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Jack Ely, of 'Louie, Louie' Party Song Fame, Dead at 71

April 30, 2015

 

LOS ANGELES - Jack Ely, lead singer of The Kingsmen whose 1963 rock'n'roll hit "Louie, Louie" hit became a party anthem in ensuing years, has died at age 71.

 

"Louie Louie," recorded by Ely and bandmates for just $36, became one of the most influential songs in rock 'n' roll and a central part of the frat-house movie "Animal House," ensuring Ely's place in the rock'n'roll pantheon.

 

Ely died Monday night at his home in Redmond, Oregon, after an illness, his son Sean Ely told KOIN-TV.

 

The Kingsmen had a few hits, such as "Money (That's What I Want)," but it was their version of Richard Berry's "Louie Louie" that made band famous. Despite its raw sound and garbled vocals, the song was recorded in just one take, reaching second place on the pop charts. The song's muddled lyrics also prompted authorities to speculate the song, which was about a sailor coming home to see his girlfriend, contained dirty words.

 

Some stations went so far as to ban the song from the airwaves.

 

Ely's rough vocals are a key part of the song, but his stay with the Kingsmen was short-lived. He left the band at the peak of "Louie Louie's" popularity after he was forced out as its lead singer. Ely performed with other musicians under the Kingsmen name until court action forced put an end to that.

 

Ely eventually retired from the music business to train horses in Oregon.

 The Kingsmen performing "Louie, Louie."

 

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