Follow-up on Jack Ely & Courtmen at Ontario Armory

Jack Ely sent out a message to his friends after his big show at the Ontario Armory. He gave me permission to recycle these words, so here’s his report:

As most of you know by now, last weekend my old band and I played a benefit gig for the tri-county food bank at the Ontario Armory in Ontario, Oregon and they sold out over 1,000 tickets.

OK OK. Here’s the deal. The weather cooperated and wasn’t too hot. The Armory was packed so tight one had to tighten their belt to walk thru the crowd. The local bands were great. Everyone danced till they dropped. My band, however, was the greatest. They managed to make even me sound good. And, for the finale we got all the other band’s members to join us on stage for another round of “Louie Louie.” What a hoot.

Now they’re talkin’ about making the Armory Reunion gig an annual event. Who knows? Oh, and did I mention the best part. We raised around $10,000 for the tri county food bank. Hooray. If they do it again, you’d better get your tickets early. Be there or be square.

As I was leaving I heard a man say to his wife, “That’s the best twelve bucks I’ve ever spent.” And someone else said, “I’ve never seen so many smiling faces in one place.” It was a lot of fun.



Tex & Horseheads – LOUIE of the Week

It’s time for another rare LOUIE from the E.P. archives!

In the early-mid 1980’s, I was just getting started in the video biz. The LOUIE project began with the help of a local public access channel that allowed me to borrow a big 3 tube video camera with a 3/4″ Umatic portapack. I didn’t own any video gear back then, so I relied on whatever equipment I could borrow.

In 1985, not long after I began the LOUIE project, I was still involved with KFJC, a college radio station where this whole thing began. KFJC was sponsored a musical showcase in conjunction with I.B.S., a national college radio organization that had a convention in San Jose in November 1985. This special showcase event was held the Works Gallery, and it featured such bands as the Morlocks, Big Hair, Thin White Rope, and Tex & the Horseheads, who were the headline act for the evening.

I borrowed someone’s video camera, a “state-of-art” consumer VHS camera to document this special musical event. Other than a small handful of people in my immediate circle, nobody really saw my footage of that show. It wasn’t really great footage, as this camera didn’t handle low-light very well. There were some “comet tail” type smears that were typical of what you’d see with tube cameras used in low-light situations. I couldn’t imagine much of an audience for this stuff, so I threw it in a box of videotapes, and forgot about it.

Fast forward some twenty years later, and it turns out that I shot some fairly unique footage that’s extremely rare. Most, if not all of the bands broke up, and very little video material exists of these performers. One of the bands, Big Hair, achieved a certain degree of a cult notoriety as a groundsbreaking cowpunk band in San Jose that broke up way too soon. As folks expressed an interest in seeing this stuff, I’ve been going through this material and sharing with a worldwide audience on YouTube. I may not be getting any money for this, but it feels good to see people reconnect with the music they loved.

It turns out that I shot a performance of “LOUIE LOUIE” by Tex & the Horseheads at this show. It wasn’t the greatest performance I’ve ever heard of the song, and it certainly wasn’t a great video, but it’s extremely rare, and it’s yet another version song that could be added to the ongoing list of the “World’s Most Recorded Song.”

This is what you call an definite out-take, because I don’t think I’ll be using it in the big documentary.

The Drake Levin Memorial

A few weeks ago, there was a wonderful memorial for Drake Levin, guitarist with Paul Revere & the Raiders. Family and friends came together to celebrate the man with beautiful stories, some funny jokes, and wonderful memories. I was asked to videotape the ceremony, and some of these stories were too good to not share, so here’s some snippets for your enjoyment:

Here’s a photo of some of us that were there, courtesy of Larry Rogers.

Drake Levin memorial photo by Larry Rogers

So could someone please tell me why Paul Revere & the Raiders aren’t in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

Seriously… why?

Benefit for Paul Williams- Sunday in San Francisco

Paul Williams of Crawdaddy magazine

For the past two weeks, I’ve been away from home, helping a dear friend with a big move to Southern California. This weekend, I’m coming back home just in time to attend a very special benefit concert.

This Sunday at the Red Devil Lounge in San Francisco, there’s going to be a benefit concert for Paul Williams, founder of Crawdaddy magazine. Musicians scheuled to appear at this event include Mojo Nixon, John Doe (X), Jello Biafra, Debora Iyall & Petter Dunne (Romeo Void), Mark Eitzel (American Music Club), Mario Cipollina, and Paul’s wife, Cindy Lee Berryhill. I have a feeling there’s probably going to be some special guests that will show at this one, but I know it’s going super-crowded, as this club is very small.

Paul Williams, who’s often been mistaken for the singer-songwriter of the same name, was one of the true pioneers in rock music journalism. In 1966, at the age of 17 years old, Paul started Crawdaddy Magazine. His website provides some interesting details about his remarkable life:

Beginning with a phone call to his dorm room from Bob Dylan, Crawdaddy! placed Paul at the center of the burgeoning counterculture, involving him with many of the subjects of his writing: Dylan, Jim Morrison, David Crosby, Brian Wilson, Philip K. Dick, Theodore Sturgeon, and many others. Among the many characteristic glimpses of Paul’s “Zelig”-like place in the ‘60’s: in 1968 he served as campaign manager for Timothy Leary’s run for the governorship of California, during which time he and Leary joined John Lennon and Yoko Ono at their Toronto “Bed-in For Peace”. During the overnight visit the song “Come Together” was written, based on Leary’s campaign slogan “Come together, join the party”. Paul’s voice can be heard mixed into the chorus on the original recording of “Give Peace A Chance”. Similarly, on The Doors “Unknown Soldier”, he can be heard locking and loading a rifle. Paul was introduced to marijuana by none other than Brian Wilson, in a tent in Wilson’s living room, while listening to early masters of what would become SMiLE, and he wasn’t only at Woodstock, he rode to the festival from New York City in the Grateful Dead’s limousine. Paul’s books of what he calls “Practical Philosophy”, like Das Energi, and his memoirs of commune living and hippie lifestyle document his immersive style of cultural participation; more so perhaps than any of the other early rock writers, Paul lived inside the new world the music heralded.

In 1992, I met Paul and his future wife Cindy Lee Berryhill at a American Booksellers Association convention in Anaheim. I thought they were both exceptional people, and was tickled when Cindy shared a wonderful personal LOUIE story for my LOUIE LOUIE documentary.

In 1995, Paul Williams suffered a traumatic brain injury in a bicycle accident, leading to early onset of dementia, and a steady decline to the point where he now requires full-time care. The burden on his immediate family has been immense, and there’s an effort to solicit help, in the form of contributions of any size, to assist in Paul’s continued care and medical attention.

I’m happy to show my support by attending this special event, and getting the word out. If you can’t attend this show, I’d like to encourage you to share your support with whatever contribution you can make. Paul and Cindy are good people.

Paul Williams webpage
Red Devil Lounge webpage
Cindy Lee Berryhill webpage
Rolling Stone article
SF Gate article
Paul Williams Wikipedia entry

The Sonics in Long Beach!

Last year, I saw an amazing performance by the Sonics, a band I never expected to see reunite.

It looks like I have another chance to see them again next month…

Ink n Iron in Long Beach 2009

This Ink-N-Iron Festival sounds like quite a soiree out in Long Beach, CA next month. It’ll be a hodgepodge of tattoos, hot rods, garage rock, and pretty girls onboard the Queen Mary on June 5th-7th. In addition to the Sonics, there’s also going to be the Fuztones, the Eagles of Death Metal, Genitorturers, the Woggles, the Slackers, the Legendary Shack Shackers, and a whole bunch of other bands with cool names.

I’m tempted to go if I can juggle that time and money thing some 400 miles from my home turf. This sounds like a really fun event…

You can find out more about this show by visiting the official website at

Here’s a little reminder of what the Sonics are all about, with a performance of “Louie Louie” and “Witch” at Oslo, Norway.

…. and here’s one of their other great originals, “Psycho” from the same show.

Bruce Springsteen (a few days ago) – LOUIE of the Week

You gotta love any band that takes requests from the audience!

Bruce Springsteen delivered a new version of LOUIE LOUIE in Toronto on May 7, 2009 … because someone in the crowd asked for it!

Here’s an incomplete video of the song, with the currently-best camera angle of this performance…

Here’s what the song looked like from behind the stage…

Here’s a clip of this performance from someone up in the nose-bleed seats….

OK, this is worthy of this week’s LOUIE of the Week! Good job, Boss…

The A.P. story on Jack Ely, Louie Louie, and money from music

My sister Ann, who shares a birthday with Jack Ely, was the first one to send me this story as shared by the Baltimore Sun:

Singers tell Congress: Money (That’s What I Want)
By Ryan Nakashima | The Associated Press
May 4, 2009
Jack Ely, the singer whose 1963 version of “Louie Louie” still makes the rounds on oldies radio, lives with his wife in a mobile home on a horse ranch in Oregon. Ely says they share $30,000 a year from her teacher’s pension and his Social Security checks. They are paying down a mortgage.
So sometimes it bothers Ely, 65, when he hears his voice singing “Louie Louie” on the radio or in sports arenas, knowing he’s not getting paid.
“It gets played twice a day by every oldies radio station everywhere in the world. And I get nothing,” said Ely, who recorded the song with The Kingsmen before getting drafted by the Army and leaving the band. “I got one check for $5,000. That’s all I ever saw from the sale of ‘Louie Louie.'”

Read the full story by clicking here.

One little quibble. I’m mentioned in the article as “a student who helped organize the (KFJC marathon)” is somewhat misleading. I tried to point out that others (Stretch Riedle, Phil Dirt & Doc Pelzel) actually organized this event. I merely supported their efforts, and wound up being the only one to bring a video camera to the big show.

There will be an Associated Press video of this story, but in the meantime, I’ll share a video that I shot of Jack with one of his horses.

UPDATE: As I don’t see my name in the newspapers very often, I thought it’d be interesting to see what other papers carried this story. I didn’t see it in my regular paper – the San Jose Mercury, but here’s some others that did. The comments at different newspaper URLs are often entertaining…

USA Today
Fort Worth Star Telegram (an abbrieviated version, but includes a photo of Jack Ely)
Corvallis Gazette Times– another photo of Jack
Salt Lake Tribune
Bismarck Tribune
Boston Globe
Chicago Sun-Times
Seattle Times

Countdown to International LOUIE LOUIE Day

Tomorrow, Saturday, April 11th is International LOUIE LOUIE Day!

To celebrate this special event, I will be sharing a rare, never-before-seen video from the E.P. video archives of a LOUIE LOUIE performance that took place at the infamous KFJC MAXIMUM LOUIE LOUIE marathon. It was at this event where I realized what a significant song LOUIE LOUIE is. Armed with a public access portable 3/4″ Umatic video package, I began a most peculiar quest that wound encompassing far more energy than I ever dreamed possible.

This clip will be nothing at all like that Neil Young KFJC performance that I posted last week. It will a lively peformance of band you’ve never heard of, playing their hearts out for a rather wild studio audience at KFJC radio. I hope you find it very entertaining.

What else is going on for International LOUIE LOUIE Day?

Here’s a few things I can tell you about…

On Saturday morning, Sacramento TV station KOVR, a CBS-CW affiliate, will be devoting a special segment to “International LOUIE LOUIE Day” for their “Good Day Sacramento” TV show. There’s a very good chance that yours truly, may appear on this TV show, in some form or another….

Over in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho at the Northwest Academy Music Center, there’s going to be a special LOUIE LOUIE event going during their big April Madness celebration:

April 11th is international “Louie, Louie day.” Come celebrate with us by playing the song that Rolling Stones Magazine ranked #55 on their list of the greatest songs of all time. We want every musician in the area to join us in singing “Louie, Louie” together at 2pm. Participants are encouraged to bring their own amps and guitars but can use the store’s as well. Everyone who shows up and plays, including staff members, will receive a $5 gift card redeemable that day only.
We’re also partnering with 29k Productions to bring you the “Louie, Louie” Video contest. All day April 11th you can come in and perform “Louie, Louie” in front of a video camera and the best (read craziest) performance will win a special prize. Don’t miss it!

Tonight, if I was in Seattle, I would absolutely be at the Moore Theater to see the Fabulous Wailers on a double bill with the Ventures. Here’s a poster for that event:

Ventures Wailers in Seattle, April 10, 2009

The Fabulous Wailers and the Ventures just finished recording a new album called Two Car Garage Music, which is a joint performance of these two legendary bands, celebrating the fact that both of the bands have been around for 50 years. It appears there may even be a NEW performance of LOUIE LOUIE on this one…

Two Car Garage- the CD

By all means, if you hear of any other International LOUIE LOUIE Day celebrations going on, please drop us a line, why don’t cha?

California Games – LOUIE of the Week

This week, I’m necessarily sharing a version of LOUIE LOUIE that doesn’t necessarily excite me or entertain me. On the other hand, this week’s LOUIE of the Week doesn’t look like a typical bar band or another marching band. This is a version that I would categorize as “archival” or “historically-significant.”

It’s a version of LOUIE LOUIE that came from a video game, shared as a YouTube clip by UklaMokk of Brazil. The game was called “California Games,” which was manufactured by Epyx for Atari 2600 and SEGA Master System game platforms. This clip actually has three versions – two computer music versions and one by “The Kingsmen,” which I was actually just Jack Ely re-recording the song without the other guys.

Ironically, this website is maintained in the Silicon Valley region, home of Apple, Google, Intel, Yahoo, and the highly influential, extinct Atari corporation. For what it’s worth, I live within a few miles of the original Round Table Pizza restaurant that was the first place where the public could play the very first Atari application – “Pong.” The video game device is long gone, but you can still order pizza and beer at this mostly-unacknowledged California landmark.