20 Takes Of "Louie Louie," Motorhead To The Fat Boys

Categories: Miles-tones

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Today is the 48th anniversary of Portland, Ore., garage-rock group the Kingsmen recording their version of Richard Berry's "Louie Louie." The Kingsmen's version would end up being the most enduring and controversial take of the song, unleashing the U.S. government on the group and the song for its supposed masked profanity and depraved lyrical content.

Aside from being one of the first rock songs to get under the skin of scared parents, "Louie Louie" is one of the most influential garage songs in the genre, and would help form what rock would sound like for decades to come. Even today you can feel the mist of the Kingsmen on modern bands like the Black Lips and Best Coast, and even locals like The Cutters and Funboys.

As one of the monoliths of rock and roll, "Louie Louie" gets covered a lot, either reverently or otherwise. Black Flag covered it mainly because it was primal at its core, and also represented the old guard of rock that hardcore and punk were railing against, even as they shared equal qualities a decade or two removed.

In 1994, a compilation entitled The Louie Louie Collection was released with bands from the Northwest recording versions of the area's first true locally spawned hit.

You can find versions of the song from Led Zeppelin, the Grateful Dead, The Kinks, The Clash, and the Doors online from various outlets, mostly bootlegs. Have fun searching them out. Our fave, though, is Thee Headcoats' take.




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2 comments
Rich HB
Rich HB

Nice story. However, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I was disappointed that a local band was not mentioned that has performed the song for ages: The M.O.B. or Marching Owl Band. They have played the song as an unofficial fight song for years at various Rice University competitions. Their version was also included in a 1990 compilation called "The Best of Louie Louie" which also included the aforementioned classic version by the Kingsmen, a version by composer Richard Berry, and the Black Flag version. Also included were a Latin lounge version by the Sandpipers, and a "Hallelouie Chorus" version by a group called the Impossibles.

Mookie von Zipper
Mookie von Zipper

"louie louie" should be our national anthem... the kingsmen version, of course... seriously...

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