We probably should have done this week 1 of this series, but it's time to honor the song that more than any other started the garage rock movement - "Louie Louie".
Recorded by more than 1000 different bands, the subject of an FBI investigation over its lyrical content, lawsuits over royalties, rival versions by bands from the same town on the charts on the same time, controversies galore - "Louie Louie" is full of legend and lore. It's more like a force of nature than merely a song.
But we honor songs here at WYMA not long stories, so forget the Rice University Marching Band version and Black Flag's cover, and even the Wailers 1961 version that formed the template for the garage rock arrangement of what started in 1955 as a Jamaican folk song about a sailor coming home to see his girl. (Those Wailers being the seminal garage rock band from Seattle, a/k/a The Fabulous Wailers, not to be confused with the Wailers from Jamaica fronted by Bob Marley; phew).
The Kingsmen, an unknown garage band from Portland Oregon, released this single in 1963 and rock'n'roll was never the same:
One interesting tidbit: The best moment of the song, the shout of "Okay, let's give it to 'em right now!" as intro to the crazy guitar solo, was lifted by The Kingsmen from the Wailers version, so it wasn't quite as spontaneous as it sounds.
Curious about how all this "Louie Louie" madness came to be? The Wikipedia write up is a fun read.
As a special bonus, here's a video with the three earlier versions - the Richard Perry original, the Wailers garage rock redo, and one from Little Bill and the Blue Notes:
Friday morning update:
I posted this last night, only to wake up today, go outside to get the local paper from my mailbox and be greeted with this headline article: "Louie, Louie, We Gotta Be Art Now", about how the artwork in the new federal building here in Portland will be based on the chords and sound of "Louie Louie". Awesome and too funny.