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True StoryWhy The FBI Investigated Louie Louie from The Kingsmen

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If you know one song by The Kingsmen it's probably 'Louie Louie'. It became a hit when it was released in the 1960s and is still popular over 50 years later. But did you know the FBI investigated this song for months?

The Kingsmen

The Kingsmen1

The Kingsmen are a so-called beat garage rock band from Portland, USA. They started playing together in 1959, mostly in hotels and clubs. Singer Jack Ely and drummer Lynn Easton have been friends since they were kids. Soon, Mike Mitchell and Bob Nordby joined them and The Kingsmen were born. 

Louie Louie

'Louie Louie' is written by Richard Berry and was originally a rhythm and blues song. Many bands had covered the song before The Kingsmen did and many would follow. So why did the band choose this song? When The Kingsmen were playing a gig at the Pypo Club in Seaside (Oregon, USA), they noticed Rockin' Robin Roberts's version of 'Louie Louie'. The whole club immediately started to dance. Singer Jack Ely convinced the other band members to rehearse the song. Because he had only heard the song that night in the club, he changed the beat unknowingly. This is one of the reasons why this version has such a catchy sound.

FBI Investigation

If you listen to the lyrics of the song, you have no idea what you're listening to. Even if you listen very closely, Jack Ely seems to be mumbling some indecipherable words. The song became very popular among young people. The FBI received several letters from worried parents, they were afraid the lyrics of the song might be obscene. The FBI decided to open an investigation to figure out if the recording contained obscene variations on the published lyrics. The investigation involved several agents and even the governor of Indiana tried to meddle with the case.

The songwriter, Richard Berry, was interrogated. Weirdly, the FBI never contacted Jack Ely, probably the only person who knows the truth. The FBI classified this case without any consequences. Jack Ely passed away 2 years ago, so I'll guess we'll never know the truth...

If you're interested, you can read the FBI records on this case here!


True Story

In ‘True Story’ we present you with an interesting music fact. Fascinating details about an artist, a song or a whole genre: it can be anything. We provide you with a story you can tell your mates or even your co-workers by the coffee machine. Stuff to talk about!