In 1955, American musician Richard Berry wrote and composed the rhythm and blues song “Louie Louie,” which was released in 1957. It became a pop and rock standard thanks to the Kingsmen’s 1963 smash rendition. The song is based on bandleader René Touzet’s tune “El Loco Cha Cha,” and it is an example of Afro-Cuban influence on American popular music.
The first-person account of a Jamaican sailor returning to the island to see his girlfriend is told in the simple verse-chorus form in “Louie Louie.”
Organizations and magazines all around the world have acknowledged “Louie Louie’s” “extraordinary historical impact” on rock & roll history. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame, National Public Radio, VH1, Rolling Stone Magazine, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Recording Industry Association of America are just a few of the organizations that have been honored (see the table below for a complete list).
The annual Louie Louie Parade in Philadelphia from 1985 to 1989, the LouieFest in Tacoma from 2003 to 2012, the continued annual Louie Louie Street Party in Peoria, and the abortive attempt in 1985 to make the song the state song of Washington are all examples of the song’s legacy.
About The Song Lyrics Controversy
The Kingsmen’s song “Louie Louie” may not seem like a good fit for the FBI. The song, however, was the subject of a two-year FBI inquiry. The song’s lyrics, which most listeners find either difficult or impossible to grasp, piqued the bureau’s curiosity. Those jumbled words proved to be a major headache for “Louie Louie,” as at least one listener picked up on a couple of things that weren’t exactly appropriate for a young audience.
The FBI’s role includes combating obscenity, and according to the FBI’s case files, someone from Sarasota High School complained about the song’s lyrics being vulgar. “I can’t enclose the lyrics in my letter since they are so disgusting,” the complaint stated. “We all know there is obscene stuff accessible for those who seek it,” it continued, “but these fools have gone too far when they start sneaking it in under the cover of the current teenage rock & roll hit album.” Someone did write down what they thought the song’s lyrics were on Page 14 of the FBI dossier. (They are not suitable for use at work.
Rather than attempting to determine where the many, filthy versions of the lyrics originated, the FBI spent two years examining the tune. They also sped it up and down to check if there was any concealed profane message. And the bureau never contacted Jack Ely, the man who first sung the song’s lyrics. The FBI didn’t exonerate “Louie Louie” at the conclusion of the two years, only stating that “the lyrics of the song on this record were not definitively determined by this Laboratory study, it was not feasible to decide if this recording is obscene.”
Whatever Jack Ely’s intentions were, those legendary, filthy lyrics took on a life of their own, appearing in films like Animal House and Coupe de Ville.
Here are the full song lyrics
me gotta go.
me gotta go.
A fine little girl, she wait for me;
me catch a ship across the sea.
I sailed the ship all alone;
I never think I’ll make it home
Three nights and days we sailed the sea;
me think of girl constantly.
On the ship, I dream she there;
I smell the rose, in her hair.
Me see Jamaica moon above;
It won’t be long me see me love.
Me take her in my arms and then
I tell her I never leave again.