Jack Ely, the original vocalist for the Kingsmen's 1963 recording of "Louie Louie" is available for very special events.
Depending on who you listen to, The Kingsmen recorded the
song as a demo for a job on a cruise liner, or were coerced into a recording
studio by a local disc jockey Ken Chase, who thought he could produce a "monster
hit." Either way, the band originally thought the original recording was
pure garbage, and were equally disgusted when they discovered they had to pay
the $50 recording fee!!
As with many bands, this group of teenagers lost their original line-up when lead singer Jack Ely left the group to concentrate on attending college. When the song became the run-away hit, accelerated by constant airplay in Boston, of all places, Jack Ely tried to talk his old-time childhood pal, Lynn Easton, the leader of the band, into letting him rejoin the band. "Nothing doing," said Easton, and Ely was never again a part of the Kingsmen. From this point on, things became complicated, as Ely toured around the country as Jack Ely and The Kingsmen, and the Kingsmen performed on television shows, with Lynn Easton lip-synching to the voice of his former bandmate
After some legal proceeding brought on by his old band mates, Jack was forbidden by court order to use the name Jack Ely and he Kingsmen. He renamed his group Jack Ely & the Courtmen, which continued to tour regularly until 1967, when Jack was drafted to serve in the miltary.
Meanwhile, the song "Louie Louie" somehow become the subject of a special F.B.I. investigation, as there was major concern that this song contained potentially obscene lyrics. Harassed by government officials, The Kingsmen used this controversy to their fullest advantage, as kids around America passed around handwritten notes with what they thought were the supposedly filthy lyrics.
Thirty-some years after their last public peformance, Jack reunited with his old bandmates in 1999 to do a special Courtmen reunion show in Seaside, Oregon. Since this special show, the band has been peforming off and on at different fun events around the country.
Eric Predoehl's Seaside Reunion Photo Montage
Jack Ely & Courtmen group shot- the 1999 photograph by E.P.
Jack Ely & Courtmen group shot- the 1966 (?) photograph
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