mike, Thanks for posting. Gosh–those old lip sinc videos were bad but, they were all we had. Jack’s recent passing is one of reasons Linda and I go to a fair number of concerts of oldie’s artists. Next up in MKE May 22nd is Booker T. Jones of Booker T. and the M. G.’s fame. A number of years ago we went to see Roy Orbison for the first time and we were blown away. We said we’d never miss him whenever he returned to MKE–six months later he was dead. Very pleased we got to see his live show

    • icefogger

      I picked the grainiest video out there in an attempt to hide the lip-synching. I feel the same way about trying to see aging artists, but sadly, very few make their way to Interior Alaska.

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