Sad news to report as Jack Ely, singer for The Kingsmen, who were best known for their hit “Louie Louie,” had died. He was 71.
The news was first reported by CBS affiliate KOIN in Portland, Ore., which is also where The Kingsmen first formed in 1959. Ely’s son, Sean, confirmed his father’s death to The Associated Press. A long-term illness was cited as the cause of death, but according to Sean, because of his father’s religious beliefs, even he wasn’t sure what illness he suffered from.
While the band had hits with “Money” and “Little Latin Lupe Lu,” they will be forever tied to “Louie Louie,” a cover of a 1957 Richard Berry song. According to AllMusic, the song was recorded for $50 in a rundown studio that only had three microphones, including a boom mic that was hung ten feet in the air, which Ely used to record his vocals, hence why no one could really understand what he was singing.
Of course, the unintelligible lyrics were quite the mystery, so much so that the FBI infamously launched an investigation to determine what Ely was singing, because they were convinced that the lyrics were pornographic.
Obviously, the FBI couldn’t have been more off the mark.