Friday, June 5, 2015

Pacific Northewest Spotlight: The Kingsmen - Louie Louie/The Haunted Castle

Day six of our Pacific Northwest Battle of the Garage Bands finds us still kicking it around Portland, Oregon.

I could make a very strong argument that The Kingsmen's Louie Louie was both the most important and influential recording in rock history.

It was in 1963, Portland, Oregon, that the The Kingsmen paid $36 to record this number at a small radio studio with only two mics: One for the drums, one for the rest of the band, including the vocalist. The band banged it out and released it on the Seattle based Jerden Records in the Summer of 1963. From there Wand Records picked it up and released it nationally in October of that year.

The record spread like a wild fire and even launched a Justice Department investigation to determine if the lyrics were obscene (the answer was, "we can't tell") and was banned by one midwestern Governor who thought his state's impressionable teens should not undulate to the suggestive beat.

But the record persevered. This rag-tag stutter rhythm recording would soon be replicated by every garage and frat rock band in America. And when Pye Records released it in the UK in December of 1963, the Brit bands would be jumping on board as well. Bands like The Kinks, The Who, The Eyes and The Troggs would soon be pounding out their own interpretations of this rhythm and selling it back to the Americans who started it.

At the time of recording, the Kingsmen were comprised of Jack Ely on vocals, Lynn Easton on Drums, Mike Mitchell on guitar, Bob Nordby on bass and Don Gallucci on keyboards. Two notable moments to listen for in this recording. At :54, Lynn Easton yells "fuck!" (how the Justice Department missed this is beyond me) after breaking a drum stick. At 1:58, Jack Ely jumps in early and starts the next line before aborting and starting again.

Jack Ely would be forced from the band by Lynn Easton who wanted center stage. His mom trademarked the name and the Easton family began cleaning house.  That's the drummer, Easton, in the 1000 lip-synched versions you've seen on YouTube. Don Gallucci would be the next casualty with him being forced from the band as he was too young to tour.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!


  1. Just think about it, when this song was recorded, nobody in the US had ever heard of the Beatles. This was THEEEEEEE start of modern rock-n-roll.