by Eric Predoehl
first posted September 17, 2001 (all rights reserved)
IN MEMORY OF THE FALLEN, or
ROCK AND ROLL HEAVEN BUILDS AN EXPANSION SITE
As time marches on, invariably, we lose more musicians
to the big nightclub in the sky, and music lovers on
this great planet earth are forced to track down old
recordings to hear the music we love While I didn't
want to list all of the great entertainers we've lost
over the past 6 months, there were a few that I felt
needed to be recognized by LOUIELOUIE.NET.
Pat Mason was one of the most influential booking
agents in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, Elvis Presley,
Johnny Cash, and Richard Berry could all
thank Pat Mason for setting up their very first shows
in that region, as well as countless other musicians
too numerous to mention. Willie Nelson was hired
by Pat as a disc jockey for a radio station in Vancouver,
Washington. Gene Vincent spent a year living
in Pat Mason's house in Seaside, Oregon. Paul Revere
& the Raiders hired Pat Mason as a tour manager
when they became big rock stars. When Jack Ely left
the Kingsmen, it was Pat Mason that talked Jack
into assembling "Jack Ely & the Kingsmen"
to cash in on the public appetite for "Louie Louie."
Pat Mason was a very important man in the Pacfic Northwest,
and he lived to the grand age of 90 years old. Pat provided
plenty of information for THE MEANING OF LOUIE, and
those that knew him will miss him dearly.
You can read all about Pat's amazing career at the
Rockabilly Hall of Fame page.
Michael "Smitty" Smith was the drummer
for Paul Revere and the Raiders from 1962 until
1967. One of the earliest, if not the first rock group
on Columbia Records, Paul Revere & the Raiders sold
40 million records for the label, providing the Beatles
and the Rolling Stones with some serious competition
in the 1960s. Their first single for Columbia was their
rendition of "Louie Louie," which was actually
more popular in certain regions, than the Kingsmen's
version, which was recorded the same week in the same
Portland, Oregon recording studio. Providing an American
answer to the British invasion, Paul Revere & the
Raiders were true pioneers for the music video revolution,
some twenty years before the birth of MTV. With madcap
antics inspired by the Marx Brothers, Revere
& the Raiders reached into the living rooms of millions
of teenagers with their television show "Where
the Action Is."
By all accounts, Michael "Smitty" Smith provided
some great comic relief in the band, as both the source
and instigator of many practical jokes. Everyone that
knew him had nothing but praise for him as a fine human
being that truly cared about others. In my research
on LOUIE LOUIE, his name came up many times, but unfortunately,
I never had a chance to meet him. There are some excellent
words written about him at a special tribute page at
the official Paul Revere & the Raiders page, and
various fan pages. I encourage all fans to explore these
At the official Paul Revere & the Raiders
site, there's also some information about Paul Revere's
recent efforts in honoring Vietnam veterans. Ostracized
like lepers for participating in a controversial war
that split this country apart, the men and women who
served their country were never given a hero's welcome
for their sacrifices. While thousands of soldiers died
on the front lines, thousands of other veterans suffered
from shell shock nightmares aggravated by a country
that ignored their existence. This year Paul Revere
took heart in these forgotten soldiers, and did two
very important things for their cause. First, he assembled
his band to record a benefit album featuring songs from
the 1960s not originally performed by his band and used
whatever profits he made from the sales of this album
to support veteran's causes. Second, Paul Revere jumped
on his Harley, and rode across America, stopping off
at various towns across the country to let folks know
that someone still cares about these forgotten soldiers.
From Seattle to Washington DC, Paul Revere spread the
word of his mission, culminating with a grand concert
at the Washington Memorial on Memorial Day. For that
weren't able to make it out to this wonderful tribute,
Paul Revere continues to promote this cause at each
of his concerts. All net proceeds from the sale of these
items will be donated to the Ride To The Wall Foundation,
a non-profit organization making funds available to
various approved veteran's outreach programs.
Johnny Flamingo was a dear friend
of Richard Berry, and another fine human being
that we lost too soon. As a member of the Five Criterions,
the Dots, and as a solo artist, Johnny, whose real
name was Melvin Moore, had a very colorful recording
career. Richard Berry provided uncredited backup vocals
for three of Johnny's solo singles- "Paradise Hill"
(Specialty 640), "You're Mine" (Caddy 4175/
Donna 1357), and "I" (Canton 1785). His wife,
Jeanette Baker, who was also a member of the
Dots, shared a long, loving relationship that was an
exception in the entertainment industry.
Johnny Flamingo died the day before Xmas last year.
I met Johnny in February when I flew down to one of
the DooWop shows put on by DooWop Society in
Long Beach. His wife Jeanette Baker was there, and they
performed some of their old songs together. His hits
were "Is It a Dream," "You're Mine,"
and "Paradise Hill." Her biggest hit was a
song she co-wrote called "Hey Boy- Hey Girl,"
later recorded by Louis Prima. Johnny & Jeanette
didn't originally perform the song together, but they
did that night, and they did it fabulously. Both Johnny
& Jeanette were dear friends of Richard Berry, and
I had a wonderful time talking with them. Very sweet
people. I am honored that they provided me with a warm
interview for my MEANING OF LOUIE documentary.
The great John Lee Hooker has also passed on to
the great beyond. He joins his peers Muddy Waters,
Howling Wolf, and Willie Dixon. In 1995,
I was part of a television crew hired to shoot an interview
at Hooker's house. For me this was truly an amazing
moment in my life, as I couldn't believe I was getting
paid to be at the home of this great legend. I had shot
footage of John Lee Hooker before, providing extremely
close handheld shots for a multi-cam production at Sweetwater
(famous Mill Valley nightclub), but the opportunity
to visit his home was truly a humbling experience. I
regret that I failed to photograph his kitchen, as I
loved seeing all those "hooker" clippings
attached to his refrigerator!
One might argue that his 1951 recording "Louise"
was a pre-cursor to Richard Berry's 1955 composition
"LOUIE LOUIE (released in 1957)," but that's
a bit of a stretch. Trivia buffs might appreciate the
fact that the Bihari Brothers provided the first
record label contracts for both Richard Berry and John
Lee Hooker. Richard was on RPM, and John Lee was on
Ed Wells was the leader of the Six Teens,
one of the top recording acts on the FLIP label,
which was the original home for Richard Berry's LOUIE
LOUIE. With family, friends, and Catholic high school
in common, six teenagers in the Los Angeles region joined
together to create music in the mid 1950s. One of Ed's
compositions, "A Casual Look," charted in
the national Top 40 charts in 1956. The band broke up
in the 1960s, and recently reunited in 1998, but unfortunately,
Ed's health prevented him from participating in this
event. You can read one of the last interviews with
Ed Wells at the DooWop Society webpage at http://www.doowopsociety.com.
As far as I know, Joey Ramone never recorded
"Louie Louie," but his embracement of 3-chord
rock inspired an entire genre of rock music. When people
talk about the birth of punk rock, the Ramones are usually
sited as the biggest influence, having directly inspired
the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Patti Smith,
the Damned, and countless others to pick up a
guitar and make some exhilarating sounds. Rejecting
the then-current musical genres of disco music and progressive
rock, the Ramones took rock and roll back to it's simplistic
roots, all while continuing the rock 'n' roll tradition
of annoying one's parents.
One of the things I loved about the Ramones was their
twisted sense of humor, whether it made fun of glue
sniffing, lobotomies, the Ku Klux Klan, or Ronald Reagan
paying to tribute to a bunch of dead Nazis. Before the
Ramones, who would ever guessed that someone could have
written a catchy little song about wanting to be sedated?
It's going to be a sadder place without these guys.
A SUGGESTION TO IMPROVE AMERICA
America lost a fresh voice in celebrity politics when
John F. Kennedy Jr. made a fateful decision to
fly his plane one particular night in 1999. While not
a politician per say, JFK Jr. provided an interesting
political forum with his magazine George, which
addressed American politics with an entertaining blend
of pop culture and policy analysis. Unlike other political
magazines that were either "conservative"
or "liberal", George wasn't afraid to offer
a wide variety of opinions from different individuals.
In fact, it was in George magazine that I encoutnered
an intelligent interview with Dan Quayle, the
former vice president whose antics provided plenty of
fodder for late night television hosts.
One of the great spin-off products from George magazine
was a little book entitled "250 Ways To Make America
Better," which was published by Random House in
1999. With a diverse assortment of American personalities
providing their opinions, we're able to read comments
by Michael Moore, John McCain, Sean
"Puffy" Combs, Ross Perot, Tammy
Fae Messmer, Denis Leary, Pete Seeger,
Larry King, Pat Robertson, and Suzie
Bright, to name but a few.
When I ran across item #58 on page 70, a little paragraph
written by Pat O'Brien, noted sports/entertainment
anchor, I knew I found a kindred spirit. Once again,
I stumble upon another mention of LOUIE LOUIE, without
even trying. Here's Pat O'Brien's suggestion on how
to transform America into a better place:
"Jukeboxes. Bring them
back with 45-rpm records (big holes) and five selections
for a quarter. Put them inside every lonely saloon
along every blue highway.... and have them available
to everyone who's in love, and especially those who
are not. Jukeboxes are cheaper than therapy. Selection
J-3: 'LOUIE LOUIE.' Because hey, 'We gotta go.'"
This book is out of print, and the magazine shut down
this year after six years of publication, so it'll be
a challenge to track down this amusing booklet. With
a little luck, you might be able to find a used copy
at your local independent bookstore. Take a look out
there, and maybe you'll get lucky!
THE LOUIE LOUIE PARTY ON YAHOO
This newsletter skims the surface of the LOUIE LOUIE
universe. There is so much more going on in terms of
rare recordings, unusual stories, and surprising trivia
on this very special song. My emphasis is on gathering
as much as I can, as I assemble the ever-comprehensive
documentary. If you would like to subscribe to a special
discussion group where this song is discussed in greater
detail, I'd like to invite you to something called "The
Louie Louie Party," sponsored by Yahoo Groups.
For details on this on this and other subscriptions
and discussion groups offered by LouieLouie.Net, go
to the LouieLouie.Net Subsription
In closing, my thoughts and prayers go out to all
that have lost loved ones during these very trying times.
This has not been an easy time for Americans.
Me gotta go now,
September 17, 2001
Backtrack with the LOUIE
NEWS. go back....
All images & words
copyright 1999-2001 Eric Predoehl / OCTALOUIE, LLC,
except as noted. All rights reserved. The term "LOUIE
LOUIE" is a registered trademark of RMB, Inc, a
company owned by The Kingsmen, the band recognized for turning
the song into the monster icon heard all over the world.