The Kingsmen (without Jack Ely) – LOUIE of the Week

I’ve been giving Jack Ely a lot of attention to this blog lately, so I thought I’d give some attention to the band that parted ways with him.

The Kingsmen had the big hit with “LOUIE LOUIE” in 1963, but they never actually toured with the original singer. There was a big argument between Lynn Easton and Jack Ely, and things were never the same after that particular confrontation. Jack quit the band, and tried to rejoin the band a few months later, after discovering that their $$38 recording of the song somehow became a big hit on the national charts. Lynn decided he never wanted to work with Jack again, and leaped into the limelight as the leader and primary singer for the Kingsmen.

Things got a pretty ugly between the two parties. The Kingsmen became very successful, releasing more records, touring all over the country, and appearing on various television shows, lip-synching to their big hit. Jack decided he wanted to get a piece of the action, so he went out on the road as “Jack Ely & the Kingsmen,” often performing in the same town the other Kingsmen were scheduled to play, creating a bit of chaos for the fans.

Ultimately, Jack was sued by the Kingsmen, and forbidden by court order to use the “Kingsmen” name. The Kingsmen were also ordered by the court to stop lip-synching to the original recording. If the Kingsmen were to perform “LOUIE LOUIE” on any television show, they could no longer use Jack Ely’s voice as part of the performance.

This week’s LOUIE OF THE WEEK is a rare television clip of the Kingsmen performing “LOUIE LOUIE” live in the TV studio without any lip-synching. Lynn Easton is doing all the singing, and it’s quite different from the original version with Jack Ely’s voice. Even the keyboards sound different, as Barry Curtis had replaced Don Gallucci as the keyboardist.

In spite of the personnel changes, the Kingsmen had a very good run with their career, and they still continue to perform today. In 1964, they had a big hit with a semi-original song “Jolly Green Giant”, which made it to #4 on the Billboard charts. In 1965, they appeared in a beach party movie called “How To Stuff A Wild Bikini.” The Association of Promoters and Ballroom Operators voted the Kingsmen as “Number One Touring Act in 1965.” In the course of their career, they released at least seven different albums (not including compilations).

Of course, the Kingsmen did very well by becoming the first recording act to successfully sue for ownership of their recordings for lack of royalty payments.

They had quite a legacy, and I’m looking forward to sharing more stories about them in my upcoming documentary.

In the meantime, you can find out more about this iconic band by going to their official website at: LouieLouie.org.

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