When Eric Predoehl met songwriter Richard Berry back in the mid-80s, he had no idea he’d be spending such a big chunk of his life piecing together a massive documentary on Richard’s most famous creation – LOUIE LOUIE!
It all began at KFJC Radio in Los Altos Hills California – a radio station based at Foothill College that had engaged in a friendly rivalry with KALX Radio in Berkeley, another community station based in the San Francisco Bay Area. A few years earlier, one of the disc jockeys at KFJC decided to play an hour-an-a-half of LOUIE LOUIE during a graveyard shift. When someone at KALX heard about this radio show, they decided to repeat this experience, but expanded the
concept to a two-and-a-half hour program. Not to be outdone, KFJC followed up with a four-hour show, setting the stage for a uniquely inspired competition.
After KALX produced a 24 hour LOUIE LOUIE marathon, the staff of KFJC decided to produce a more ambitious event that would be known as “Maximum LOUIE LOUIE.” They would spend a half a year to assemble this event, soliciting new versions or the song from a wide variety of musicians, and use all of the available tools of the media to promote this event. KFJC also collaborated with a then-young record label Rhino Records to create a “Best of LOUIE LOUIE” compilation album that would be released on the first day of this marathon.
Eric Predoehl, a film / journalism student that provided photos for the KFJC program guide, thought this might be a great event to document, and borrowed some public access video equipment to capture this moment for posterity.
This turned out to an event that transcended many expectations. On the opening night of August 19, 1983, it seems like every local TV channel with a news department had a news crew crammed into the KFJC studios. Richard Berry, the man who wrote the song, was the star attraction, invited as a special guest of honor at this event. At the time, he was struggling to survive, receiving welfare checks, and taking data entry courses, as his songwriting royalties just weren’t enough to live on.
On the first night, KFJC was able to conduct an interview with Jack Ely, the original vocalist from the Kingsmen that quit the band before LOUIE LOUIE became a hit record. Within 24 hours, Jack was able to fly to California from Oregon, and be part of this special event, which turned out to be the first time Richard and Jack ever met, culminating with an epic 45 minute performance of the song, backed by the Lady Bo Band (Bo Diddley’s backup band).
The marathon lasted 63 hours with over 800 unique versions of LOUIE LOUIE.
Eric Predoehl was the only person with the foresight to videotape this historic event during the long hours of all three nights, capturing unique footage of the inspired pandemonium.
The event left him with an indelible impression, inspiring him to dig deeper to research the full history of this song. In 1984, Eric Predoehl requested a copy of the FBI investigation of the song LOUIE LOUIE, which was made available courtesy of the Freedom of Information Act.
Eric has also helped Ace Records of London in securing the ownership of the master recordings of Flip Records of Los Angeles – the first record label from which LOUIE LOUIE was originally shared. Ace has also shared the love by giving a heartfelt and unexpected title to track #26, a previously unnamed instrumental recording on the Richard Berry “Yama Yama” CD (CDCHD 1029).
In the late 1980’s, Eric Predoehl linked up with fellow video producer Jesse Block, and they’ve been collaborating together on this project ever since. Together they formed Octalouie, a company created to produce unique video programming with an emphasis on music-related projects. In the course of their alliance, they’ve worked on a variety of programs involving such talents as John Lee Hooker, Jerry Garcia, Hot Tuna, the Smithereens, Dave Brubeck, Todd Rundgren, Dan Hicks, Bill Haley’s Original Comets, the Del Rubio Triplets and a lot of other very important people.
They are also collaborating on a documentary on KSAN Radio of San Francisco (Jessie is the director / cinematographer and Eric is an associate producer / camera guy)
While others have attempted over the years to produce similar productions of the song LOUIE LOUIE, this documentary is the only production of its kind authorized by Richard Berry and his estate. This documentary will stand as a tribute to Richard Berry, and his most famous creation.
This documentary shall showcase …
– The Legend of the World’s Most Misunderstood Garage Rock Song.
– The story of Richard Berry, a humble man who wrote one of the most-recorded musical compositions of all time.
– An Introduction to the amazing regional rock and roll music scene of the Pacific Northwest during the early 1960’s, including the Wailers, Rockin Robin Roberts, Little Bill & the Bluenotes, the Playboys, Dave Lewis, the Frantics, the Sonics, Paul Revere & the Raiders, and many other musical talents.
– The astonishing tale of the Kingsmen- a story of how two childhood buddies created a musical group during high school, recorded a little demo of a catchy little song, had a major break-up, and then somehow wound up with a major hit- record!
– The tale of the two Louies of Portland – the two bands that recorded their version of the song a week apart in the same recording studio, both had a KISN disc jockey as manager, and wound up selling millions of records in the course of their careers.
– The lost stories behind the controversial lyrics – the Indiana governor that tried to remove this song from the airwaves; the two mysterious teenagers whose letters to an elected official set the stage for government action; the prominent disc jockey whose actions to identify this song as the “world ‘s worst record” transformed it into a massive hit; and the legendary two year investigation of this song conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation
– The amazing enduring phenomena of garage rock; the commercialization of rock and roll; the social significance of popular music; and the three chords heard around the world.
– A true legend stranger than fiction; an American rock and roll story.
A documentary that has taken longer than ever expected, but still on track for completion in the near future.
– ERIC PREDOEHL + JESSE BLOCK (producer-directors)