Frank Zappa and LOUIE LOUIE

Of all artists to ever perform the song “LOUIE LOUIE,” no other artist has performed it in so many diverse variations as Mr. Frank Zappa. On one level, you get the feeling that he might have thought it to be the most ridiculous song ever written. On the other hand, he made references to it so many different times, he must have felt a great affinity towards the song. The love/hate relationship Frank Zappa had with the song was interesting and noteworthy. Here are a few selected references to the song made by Frank in interviews:

PART ONE: FRANK ZAPPA IN PRINT ABOUT “LOUIE LOUIE”

1) Starting with his very first album – “Freak Out” by the Mothers of Invention in 1966, Frank Zappa references LOUIE LOUIE in the liner notes.

There’s a BIOGRAPHICAL TRIVIA section where Frank writes about his bandmate and drummer Jim Black (who would later be known as Jimmy Carl Black) – “Jim got fired from some idiot band in Kansas, forcing him to move to California. Lucky for us. Seems he just couldn’t get turned on playing Louie Louie all night …”

There’s also a section in the liner notes entitled “These People Have Contributed Materially in Many Ways to Make Our Music What it is. Please Do Not Hold it Against them,” which features a list of 170 influential people. Richard Berry is listed between Donald Woods (“Death of An Angel”) and Huggy Boy (Los Angeles DJ).

2) The second time Frank Zappa acknowledged the song in print was when he wrote “The Incredible History Of The Mothers” for Hit Parader magazine, dated June, 1968.

He discusses the origins of his first band….

I composed a composite, gap-filling product that fills most of the gaps between so called serious music and the so-called popular music. Next, I needed my own group to present this music to the public.

The group that was to become the Mothers was working in the Broadside, a little bar in Pomona, California.

Jim Black, the drummer, had just come to California from Kansas. He got together with Roy Estrada, the bass player. They’d been working terrible jobs in Orange County, which is a bad place to live unless you belong to the John Birch Society.

They got a band together with Ray Hunt on guitar, Dave Coronado on sax and Ray Collins as lead vocalist. They called themselves the Soul Giants and they were doing straight commercial rhythm and blues “Gloria,” “Louie, Louie,” you got it.

After ten months, the band evolved into a 4-piece band that would become the Mothers.

Then we decided we were going to the big city – Los Angeles – which was about thirty miles away.

We had added a girl to the group, Alice Stuart. She played guitar very well and sang well.

I had an idea for combining certain modal influences into our basically country blues sound. We were playing a lot of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf-type stuff. Alice played good finger-style guitar, but she couldn’t play LOUIE LOUIE, so I fired her.

3) His next LOUIE acknowledgement of the song in print was in DownBeat magazine, the prominent jazz publication. The issue was dated October 1969, and the following comment was on page 14.

Frank Zappa: I don’t think the typical rock fan is smart enough to know he’s been duped, so it doesn’t make any difference … Those kids wouldn’t know good music if it came up and bit them on the ass. Especially in terms of a live concert where the main element is visual. Kids go to see their favorite acts, not to hear them. We work on the premise that nobody really hears what we do anyway, so it doesn’t make any difference if we play a place that’s got ugly acoustics. The best responses we get from an audience are when we do our worst material.

Don Preston: Oh, how can you say that?

Zappa: It’s true man. “Louie Louie” brings the house down every time.

Preston: People were booing the last time you played that. One guy wanted “Louie Louie”, so you said “Okay, we’ll play “Louie Louie””… “Boo!”

Zappa: Maybe they were booing because we didn’t play Midnight Hour instead.

4) In 1986, Frank Zappa was interviewed by Keyboards, Computers & Software (the magazine for future music) for their April 1986 issue.

The primary focus on this article was Frank’s Synclavier,

Zappa’s impassive interview tone begins to thaw a little as he warms to his subject. “The Swap and Retro Tweezer,” he continues, “will let you take the rhythm of one piece of music and swap it with the pitches of another piece of music. Or if you’re doing serial music, you can play any kind of figure that you want on the keyboard, load in your row on the opposite side of the Swapper and push the button. What comes out is totally serialized tone row music. If you just want to be arbitrary, on the other hand, you can simply say: ‘ swap the melody line of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” with the notes of ” Louie Louie .”‘ The software will do it.”

In concluding this interview, Franks leaves us with one especially important concept..

Which brings us to one important final point. While Frank Zappa the Misanthrope Perfectionist is obviously seduced by the gleaming mechanical flawlessness of his Synclavier- and will no doubt be using it quite a bit in the future- he is still a long way from giving up entirely on human musicians.

“Believe me,” he says reassuringly, “if I ever wanted to play ‘Louie Louie,’ I don’ t think I’d waste the time to enter it into the Synclavier.”

5) When Frank Zappa unleashed his autobiography, The Real Frank Zappa Book in 1989, he discussed his early years with the Soul Giants, which included a mention of LOUIE.

I played the gig [with the Soul Giants] for a while, and one night I suggested that we start doing original material so we could get a record contract. Davy [Coronado] didn’t like the idea. He was worried that if we played original material we would get fired from all the nice bars we were working in. The only things club owners wanted bands to play then were Wooly Bully, “Louie Louie” and In The Midnight Hour, because if the band played anything original, nobody would dance to it, and when they don’t dance, they don’t drink.

When a guest conductor comes to town, he is not usually giving a performance of something by a living composer – because he can warm it up in one afternoon and make it sound okay. This makes the accountants happy, and allows the audience to concentrate on his choreography (which is really why they bought the tickets in the first place). Why is that any better than a bunch of guys in a bar band jamming on “Louie Louie” or Midnight Hour?

6) Frank Zappa acknowledged LOUIE in an interview with Denn Simms, Eric Buxton, and Rob Samler on December 22, 1989 for the Society Pages fanzine, issue #1, published April 1990 on page 24.

Denn Simms: There’s a particular moment of [Jesus Thinks You’re A Jerk] that really gets me off a lot, and that is that metamorphosis of, I think it’s somethin’ like Battle Hymn Of The Republic mixed with …

Zappa: Dixie.

Denn: … with Dixie, and Old Rugged Cross, and how that changes into “LOUIE LOUIE”.

Zappa: (laughs)

Denn: That was really a sweet idea. Speaking of “Louie Louie”, that seems like sort of a joke for you, and I’ll just make the guess that that’s because in your early days you were in bands where lots of people seriously said, “Play LOUIE LOUIE.”

Zappa: Well, I was also in bands when “LOUIE LOUIE”, before the Kingsmen made it into the joke that everybody recognizes now. “LOUIE LOUIE” used to be a really cool tune, the Richard Berry version of it. It had, y’ know, a nice arrangement to it, and a whole different feel to it. It wasn’t until The Kingsmen version that it became, y’ know, the “Animal House” joke that it is right now.

7) Frank Zappa shared some great praise for “LOUIE LOUIE” in print during a 1987 interview with Paul Zollo that was published in 1994 in SongTalk (volume 2, issue 5), a trade journal for songwriters..

…Which was later republished as part of Paul Zollo’s anthology of interviews- “Songwriters on Songwriting” – the expanded edition in 1997.

Paul Zollo: “If you had to name a few songs written by other people that you consider to be great, what would they be?”

Zappa: I liked ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ by Bob Dylan, I liked ‘Paperback Writer’ by the Beatles and ‘I Am the Walrus.’ And no one may not underestimate the impact of “LOUIE LOUIE” the original Richard Berry version.

8) In the liner notes of “Strictly Commercial,” a greatest hits-type release that came out after Frank’s death, director/comedian Terry Gilliam (member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, director of BRAZIL, BARON MUNCHAUSEN) acknowledges Frank Zappa & the Mothers “pounding out Louie Louie on that great Victorian organ” at the famous Albert Hall show that was recorded for the UNCLE MEAT album/film project.

PART TWO: KNOWN EXAMPLES OF “LOUIE LOUIE” IN THE RECORDINGS OF FRANK ZAPPA

Note: These examples are listed in the order of their release. Whenever possible time indications are noted to allow the reader to easily locate the LOUIE LOUIE references by using the time counter on their CD player.

1. FREAK OUT! (released in 1966)
There seems to be the vaguest (almost indiscernible) hint of a LOUIE LOUIE that is insinuated into the background of “The Return Of The Son Of The Monster Magnet” at about 7:30 into the track. Also, Richard Berry is acknowledged in the liner notes as one of the major influences on the Mothers of Invention (“Don’t hold it against them”). This 1965 debut recording of Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention was quite revolutionary for its time. Even the Beatles acknowledged FREAK OUT as an inspiration for “SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND.”

2. ABSOLUTELY FREE (released in 1967)
LOUIE LOUIE is a major part of “Plastic People,” beginning with a near-identical opening. There is an obvious reference to LOUIE LOUIE in the line “Plastic people, oh baby, now you’re such a drag,” which replicates the musical phrasing “Louie Louie, (oh baby) me gotta go now.” Much of rhythm is identical to LOUIE LOUIE, but this studio rendition deviates from the LOUIE sturcture to explore other musical territories. Other versions of “Plastic People” are closer to the LOUIE LOUIE structure.

3. ABSOLUTELY FREE (released in 1967)
I don’t know how I initially forgot to mention “Son of Suzy Creamcheese” in previous versions of this article, but it’s hard to ignore the influence of LOUIE in this song. From a melodic point, I’d estimate that LOUIE LOUIE comprises about 50% of the song. The main stanza in the song “Suzie Creamcheese, oh baby, what’s got into you” would be a perfect musical match to the line “Louie Louie, (oh baby) me gotta go” if the phrase “oh baby” was actually a part of the original lyrics.

4. LUMPY GRAVY (released in 1968)
In the song”Lumpy Gravy Part 1, ” the phrase “Louie Louie” is sung at 9:23. This would be considered Frank’s first solo album.

5. UNCLE MEAT (released in 1969)
This is Frank’s first actual cover version of “Louie Louie” (well, sort of). Recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall in London and featuring Don Preston at “the mighty, majestic Albert Hall pipe organ,” the juxtaposition of the world’s dumbest song, played on one of the biggest pipe organs in existence, is simply exquisite! This version is, of course, intentionally frivolous. UNCLE MEAT is also a film produced by Frank Zappa, available on home video.

6. ONE SIZE FITS ALL (released in 1975)
“Florentine Pogen” adds a LOUIE LOUIE riff (3:07-3:09) in the fourth verse, after the line “She didn’t wanna stay home an’ watch the pestle go mortar.”

7. BONGO FURY (released in 1975)
This album is actually a collaboration between Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, recorded live in Austin, Texas. The LOUIE LOUIE riff (2:14-2:52) is thrown in behind Captain Beefheart’s bizarre lyrics right after the words “Sam was a basket case!” in the song “Sam With The Showing Scalp Flat Top,” with lyrics supplied by Beefheart.

8. STUDIO TAN (originally LÄTHER) (recorded between 1974-1976, released in 1978)
One cycle of the LOUIE LOUIE chord progression (12:17-12:19) can be heard in “The Adventures Of Greggery Peccary” after the line “They proceed to perform lewd acts.” (This track has re-appeared on the recent re-assemblage of LÄTHER, the original collection of music that was dissected by record label executives, creating STUDIO TAN, and other records that were part of Frank’s original plan.)

9. MYSTERY DISC (originally part of OLD MASTERS, BOX ONE) (recorded in 1964?, released in 1985)
This is one of the earliest recordings by Frank Zappa, and came about when Frank was just starting off at Studio Z. Appropriately, this track is called “Opening Night at Studio Z”, which features someone stating the phrase “Louie Louie” at approximately 24 seconds. Much of this dialogue is reminscent of the tracks on the LUMPY GRAVY album.

10. MYSTERY DISC (originally part of OLD MASTERS, BOX ONE) (recorded in 1966, released in 1985)
On this typical concert version of “Plastic People,” the LOUIE LOUIE structure is more pronounced than the original studio version on ABSOLUTELY FREE, particularly in the way that the verses (compared to the refrain) are sung. This version occurred at the Fillmore Auditorium on either June 24 or 25, 1966, when the Mothers opened for Lenny Bruce.

11. YOU CAN’T DO THAT ON STAGE ANYMORE, VOL. 1 (also appears on YCDTOSA – SAMPLER) (recorded in 1969, released in 1988)
This is another live version of “Plastic People” recorded on February 13, 1969 at a bar called The Factory in the Bronx, NYC. (It is more or less from the same era as the MYSTERY DISC version.) In this recording, Frank even lectures the audience about the similarities between “Plastic People” and “Louie Louie.” This particular version is closer to the structure of LOUIE LOUIE and is an example of what we at LouieLouie.Net would label as a “LOUIE LOUIE clone.” In fact, Richard Berry is given co-writer’s credit in the sleeve notes.

12. YOU CAN’T DO THAT ON STAGE ANYMORE, VOL. 1 (recorded in 1974, released in 1988)
“Ruthie Ruthie” is an example of something that permeated the performances of this particular tour: musically improvised reports of the escapades of various musicians, roadies, managers, etc. things that later became part of the “folklore.” In this case, the improvised words are those of Napoleon Murphy Brock, who receives credit in the album notes. The “report” pertains to Ruth barfing and kicking some poor, unfortunate guy in the nuts. This track was recorded at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, New Jersey on November 8 (not 18), 1974. Once again, as this track begins to segue into the next, Frank’s words to the audience assert that this improvisation is derived from LOUIE LOUIE. To date, this is the only legitimate rendition of this song.

13. YOU CAN’T DO THAT ON STAGE ANYMORE, VOL. 2 (recorded in 1974, released in 1988)
It would take a percussionist to find the LOUIE LOUIE reference in this particular concert recording, and a drummer did indeed find the hidden moment. In the song “Dupree’s Paradise,” there is a “123-12-123-12 / LOUIE LOUIE” type rhythm at approximately 23:20 minutes. This particular recording took place on September 22, 1974 in Helsinki, Finland.

14. BROADWAY THE HARD WAY (released in 1989)
In the song “Jesus Thinks You’re A Jerk,” the last portion of the song transforms into something of a LOUIE LOUIE clone at 8:15 minutes. The names “Jim and Tammy” are substituted for “Louie Louie,” and the phrase “we gotta go” is altered to become “they gotta go.”

15 + 16. THE BEST BAND YOU NEVER HEARD IN YOUR LIFE (recorded in 1988, released in 1991)
As in the original version of “Florentine Pogen,” this live track contains the LOUIE LOUIE riff in the fourth verse (2:52-2:54). Another LOUIE LOUIE reference from this 1988 concert recording can be heard in an inspired rendition of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” which clocks in at a brief :22-:24 mention.

17. UNMITIGATED AUDACITY (from BEAT THE BOOTS box set #1) (recorded in 1974, released in 1991)
Tired of seeing the bootleggers release rare recordings of his concerts, Frank Zappa teamed up with Rhino Records to put out a series of albums that replicated the original unauthorized releases. This quasi-officially released Zappa version of “Louie Louie” was recorded May 12, 1974 at Notre Dame University, South Bend, Indiana where LOUIE LOUIE was used as an instrumental accompaniment to Frank’s band introductions as the show came to the end.

18. ANYWAY THE WIND BLOWS (from BEAT THE BOOTS box set #1) (recorded in 1979, released in 1991)
The song “Florentine Pogen”, first heard on ONE SIZE FITS ALL, is performed live in Paris on February 24, 1979. The LOUIE LOUIE riff can be heard at 3:12.

19. TIS THE SEASON TO BE JELLY (from BEAT THE BOOTS box set #1) (released in 1991)
In the song “It Can’t Happen Here” someone says “Louie Louie, me gotta go” around 1:31-1:35.

20. SAARBR¸CKEN 1978 (from BEAT THE BOOTS box set #1) (released in 1991)
LOUIE LOUIE is quoted in “Magic Fingers,” performed in Saarbr¸cken, September 3, 1978.

21. YOU CAN’T DO THAT ON STAGE ANYMORE, VOL. 3 (recorded in 1973, released in 1991)
The audience asks for it before “Dickie’s Such An Asshole,” performed in Hollywood, December 9-12, 1973.

22. YOU CAN’T DO THAT ON STAGE ANYMORE, VOL. 4 (recorded in 1974, released in 1991)
In the song “Smell My Beard,” a George Duke composition, there is a quick snippet of the LOUIE LOUIE riff at 4:10 minutes. This concert recording took place during the winter of 1974 at some undisclosed location in New Jersey.

23. ELECTRIC AUNT JEMIMA (from BEAT THE BOOTS box set #2) (recorded in 1968, released in 1992)
On this particular authorized bootleg, we are treated to another version of “Plastic People,” Frank Zappa’s most popular LOUIE LOUIE clone. This version, recorded live in Denver sometime in 1968, starts at 5:45 on track 7.

24. TENGO NA MINCHA TANTA (from BEAT THE BOOTS box set #2) (recorded in 1968, released in 1992)
On this marginally-authorized bootleg, LOUIE LOUIE is mentioned in the intro of “What Will This Morning Bring Me This Evening,”

25. YOU CAN’T DO THAT ON STAGE ANYMORE, VOL. 6 (recorded in 1980, released in 1992)
The LOUIE LOUIE riff is recycled in the song “Magic Fingers” at 1:46 minutes. This moment occurred in Santa Monica, California on December 11, 1980.

26. YELLOW SHARk (released in 1993)
On the last recording from Frank Zappa released during his lifetime, there is a brief stanza of LOUIE LOUIE within the composition entitled “Welcome to the United States.” At 5:20 of track 14, “terrorist activities” are discussed, using the LOUIE LOUIE riff to tie into a sense of musical anarchy.

27. HALLOWEEN (recorded in 1978, released in 2003)
LOUIE LOUIE is quoted in “Magic Fingers,” performed in NYC, October, 1978.

28. JOE’s CORSAGE (recorded in 1965, released in 2004)
This was actually one of the earliest variations of a Zappa LOUIE LOUIE recording. It is believed that this version of “Plastic People” was recorded in 1965, the year before the release of FREAK OUT.

To date, these were the only authorized recordings of Frank Zappa that utilized the LOUIE LOUIE theme…. that we know of!

PART THREE: LIVE PERFORMANCES

1) Sometime in June 1966,Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, opened for Lenny Bruce at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. The very first song of this set was “PLASTIC PEOPLE” – an inspired re-write of Richard Berry‘s immortal melody.

I spotted the YouTube recording of this concert on DangerousMinds.net, but it’s no longer there. Perhaps someday it will be officially released.

2) On November 14, 1970, during the Mothers of Invention’s late show at the Fillmore East, New York City, Frank Zappa asked the question.. “Do you want Grace Slick to sing LOUIE LOUIE?” (05:29)

3) Sometime in 1984 (or 1985), Frank did a live performance of LOUIE LOUIE with Howard Stern on The Howard Stern Show on WNBC-AM New York.

It’s another one of those recordings that was online, and now missing. Perhaps we’ll hear it again sometime…

4) Finally, there’s Frank’s last LOUIE LOUIE performance, albeit a minimalist but beautiful stab at the song.

Big thanks to Francis of France, who alerted me to a video of Frank Zappa conducting a performance of “Welcome to the United States” with Ensemble Modern in Frankfurt, Germany on September 19, 1992.

You can hear this lovely chunk of LOUIE LOUIE at the 5:15 mark.


"Welcome to the US" by Frank Zappa
Uploaded by Steelydan

Of course, one can’t forget the ZAPPA TOUR(S) ON WHICH ZAPPA PERFORMED LOUIE LIVE
(main source: Zappateer database FZShows, v. 7.1

September-October, 1967 (1st MOI European Tour)

December, 1967-August, 1968 (MOI)

November, 1968-May, 1969 (MOI)

May-August, 1969 (MOI)

May, 1970 (MOI Reunion)

May-July, 1971 (MOI)

October-December, 1973 (MOI) ("Brian Brian")

April-May, 1974 (MOI 10th Anniversary Tour)

September-October, 1974 (MOI European Tour)

October-December, 1974 (MOI) ("Ruthie Ruthie")

April-May, 1975 (MOI with Captain Beefheart) <quoted>

January-February, 1978 (Europe)

March-May, 1980 (North America)

May-July, 1980 (Europe)

October-December, 1980 (North America)

May-July, 1982 (Europe)

Corrections? Updates? Please step right up…

PART FOUR: AFTER-THOUGHTS

The musical output of Frank Zappa is one of the most eclectic collections of sounds to ever emerge from an individual composer. Often trivialized by mainstream media, Mr. Zappa was an intelligent spokesperson for the cause of true freedom, using his music and interviews to pick at the hypocrisies of modern culture. Combining various genres of music, Frank Zappa created music with multiple textures and harmonies, transcending the typical categories that musical scholars tend to dump music into. Never afraid to combine humor with complicated musical arrangements, Frank Zappa was an prolific musical talent who left this planet way too soon.

I would encourage the uninitiated to seek out his music, and his writings, as there was no other person like Frank Zappa.

Long live the spirit of Frank Zappa!

Eric Predoehl
(with lots of help from Denn Simms and Stuart Penney, and a tip of the hat to Jeff “Stretch” Riedle, Gerry Fialka, Chris Perry, Charles Ulrich, Rom·n GarcÌa Albertos, and those that will not be named)

Updated on September 14, 2022

This internet post was originally part of an article originally written for SOCIETY PAGES fanzine in 1996, and has since been altered quite a few times as more information has discovered about this subject.

Here’s the original 1996 article from Society Pages #9:

Click here to read MORE Zappa articles at LouieLouie.net:

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For even more information on FRANK ZAPPA, I would like to encourage you to explore some of the other websites devoted to this man.

The first place to check out on this vast internet is the official website Zappa.com, which is now administrated by Universal Music Group, the new owners of the Zappa estate.

Other great places for the Zappa appreciator include:

Zappa Books (aka afka.net)

Zappa Wiki Jawaka (aka killuglyradio.com)

Information Is Not Knowledge -Frank Zappa & LOUIE LOUIE pages

Frank Zappa’s Musical Language (aka Zappa-Analysis.com)

The Planet of My Dreams (aka fzpomd.net)

The St. Alphonzo’s Pancake Homepage (RIP / 2013 Wayback Machine preserved)

Who Sampled – The Mothers of Invention’s Plastic People sample of Richard Berry and The Pharaohs’s Louie Louie

Dorothy Berry – The World Needs Peace

In the large and colorful story behind the song “Louie Louie,” Dorothy Berry holds a very special role.

When author Richard Berry wrote the song, he conjured up visions of a person sailing a ship all alone, longing to be with the one he loved. At the time he wrote this song, he was involved in a romantic relationship with a beautiful girl from his old high school by the name of Dorothy Adams. As he wrote the lyrics “a fine little girl- she waits for me,” one could easily come to the conclusion that he was likely inspired by his teenage sweetheart. When they decided they would get married, Richard raised money for the wedding by selling what turned out to be his most popular composition. Richard sold the publishing rights to “Louie Louie” and three other songs for $750, and unknowingly made rock and roll history. Who would have ever guessed this song would have taken on such a life of it’s own? Certainly not Richard or Dorothy?

Richard and Dorothy married in 1957, raising two children, Pam and Marcel. Their marriage lasted over ten years, ending in 1968. Inspired by her husband’s musical talents, Dorothy pursued her own path in the music business, beginning as a singer for the girl group, The Idols in the early 1960s. As she gained more expertise as a lead singer, Dorothy Berry was soon groomed as a solo artist, recording for such labels as Garpax, Challenge, Little Star, and Tangerine. After working with a variety of different projects with such artists as Solomon Burke, the Righteous Brothers, and David Gates, Dorothy Berry was offered an opportunity to join Ray Charles as a Raelette. With a chance to see the world with one of the most successful recording artists of all time, Dorothy joined up with Ray Charles to sing on stage and in the studio.

In the early 1980s, Dorothy decided she had spent enough time on the road and retired from the Ray Charles band. After one particular tour in the Middle East, where she witnessed the consequences of war in Lebanon, Dorothy came home to America, noticeably shaken by what she had seen. Horrified by the ravages of war, Dorothy wrote a song she called “The World Needs Peace.”

When she was ready to do something with this song, she turned to her dear friend, ex-husband Richard Berry. Richard loved the song, and agreed to sing it with her as a duet. The song was released as a 45 single that never quite got the attention it deserved and it languished in obscurity.

In the late 80’s, Richard re-recorded the song as “What We Need,” releasing it as one of three songs on a gospel 12″ record on the Blessed label. On this version of the song, all six of his children provided back-up harmony vocals.

Now, approximately thirty years after its initial release, this song is just as relevant today as the day it was written. While Dorothy and Richard are no longer around to sing this song, their message of hope continues to be timeless.

Here’s both versions:


“The World Needs Peace” – the original version by Dorothy Berry featuring Richard Berry


“What We Need” – the gospel remake by Richard Berry with Dorothy Berry and all of his children

As fate would have it, this would be the last Richard Berry recording released during his lifetime.

(article originally shared on March 2011 / revised in September 2022)

___________________________
REFERENCE LINKS:

Discogs – Dorothy Berry featuring Richard Berry – The World Needs Peace / You’re A Sweet Inspiration

Discogs – Richard & Dorothy Berry – The World Needs Peace / Let Your Love Show To Everyone

Discogs – Richard Berry – To The Cross / What We Need

LOUIE REPORT – RIP: Dorothy Berry, high school sweetheart + first wife of Richard

Dorothy Durr Obituary – Hemet, CA – Dignity Memorial

The Ghost Riders List

In 2005, Phil Dirt, one of the organizers of the KFJC Maximum LOUIE LOUIE event, put together a similar marathon to celebrate the various versions of “Ghost Riders In the Sky.”

KFJC DJ Austin Space followed up on this concept, continuing this tradition with similar radio shows in 2001 and 2017.

The last count was 604 versions.

Continue reading The Ghost Riders List

Today – the Anniversary of KFJC Maximum LOUIE LOUIE

Today is August 19th – an important date in the LOUIE Universe!

Many years ago on this date, KFJC a San Francisco Bay area college radio station, began a marathon called “Maximum LOUIE LOUIE” with the sole purpose of playing every known version of the song LOUIE LOUIE.

Regular readers of this website know that this special marathon lasted 63 hours, with over 800 unique versions broadcast over the air waves, setting a new world record. Attending this event was special guest Richard Berry, the songwriter of this song, who’d never experienced anything like this in his life. Richard also met for the first time, a member of the Kingsmen when original vocalist Jack Ely was able to catch a last-minute flight from Portland Oregon to San Francisco to attend this historic event.

As this event was orchestrated by college students and community volunteers, there were some truly inspired moments that would have never happened with a commercial radio station. You could hear it in the diverse musical interpretations of song, ranging from absolute brilliance to the complete opposite of such things.

Today, I want to share some of the entertaining flyers created for the dual purpose of soliciting more recordings and as well promoting the show.

There’s also some chunks of the original marathon you can re-visit, courtesy of YouTube.

(YouTube does not allow the sharing the first hour of the marathon, due to copyright issues. Sorry.)


Hour 2 of KFJC Maximum Louie Louie


Hour 3 of KFJC Maximum Louie Louie


An excerpt of the historic performance of Richard Berry, Jack Ely and the Lady Bo Trio at KFJC Maximum LOUIE LOUIE.

Next year will be a big year anniversary of this event. I’m thinking this could be an excuse to create a much more ambitious version of a marathon, using the powers of the international music community to transform this thing into something much bigger.

What do you think?

Thoughts on Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

I recently had the opportunity to watch the new documentary “Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song.

It’s a very powerful film that documents the career of Mr. Cohen and his most famous musical composition.

As someone that’s also working on a documentary on the story of an iconic song, I couldn’t help but think about the parallel paths of the two songs.

Like LOUIE LOUIE, “Hallelujah” has inspired hundreds, if not thousands of cover versions.

Both songs found widespread acceptance due to a cover version of a cover version. John Cale’s cover of “Hallelujah”was equivalent to Rockin’ Robin’s cover of LOUIE, setting the stage for both Jeff Buckley and the Kingsmen to unintentionally deliver future iconic songs to the masses.

Both songs were restricted. The governor of Indiana asked that radio stations not play LOUIE on the airwaves. Cohen was signed to Columbia Records, but the executives of that label rejected the song “Hallelujah,” making it more difficult for American citizens to hear this music.

Both songs had multiple sets of lyrics – authorized and otherwise adapted/interpreted by third parties.

Leonard Cohen spent many years writing “Hallelujah,” which over the course of at least five years, and many notebooks, was finally unveiled to the public as part of his “Various Positions” album in June 1984

Then, there’s my LOUIE documentary project, which is taking much longer than expected to finish…. (more on that later..)

In the meantime, this new Cohen documentary is highly recommended.

Dee Dee Ramone’s final statement

On the headstone of Dee Dee Ramone (aka Douglas Glenn Colvin), there is one sentence:

“O.K… I gotta go now.”

Seattle Mariners and the LOUIE 7th Inning Stretch

The big LOUIE LOUIE of the week is that the Seattle Mariners are no longer playing LOUIE LOUIE as a seventh inning stretch song.

Zach Mason and Adrianne Leary of SBNation believe that this is a Seattle baseball tradition that absolutely must be preserved!

So it’s devastating to discover that one of the only uniquely Mariners traditions has been broken. We speak, of course, of the replacement of “Louie Louie” during the seventh-inning stretch with Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us.” The Mariners have some other traditions too, sure. Finding the hidden ball, the hydro races, Rick giving us our “happy totals.” But if asked to name a Mariners tradition, the average fan (after a sarcastic “losing”) would almost certainly point to “Louie Louie.” It’s iconic. It’s perfect. And it must be returned.

Larry Stone of Seattle Times also wrote about this situation.

Who would have ever guessed that the biggest talking point of the Mariners’ season so far would be a novelty song with largely unintelligible lyrics that was written in 1955?

Granted, this is not one of the burning issues of our time. Yet it seems to have touched a strong chord — A, D and E minor, I’m told — with fans who poured into T-Mobile Park for the first weekend of home games, and beyond.

When it came to the seventh-inning stretch on opening night, many fans were stunned when “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” ended and “Louie Louie” did not come next, as it had for the previous 32 seasons. That was the case Saturday and Sunday, as well. As I tweeted last month during a spring-training game, unaware of the hornets nest that would be stirred up a few weeks later, “After two decades at Safeco Field/T-Mobile Park, my brain subliminally anticipates ‘Louie Louie‘ the moment ‘Take Me Out To The Ballgame’ ends.”

This particular article also provides a decent overview of how the song was adopted by the Mariners back in 1990, and the movement to bring “new, fresh energy to the ballpark”

I was getting so many questions about this that I went straight to the man himself, Kevin Martinez, the head of Mariners’ marketing. He acknowledged that with regard to the decision to drop “Louie Louie,” the buck stops with him as the senior vice president of marketing and communications. He says that he is well aware of the backlash in some quarters, and that the Mariners will continue to evaluate. And he says that for the foreseeable future, Macklemore will continue to be the seventh-inning-stretch companion, like it or not.

There is a petition to reinstate LOUIE LOUIE as the seventh inning stretch song, which you can view and sign at:
https://www.change.org/p/bring-back-louie-louie-during-the-7th-inning-stretch

As the Seattle Times pointed out…

The Mariners started pairing “Louie Louie” with “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” in the seventh inning at the start of the 1990 season, but it really cemented itself as the official seventh-inning stretch song June 2, 1990, when the Kingsmen were invited to perform live at the Kingdome as a promotion.

I’d love to see footage of that moment!

In the meantime, here’s nice clip of one of those 7th inning moments…

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REFERENCE LINKS:

SBNation – Oh, baby, “Louie Louie” did not have to go
Seattle Times – Here’s why the Mariners aren’t playing ‘Louie Louie’ during the seventh-inning stretch
Change.org petition – Bring Back “Louie Louie” During the 7th Inning Stretch

RIP: Scott Long – musician, promoter, multi-talent

photo by Gary Brewster

Two months ago, we lost our friend Scott Long.



Scott was a larger-than-life kinda guy that made some truly wonderful things happen.

Some of you may remember Scott as one of the primary architects and ringleader for “First Strike,” an alliance of motivated San Jose (CA) musicians in the late 1980s that wanted some attention for their creative endeavors. Others might remember Scott as the New York music promoter that managed Wetlands, the Knitting Factory before becoming the co-founder of the Scenic Presents agency, which orchestrated the first US appearance in 20 years of Throbbing Gristle and the final concert of Big Star, among other things.



Then there were the other paths that Scott also pursued before and after such things – operating a store in the Haight Ashbury; partnering with his First Strike comrades to launch the Petroleum By-Products record label; studying Culinary Arts at Natural Gourmet Institute which led to a career as chef and caterer; and assorted assignments as an energy consultant for a solar company.



On his LinkedIn page, he listed his specialties as “Concert and event production, hyperbole, subliminal messages, public spectacles, and ballyhoo.

”

Considering all the vast talents that Scott had, I’ve always felt that his music, as a singer-songwriter, was the field where he truly excelled.



One of his earliest musical endeavors, before I met him, was a band called the Suburban Kids. As fate would have it, this band submitted a version of LOUIE LOUIE for the KFJC Maximum LOUIE LOUIE marathon (version #609 of the 880+ versions), which was of course, ground zero for this LOUIE documentary project.



Some time after the Suburban Kids, I met Scott when he was part of another band known as Big Hair, a rocking Americana band (before such a label was invented), which I happened to capture on video back in 1985 at the KFJC-IBS sponsored show at the Works Gallery in San Jose.

Here’s a clip of Scott singing lead vocals on their version of “Wild Thing.”



After Big Hair, the Frontier Wives was Scott’s primary musical vehicle for the next few decades.

It was with Frontier Wives where Scott really found his voice, writing some highly original songs with catchy hooks.



Folks offended by rough language would probably hate the Frontier Wives (aka the Frontier F-in’ Wives). They swore like salty pirates, and they drank heavily. If they had to be categorized into any particular genres, they would probably be either “cow-punk” or “country-metal.” Or maybe a bit of both?

Here’s a little warning label I created for some of their videos..

One of my favorite songs by the Frontier F-in’ Wives was “Louis Pasteur,” an absurd revisionist history of the legendary microbiologist, pre-dating the “Drunk History” TV show concept by a few decades where any resemblance of truth would be purely coincidental.


When I spotted my clip of the Frontier Wives 1981 performance of that song on an actual encyclopedia.com page about Louis Pasteur (since removed), Scott was overjoyed by this little aberration and happily mentioned this at all the future Frontier Wives shows



As an appreciator of songs that reference a “LOUIE” theme without sounding like LOUIE LOUIE, this was the type of the song that would join the likes of Louie Go Home, Brother Louie, Louie Quatorze, Meet Me in St. Louis, and St. Louis Blues



Here’s the 1981 clip that appeared in the ‘pedia page..

Here’s a 2010 performance of that song from the Laundry Works reunion show.

Another great Scott Long masterpiece along the same lines was “Elvis Was A Spy,” which Scott and I talked about turning into a proper music video, featuring fast cars, wild women, crazy chase scenes, and of course, an Elvis impersonator…. which sadly never materialized.

… but here’s one I just assembled using footage I’ve shot over the years…

Ace Frehley” was a catchy little tribute to the original Kiss guitar player.

‘Happy” is just that.



After Scott died, I discovered that I had more previously unseen footage of his band than I realized. I decided to assemble and unveil some concert videos to pay tribute to Scott’s musical legacy.

One of the songs that emerged from these videos was a track that was never properly recorded in the studio, or apparently on any other videos.

That song was a track called “Never,” a beautiful song that’s very different than the other Frontier Wives songs.

This is a version of the song from their final concert, which I haven’t unveiled yet.



Here’s another beautiful song that Scott wrote.


It feels like the perfect send-off from a life that he lived …. his way.



We’re gonna miss you a lot, Scott.



(PS: the final Frontier Wives concert videos will be shared soon, I promise. Watch this space!)


________________
Reference Links


:
The Suburban Kids – LOUIE of the Week
Theresa McClure & Big Hair – LOUIE relative of the Week

Frontier Wives (2008 Unplugged Barbershop Quartet)
Frontier Wives (2009 full concert at Blank Club, San Jose)

Frontier Wives (2010 full concert Laundry Works Reunion)




Metro – Votes From the Underground (San Jose Rocks) – Gary Singh (Nov 14, 2007 cover story)

Metro – Frontier Days – Gary Singh (Dec 24, 2008)




SantaCruz.com/GoodTimes- The Wild Frontier – Aaron Carnes (June 1, 2011)
Scott Long’s Linkedin page


Happy Louie Louie Day 2022

Today is International Louie Louie Day and we’re sharing some special treats to celebrate the day!

The plan was to start off with the first three hours of the original KFJC Maximum LOUIE LOUIE marathon, which was the pivotal event that led to the LOUIE documentary project.

 This is the first time we’ve ever shared anything longer than 30 minutes from the original air check tape recordings. These recordings include commentary by disc jockeys Jeff “Stretch” Riedle and Phil Dirt, who are joined by special guest Richard Berry, the author of this legendary song.

KFJC Maximum LOUIE LOUIE photo montage © Eric Predoehl

For many of us, this was truly a life-changing experience.



The first 3 hours were originally broken up into 3 sections, available individually or as a continuous YouTube playlist. Unfortunately, the first hour was blocked worldwide for copyright reasons, and I’m currently trying out some different methods to reconfigure these particular archival recordings, which I’ll be updating throughout the day.

The continuous YouTube playlist, your best option for listening, will also include other recordings from that very LOUIE LOUIE weekend at KFJC Radio, which includes an abbreviated video edit of the once-in-a-lifetime performance of Richard Berry performing with original Kingsmen singer Jack Ely for the first and only time, backed by the Lady Bo Trio.

This playlist won’t be the full 63 hour / 800+ version experience, but it will provide a nice condensed sampling of that unique marathon.

Each of the individual KFJC Maximum LOUIE LOUIE archival clips have a playlist in the description with clickable time marks for every LOUIE performance.

KFJC Maximum LOUIE LOUIE – Hour 02

KFJC Maximum LOUIE LOUIE – Hour 03

KFJC Maximum Louie Louie 1983 marathon playlist
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLd4o4rDrB7L3jS5QCgTng8J37-KE-cw4C

Today, we’re also sharing three very special LOUIE clips to celebrate.

At the top of this list is an exclusive performance of “Louie Louie Blues” by Laurel Ganesha Wolfe, who is a dear friend of the man we hold responsible for these marathons – our pal Jeff “Stretch’ Riedle, who graciously shared this priceless performance, created to honor his dedication to this very special obsession / collection.

Following that clip, we are also sharing a unique performance featuring the late, great Carol Doda, the exotic dancer from San Francisco who was credited with triggering a nationwide topless revolution in the USA during the swinging 1960’s. In this particular TV news clip, dated October 30, 1993, Carol is a special guest judge for a fundraising “stripping contest” for the homeless community in San Francisco, which features a special performance of LOUIE LOUIE.



Last but not least, we’re recycling the 4+ hour video from the recent Louie Louie Marathon of Wynantskill, NY that took place on March 27th a few weeks ago.

As the day continues, we’ll update this page to share details on other festivities taking place on this very special day!



For more details on INTERNATIONAL LOUIE LOUIE DAY, please visit the LouieLouie.net 2007 comic strip explanation pages

.. or visit…
LouieDay.org

Thank you, UPI !!!

REFERENCE LINKS:
Happy International LOUIE LOUIE Day (2007)
Memories of KFJC Maximum LOUIE LOUIE
The Maximum LOUIE LOUIE list
KFJC Maximum Louie Louie 1983 marathon playlist
UPI article on International LOUIE LOUIE Day (April 2022)

RIP: Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters

It’s a shock to learn that we lost Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters.

I never met the man, but it seems like everyone who met him just loved this guy.

The bond between Taylor and his Foo Fighter bandmate /leader David Grohl was a special thing to behold. Hawkins joined Foo Fighters in 1997, three years after Grohl created the group upon the disbanding of Nirvana. They became virtual musical twins – two multi-talented musicians that started off as drummers, but wound up doing so much more than that.

As this is the LouieLouie.net site, the webpage that celebrates “all things LOUIE LOUIE,” it seemed appropriate that we should acknowledge Taylor’s “Soundtrack Of My Life” 2016 article for New Music Express, where he discussed the songs that shaped his life.

The first song I remember hearing – The Kingsmen – LOUIE LOUIE

“I remember this one song as a kid and it 
just scared the s**t out 
of me. ‘Louie Louie’ or something… I don’t know, there’s just something in their voices that sounded evil to me.”

Another thing to note is that Taylor Hawkins was also an actor that played the role of Iggy Pop in the 2013 CBGB docudrama.

Iggy Pop, is of course, a legend in the LOUIE LOUIE universe, as his live 1974 recording of the song, released on the Metallic K.O. album was the first explicitly naughty (as opposed to questionably naughty) version ever released. Iggy also had the distinction of having his second album with the Stooges produced by Don Gallucci, the original keyboard player with the Kingsmen.

I have yet to find a Foo Fighters version of LOUIE LOUIE, but I’m thinking maybe it’ll turn up somewhere…

Anyways, our thoughts go out to the family and friends of Taylor Hawkins.

Reference Links:
NME: Soundtrack Of My Life: Taylor Hawkins
People Magazine – Inside Foo Fighter Dave Grohl’s 25-Year Bond with Taylor Hawkins
Wikipedia: CBGB (film)