A tip of the hat and a chug of warm, garage band suds to Kingsmen front man Jack Ely, who left us with an unforgettable three-chord banger and loads of unnecessary notoriety over the lyrics he moaned into a misplaced microphone for “Louie Louie,” in 1963.
Ely, of Oregon, walked into a Portland recording studio with his bandmates that day and found himself singing into a dangling mike, the group pounding out a rock and roll classic that proved hard to beat, easy to dance to and easier to cover as countless bands churned out hundreds of tribute covers over the intervening years.
Ely slyly said the band let critics say what they wanted about the song, which was officially investigated for its supposedly lewd lyric – immediately creating a huge following among young people who spent long hours trying to decipher what Ely was singing about. Which wasn’t much.
Louie Louie became a huge hit for The Kingsmen and an almost overnight classic. The band was never able to duplicate its success.
Ely died Tuesday, in Oregon, after a long illness. He was 71