Thursday night rush hour in downtown Portland came with its own rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack at the corner of Southwest 4th Avenue and Southwest Jefferson Street.
Hundreds gathered on the steps of Portland City Hall to belt out “Louie Louie” in unison to pay tribute to the hit song and help roll out a summer fundraising campaign.
“Louie Louie” was written by Richard Berry in 1955, but it’s most known for the version recorded by Portland-based band, The Kingsmen, in 1963. Recorded in a studio at Southwest 13th Avenue and West Burnside Street, the song went on to be a classic and at one point, was even investigated by the FBI for alleged inappropriate lyrics.
More than 50 years later, the surviving members of The Kingsmen, along with an adult marching band and an all-girls rock ‘n’ roll band lead what the group claims to be the “world’s largest Louie Louie sing-a-long.” There was even a specially-made “Bluie Louie doughnut” by Voodoo Doughnut for the cause.
The World’s Largest Louie, Louie Sing-A-Long
Thursday, June 25th 5:30PM-6:30PM
Portland City Hall
1221 SW 4th Ave
On Thursday, June 25 from 5:30pm-6:30pm Know Your City(KYC) will host The World’s Largest Louie, Louie Sing-A-Long, an event to promote the music tour, Sing a Song of Portland and to launch a new summer fundraising drive, on the steps of Portland City Hall. The event will be led by Master of Ceremonies, Tres Shannon, of Voodoo Doughnuts, and feature performances from local bands, Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls Band with special guests – the original surviving members of The Kingsmen, reggae band Heavy City, and The Beat Goes On Marching Band, with more special guests to be announced.
The World’s Largest Louie, Louie Sing-A-Long is also the launch of a summer fundraising drive to support KYC’s highly regarded placemaking programs which engage the public in arts and social justice. KYC programming appeals to locals and visitors, with the goal to educate through experiential projects, such as youth programs, walking tours and publications. Louie, Louie is featured on the Sing-A-Song of Portland walking tour – a trip through Portland’s musical past, giving tour-goers the opportunity to hear – and sing! – songs featured on the tour. KYC’s summer fundraising drive is necessary to ensure the organization can continue to develop innovative projects that take risks and celebrate creative placemaking in Portland.
Everyone knows the song, Louie, Louie. It’s considered to be one of the greatest rock and roll songs of all time, and is known around the world. The familiar opening riff is played by high school marching bands at every parade, every hometown football game. What many people don’t know is that the most famous version was recorded here in Portland by local band, The Kingsmen, in 1963, right off SW 13th and Burnside. Although recorded more than 1600 times, this version of Louie, Louie has been the most enduring and the most controversial from the hard-partying guitars to the hard to distinguish lyrics the FBI thought were obscene. A fact that only added to its allure!
The program for KYC’s World’s Largest Louie, Louie Sing-A-Long will include:
– Tres Shannon as Master of Ceremonies to introduce the festivities and bring his special Blouie, Louie Voodoo Doughnuts made exclusively for the event with proceeds donated to KYC!
– Terry Currier, from Portland landmark Music Millennium and Roger Hart, former radio announcer and manager of Paul Revere & the Raiders, will tell the history of the song and provide personal anecdotes from Portland’s musical past.
– Commissioner Nick Fish will read an official declaration June 25th Celebrate Louie, Louie day, by proclamation of the City.
And more bands, as they confirm!
Help us set the world’s record! RSVP to the Facebook event and receive up-to-the-minute info about new bands added and special guests!
Only one day before the event??? A shame I didn’t know about this one sooner….
This week’s LOUIE is by a band known as Box Office Poison.
Apparently, this version of the classic Louie Louie was voted best version of the song by listeners of XFM radio. It was featured on the Box Office Poison EP entitled “Think for Yourself,” which is available on CD and digital download.
In the 1990’s B.O.P. started a new genre of music called Pop Noir, which has a atmospheric, filmic feel and gritty lyrics just like it’s sister genre Film Noir. Production was experimental, with song writer/producer and driving force Russell C. Writer reluctant to leave the studio until he’d invented a new sound or way of doing things on the tracks.
With a central core of permanent members and a fluid line-up of guest members the band was able to incorporate new sounds whenever required. There are elements of jazz improv, film music, catchy pop, punk attitude and classical style in the tracks. This combination gives B.O.P. a very distinctive and alternative sound.
We all know bands who say they’re doing something really different, only to find that they’re doing the same old thing as everybody else. Being a rebel is to go against the grain and the establishment! Nearly everyone who decides to be in a band picks up a guitar as a starting point. Box Office Poison do not use guitars in any of their tracks. They feel they are the only true rebels coming out in music these days. This is not a vain attempt to hype themselves into the press. It’s just that they’d rather pick up a ‘cello when indie guitar is flavour of the month. Also they don’t just sit there ripping off different bits of other people’s hits and stick them in an ever playing loop on a computer. They have a totally new way of composing songs and playing their instruments. There’s plenty more we could say but we think you get the picture. As you will have gathered by now, Box Office Poison appeals to the individual in everyone!
Producer/song writer Russell uses the human voice as another instrument so on some tracks multiple different vocal tracks merge with the backing rather than float above it. Squeaking, soaring, tapping and crying ‘cello adds a haunting and sometimes dolphin or whale-like sound to the intros and outros. Sax trails loosely around in the background giving some tracks a night club feel.
Unfortunately, the band did not last….
Box Office Poison remained cutting edge artists over several years. After changing their name briefly to Pop Noir in 2001 they finally called it a day and dissolved the band in 2002. Psykick Holiday has now taken up the Pop Noir baton on the FLR label.
Here’s something I just found out about. Gary Abbott, the second drummer with the Kingsmen, passed away recently.
Gary had a short run with the Kingsmen. He joined the band sometime after LOUIE LOUIE vocalist / guitarist Jack Ely and bassist Bob Nordby quit the band on August 16, 1963. There was a big falling out when Kingsmen drummer Lynn Easton told the rest of the band that he registered the name for himself, and decided to install himself as the new permanent lead singer of the band. Lynn also wanted Jack to be the permanent drummer. Jack decided this was unacceptable, and quit the band, along with Bob Nordby.
The Kingsmen enlisted Gary Abbott to play drums and Norm Sundholm to play bass, joining himself, Mike Mitchell and Don Gallucci for the new line-up.
I’m not sure how many gigs this variation of the Kingsmen performed, but I know they definitely performed a big show sometime October 1963 at the Chase nightclub, which was recorded live for the first Kingsmen album released by Wand Records. I believe Gary was also part of the Kingsmen when they did a three-week Midwest tour in December 1963.
Sometime after that tour, Dick Peterson replaced Gary Abbott on drums, and Barry Curtis replaced Don Gallucci on keyboards.
After that, I’m not really sure what happened to Gary Abbott. I never tracked him down for the LOUIE documentary, and there’s not much information I could find about him on the internet.
Thanks to the powers of internet social media, I was able to find out via Facebook that Gary passed away in his sleep on April 10th. Seventeen days later, Jack Ely passed away on April 27th.
“Hang On Sloopy” is a close relative of LOUIE LOUIE. We haven’t quite figured out the best way to define the bloodline but there’s a connection that cannot be denied – three chords, a catchy groove and a dedicated group of supporters anxious to embrace it as a state song.
So for now, we’ll just continue to call it a “LOUIE mutant”… or a “LOUIE cousin”… or something like that….
The Rolling Stones recently paid tribute to this song and its legacy when they played it in Columbus, Ohio last Saturday. Years before “Hang On Sloopy” became Ohio’s official rock song, and an anthem at all the sporting events throughout the Buckeye State, the Rolling Stones included it as a regular part of their repertoire in 1966.