A couple of weeks ago, I visited the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, where I saw, among other things, the Otis Redding exhibit.
At this exhibit I saw Otis items I’ve never seen anywhere else – rare family photographs, the original painted marquee for the Whisky-a-Go-Go show, his red jacket worn on the “Live in Europe” album cover, his personal Super8 film camera and the suitcase he carried onboard the airplane for his final flight, among other things.
In the museum there was a lot of media kiosks, showing various video clips of his performances. A great tribute to an unforgettable musician who created some very powerful music during his all-too brief existence.
At this exhibit, details were shared on each of his albums, which of course, acknowledged his debut album “Pain in My Heart,” which was released on January 1, 1964, and peaked at number 20 on the R&B chart and at number 85 on the Billboard Hot 100.
That was the album that featured Otis Redding’s recording of LOUIE LOUIE. It’s interesting to note that his recording came out less than one month after the Kingsmen‘s version of the song entered the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for December 7, and peaked at number two the following week, a spot which it held for six weeks.
Otis was definitely hip to the good stuff! On that album, he also covered “The Dog”, by Rufus Thomas; “Lucille”, by Little Richard; and “Stand by Me”, by Ben E. King. The musicians for this album included Booker T. Jones (keyboards, organ, piano), Isaac Hayes (keyboards, piano), Steve Cropper (guitar, keyboards, piano), Donald Dunn (bass), Al Jackson, Jr. (drums), Johnny Jenkins (guitar), Lewis Steinberg (bass), Wayne Jackson (trumpet), Charles Axton (tenor sax) and Floyd Newman (baritone sax)
I wish I could tell you that the Otis Redding exhibit was still up at the Grammy Museum, but unfortunately, the run ended about a week or so after I saw it.
In the meantime, be sure to check out the official OtisRedding.com webpage, which provides a wealth of material about the man, as well as details about the Otis Redding Foundation, which was created to “empower, enrich, and motivate young people through programs involving music, writing and instrumentation.”
This week’s LOUIE comes from Livorno, Italy, courtesy of my friend Caterina Di Biase at Orme Radio:
After the very 1st LL marathon here in a web radio called #OrmeRadio (only 24 hours ~ April 11 2015) one of the “new” versions we got from Italian musicians, a band called Stella Burns and The Lonesome Rabbits, is now a video and part of their new upcoming album called Jukebox Songs.
Louie Louie is the first single from the new album by Stella Burns and The Lonesome Rabbits, Jukebox Song, released September 13, 2016. A cover album that embraces Leonard Cohen, Calexico, Radiohead and Mino Reitano, revisited through the typical style of the Livorno cowboy.
The attached press release says “Louie Louie (Richard Berry song of 1957) is a song so well known and covered that it required, perhaps most of the other songs on the disc, a signbificant dose of courage and adventure”….”The version is unusual because lazy and listless and the video fully respects this attitude. Shot in the main entrance of Ex Aurora, a theater in Livorno, which for the musicians has become a family house, in the video we see a playback connecting Stella Burns indolence and, conversely, the enthusiasm of the Lonesome Rabbits. The deliberately simple animations created by Sara Cimarosti emphasize the playful atmosphere.
This version was unveiled this week – September 13th 2016 by Love & Thunder Records.
This week, the LOUIE spotlight is pointed at the 1968 (?) recording of LOUIE LOUIE by Ike and Tina Turner. It’s a powerful version of the song, and one that I’d consider one of the Essential LOUIE LOUIE recordings!
I’m not sure whether this version was first released as a 45 single or an album cut, but it can be found on the Ike & Tina Turner: Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 album, as well as the out-of-print Best of LOUIE LOUIE, Volume 2.
Back in 1988, Bloom Country, the brilliant comic strip by Berke Breathed, provided some special LOUIE LOUIE lyrics to celebrate the Presidential Election of United States, imagining different sets of LOUIE lyrics for each of the candidates – Mike Dukakis, George H.W. Bush, and Bill the Cat!
The Bloom County comic strip originally ran from 1980 until 1989, but was recently restarted after a 25 year hiatus, currently available via Facebook and GoComics.com.
“Pete Fountain, the goateed clarinetist who became a global ambassador of New Orleans jazz with his flawlessly slippery technique and joyful sound, died Saturday of heart failure while in hospice care in New Orleans.”
I thought it was a perfect statement about Mr. Fountain well worth recycling.
The NOLA Media Group pointed out an unusual aspect of their native son of New Orleans (LOUISiana):
Unlike other musicians whose lives were marked by marital strife, substance abuse and run-ins with the law, Mr. Fountain lived a blissful existence with Beverly Lang Fountain, his wife of 64 years, and a sizable number of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“His love of family kept him going,” said Benny Harrell, Mr. Fountain’s son-in-law and manager. “He was very fortunate to be able to perform his music in New Orleans, whereas most musicians have to go on the road. People would travel here to see him.
“He had tours, but his life wasn’t spent on the road. … He was able to make his music here, performing the music he loved. He played the music he grew up with.”
Both of these articles provide excellent overviews of his musical legacy.
At the website, which offers a LOUIE-centric point of view, we provide a special type of linkage.
Pete Fountain shared his version of LOUIE LOUIE on his 1963 album entitled “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”
This version was also included as part of Rhino Record’s “Best of LOUIE LOUIE – Volume 2” compilation that was released in 1989.
Ill Folks, aka The Blog Of Less Renown, Celebrating Under-Appreciated Unusual, Unique, Sick Or Strange Singers, Songwriters And Songs, shared a nice tribute to his version of LOUIE LOUIE a few years ago with a post entitled “Pete Fountain GOOSES “Louie Louie!”
One of the main problems with the song is to figure out what the hell to sing. It’s in a sort of incomprehensible dialect. Pete and the boys get around this by simply walking to the middle of the road, and crooning the song’s redundant two-word title. “Just pronounce it like it’s written….Looey Looey.”
Pete’s clarinet, over a slinky beat, gives a few torpid “ahh ooooh” honks, while the muted choir lumbers along, not sure what other lines they’re supposed to sing. Pete livens things up with some staccato squeaks…and this goes on just long enough (2:10).
When you visit the Ill Folks webpage, you can find a link to an MP3 file of this very special version!
Some people believe that Paul McCartney‘s composition “Yesterday” may be the world’s most recorded song of all time. I happen to believe that Richard Berry‘s composition “LOUIE LOUIE” may be a better candidate for that particular title. On Pete Fountain’s album “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” he shares his recordings of both of these two songs.
Can anyone think of another musician that might have released an album / CD that featured recordings of these two iconic songs?
Here’s a LOUIE recording that I really enjoyed finding…
Blue Johnson aka Bangkok Blue did a jazzy remix of Richard Berry‘s original version, and shared with the world on YouTube.
Here’s a brief description from his YouTube page:
“Louie’s In The House” is a REMIX of Richard Berry‘s original recording of “Louie Louie”. Most people never realized that Richard Berry wrote and recorded the song in 1957. In 1963 the Kingsmen recorded the song and it became a world-wide mega-hit but there was never any mention that Richard Berry was the original writer of the song. Fortunately in the mid 80’s, Berry’s lawyers were able to prove in court that he had been illegally deprived of several million dollars in unpaid back royalties! Richard Berry finally won a lucrative settlement that put an end to one of the biggest rip-off attempts in the history of the music business!
In 2006 my son, James Ming Johnson and I decided to do this REMIX in honor of the late, great Richard Berry. Ming (who was in high school then), did all the digital sampling and engineering from the original 45 RPM single and he and I both programmed and added some keyboard parts in this REMIX.
This may become my favorite new LOUIE recording of the year, as I really enjoy hearing versions that don’t sound like any other versions… as well as hearing different variations of Richard singing that song…