RIP: Pete Fountain, jazz clarinetist – LOUIE of the Week

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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 borrowed that opening sentence from Randy Lewis’s fine obituary that was shared on August 6th in the Los Angeles Times.

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.”

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This version was also included as part of Rhino Record’s “Best of LOUIE LOUIE – Volume 2” compilation that was released in 1989.

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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!

Rest in peace, Pete Fountain!

Reference:

Ill Folks – Pete Fountain GOOSES “Louie Louie
Los Angeles Times obituary on Pete Foutain
NOLA Media Group obituary on Pete Foutain
Discogs entry for Pete Fountain LP “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”
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AFTERTHOUGHT:
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?