Los Angeles rhythm and blues revisited

Two guys that are doing a lot to preserve some great history of Los Angeles 1960s pop culture are Domenic Priore and Brian Chidester, who’ve published some excellent articles with their Dumb Angel publication.

At their Dumb Angel blog, they’ve got a very cool post about L.A.’s Crenshaw District R&B Venues of the ’50s and ’60s, featuring a little mention of Richard Berry. Here’s a photo of Richard on their blog, which they borrowed from one of Richard’s live albums sold at concerts:

Richard Berry in concert

This post is a real treat for collector-archivists. There’s a lot of vintage photos of old musicians, nightclubs, album covers, and advertisements for some very cool performances.

I found an advertisement in my archives that would fit well into this particular posting. It’s an old newspaper ad for some Los Angeles strip club in the late 50’s, featuring legendary saxphonist Big Jay McNeely as one of the talents. I wonder what ever happened to “Stormy Nite?” Hmmm……

Big Jay McNeedly at York Club

Anyways, Domenic Priore and Brian Chidester have a new book entitled Riot on Sunset Strip: Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Last Stand in Hollywood, which looks pretty good. They’re touring the country to promote this book, and I recommend checking them out. They’ve even got a MySpace page. Go visit ’em, and tell ’em LOUIE sent ya….

Steve Propes’ ultra-rare “LOUIE LOVIE” 45 single

Steve Propes' Louie Lovie 45 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Here’s an image that you’ll be be unlikely to see anywhere else. My friend Steve Propes, who’s provided some excellent support to THE MEANING OF LOUIE documentary project over the years, has uncovered an extremely rare version of Richard Berry‘s original recording on the Flip Records label. He wrote an article about his personal history with this extremely rare piece of vinyl for the Record Convention News, which was also recycled at Jerry Osborne‘s Vinyl Village forum.

Steve has given me permission to reprint this article, so here it is:

* * * * * * * * * * *

The Story Of Louie Lovie
By Steve Propes

Okay, I admit it. When in my youth, in the 1960s, I would scribble my name on 45s. To understand why is to understand the era. 45s were easy to find. They were also important. My friend Bill and I would cruise Hody’s, Grisingers and Oscar’s in his 56 Chevy and play cool records on his ARC under the dash record player that dug into the playing surface with extra pressure to prevent the stylus from bouncing around when the lowered car hit the driveway apron. Some of these 45s I recall was an original gold top Federal “Sixty Minute Man” by the Dominoes and and the silver-top “Work With Me Annie” by the Royals. Then there were the rarities on colored vinyl, like “Church Key” by the Revels. And just the great cruising music like “Take the Key” by Richard Berry and the Pharoahs, and of course, “Louie Louie” and “Have Love, Will Travel.”

Then there were the parties. To keep the music cool and prevent the playing of Pat Boone or Bobby Vee records (except for ”Suzie Baby,” of course), one had to furnish better records. But one wanted to keep track of these records, so name-writing was the method of sorting out a potentially dangerous “that’s my 45!” debate with a car club guy who brought some sides and some friends.

If you wore out a record or one was stolen, you could go to Wallich’s Music City or any of the stores in the Long Beach area and pick up a replacement with ease. But there were those 45s that were impossible to replace. In fact, it was while visiting Wallich’s and checking the James Brown section when I found out that the word “collector’s item” applied to “Mashed Potatoes U.S.A.” Looking further at the bins, I saw that some 45s were no longer available. That’s when I decided to buy all I could of these records, and a record collector was thusly born.

All of which brings us back to “Louie Louie” by Richard Berry & the Pharaohs on Flip, one of the coolest and best 45s to ever be played in a house party setting with the lights down low and the girl smelling like the latest scent of something romantic, her Angora sweater clinging to my sweaty T-shirt. Ow!

Except is wasn’t “Louie Louie.” It was an early mis-press, “Louie Lovie.” I’ve only seen two copies of this mistake press in my life, my own copy of which I lost track and in the 45 collection of a lady associated with Flash Records in the 1950s, who decided to not sell it to me at any price. And I’d lost track of my own. So I was “Louie Lovie”-less until I got a recent call from a collecting/writing friend who resides in a mountain community, who had come across a batch of 45s he was helping to price for a local charity sale. He wanted to know if I’d ever seen “Louie Lovie.” I told him the story of taking it to parties, losing it along the way, a record whose ownership was challenged in the day.

Within a day, he called back. “You’re not going to believe this,” he said.

He was right. As a result of what he told me, he sent me the record, gratis. It was my copy from decades ago. I’ll let you guess how he knew it was once mine. I’m not admitting to anything else.

Note: the same thing happened to me when another of my old records showed up in a Carson City, Nev. find. Records do get around, don’t they?

* * * * * * * * * * *
A tip of the hat goes out to Ken Kaffke and Barbara Hahn for reminding me about this article. All rights to this article reserved by Steve Propes, so no reprinting without permssion, OK?

Whew…. what a week!

E.P. pretends to be rock star

It’s been a very busy week for your truly. I’ve been working on a lot of video projects. I’m editing another music video project for a client. On Thursday, I shot a panel discussion about the Summer of Love at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Last weekend, I worked at the Monterey Pop reunion show that featured a lot of bands that appeared at the original event 40 years ago, which turned out to be far more fun than I expected. Unfortunately the hotel room I was provided with did not have any form of usable internet access, and I had no way of communicating with my internet development team.

For the past 2-3 months, we’ve been developing a separate webpage- LOUIETOPIA.com, which will be used as an online database for the First LOUIE LOUIE Video Contest.

Besides the various video projects and the development of this new webpage, I’ve also had my share of car problems. I’ve had to borrow another car just to take care of my usual tasks while the repairs take place. Before that, I had that stupid hard drive problem I wrote about a few weeks ago. If it’s not one stupid thing, it’s another…

Sometime after the contest is over, the Louietopia site will eventually be transformed into an online LOUIE LOUIE database for all known LOUIE LOUIE recordings. We’ll cross build that bridge when we get to it…

Today, I’m sending out some notices about the First LOUIE LOUIE Video Contest co-sponsored by myself and the good folks at LOUIE Fest. I wish I would have sent out these notices much earlier, just as I wish that I had more time to develop the contest database infrastructure. My big thanks go out to Andy Brick of Exeus Development Limited and Sally LOUIE Everitt of RFMO Limited for volunteering their services to help me create this very ambitious project. They’ve done an awesome job, and I can’t thank them enough for all their exceptional support. It took longer than we expected to create this webpage, and there are still things we’d like to adjust, but we don’t have much time to work with. The deadline for this contest is less than three weeks from now.

That being said, I still hope to see a lot of fun entries to this contest. The winning entries will be showcased at this year’s LOUIE Fest, along with the 1,000 guitars playing LOUIE LOUIE. There’s a very good chance I may even show some rough cuts of THE MEANING OF LOUIE at the LOUIE Fest. Either way, it’s going to be quite an event, and I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of my friends there.

Unexpected LOUIE messages in Monterey:

Before I left Monterey, I took a nice walk around Cannery Row, where I picked up the latest Seafood Watch Guide from one of my favorite living museums- the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Imagine my surprise when I saw this newspaper clipping posted on the window of one of the little shops….

Monterey restaurant gets LOUIE LOUIE treatment