RIP: Paul Harris, photographer

We recently lost yet another fine individual that’s collaborated with the LOUIE documentary project. Paul Harris, an exceptional photographer with a long career of documenting a ton of rock and roll, blues, R&B, country and rockabilly music performances, passed away after a long illness on April 12th, a few days short of his 81st birthday. Apparently, he developed a spinal cord illness which severely restricted his mobility, then wound up with colon cancer, which made things even worse.

Here’s a photo of Paul Harris with his favorite musician – Fats Domino.

I never met Paul in person, but I was certainly aware of his legacy of great photographs in such magazines as Blues and Rhythm, Juke Blues, and Blue Suede News. It wasn’t until I saw a few photos that Paul took of Richard Berry‘s 1993 UK visit as part of an article in Now Dig This magazine that I realized I needed to reach out to him.

I’m so grateful I did that. Paul had the greatest photos I’ve ever seen of Richard’s Hemsby performance, and as beautiful as the images were in the printed NDT magazine, it couldn’t compare to seeing the full raw scans of the photos that Paul shared with me.

Incredible stuff.

Paul’s family – his son Kevin and his wife Veronica, have granted me permission to share a couple of these photos on this website.

As I was doing some research of Paul’s life, I found this little bio on his life in the Encyclopedia of the Blues, a 1992 book written by Gerard Herzhaft, who also gave me permission to share this:

THE PHOTOGRAPHERS
PAUL HARRIS

Paul Harris has been photographing music-related subjects for twenty years and is a regular contribu­tor to magazines such as, Juke Blues (UK), Living Blues (USA), Blues & Rhythm (UK), ]efferson (Sweden), and Now Dig This (UK). 

Living in Worthjng, West Sussex, on the south coast of England, he has covered events in England, Wales, Holland, France, Belgium, and Italy and visited Louisiana, Texas, and New York.

There arc family ties with both show business and photography. It is said that Paul’s grandfather, as a young man, played piano from a horse-drawn cart in the Kennington area of London while a young Charlie Chaplin husked on the pavement (sidewalk). That same grandfather was to become a photographer, while Charlie went on to greater things. A great-aunt was an actress on London’s West End stage, and Paul’s mother worked in the photography business, so a camera was always around. Paul’s older son is now an actor.

A high point of Paul’s career was photograph­ing and interviewing his main man, Fats Domino, and having Fats invite him into the Domino home in New Orleans in 1989.

Paul’s work is also represented by Getty Images.

Thank you again, Paul for your fantastic work.

You shall not be forgotten!

Reference Links:
Blues and Rhythm – Paul Harris obituary
Getty Images – Paul Harris Archives
Paul Harris Blogspot page
Gerard Herzhaft official website

RIP: Mike Mitchell of the Kingsmen

Yesterday, we lost Mike Mitchell of the Kingsmen.

Mike Mitchell was a founding member of the Kingsmen. Mike grew up in a musical family, and learned how to play guitar from his father, who was a country western musician.

Mike’s career in music began with a collaboration with Lynn Easton, a schoolmate from David Douglas High School in Portland, Oregon. Lynn invited Mike to join him in a musical group he started with his childhood friend Jack Ely, who attended Washington High School in another district of Portland. When the three of them decided they needed a bass player, they enlisted Bob Nordby, another musician from David Douglas High School. When they needed a name for this group, they used the name of Mike’s after-shave lotion = Kings Men!

in the course of time, the Kingsmen became a very popular teenage music group in Portland during the early 1960s, somehow lining up sponsorship deals from a variety of different vendors including Ken-L Ration Dog Food and the Hood River food company.

One of their more rewarding alliances was becoming the house band for The Chase nightclub, a teenage dance venue run by KISN DJ Ken Chase (aka Mike Korgan). Prior to this engagement, the Kingsmen brought in a dynamic young keyboard player named Don Gallucci (four years younger than the rest of the band), and they discovered a really catchy new song sung by someone named Rockin’ Robin Roberts, whose 45 was getting some serious attention at a jukebox in a place called the Pypo Club in Seaside, Oregon. With an energetic nudge from the Pypo Club, and an inspired musical rearrangement of this song by their new keyboardist, the Kingsmen discovered and embraced this catchy little number called “Louie Louie.”

As the house band of The Chase nightclub, it seemed like a good idea for the Kingsmen to record a record, as it would generate a bigger crowd as they could be marketed as “recording artists.” The Kingsmen thought this new song would be a great one to record. Head honcho Ken Chase also loved the song, but he didn’t think the band was ready yet. After what seemed like quite a few months of performances of that song at The Chase, Ken decided the band was ready, and scheduled a recording session with the Kingsmen at a local recording studio. Ken Chase’s actions were not fully appreciated that day. He got into a heated argument with Robert Lindahl, the recording studio owner/chief engineer about how he wanted the performance to sound, and even the Kingsmen thought it was a terrible recording.

Unbeknownst to everyone, the recording of LOUIE LOUIE by the Kingsmen somehow took off on a life of it’s own. Ken Chase arranged for this recording to be represented and released by Jerry Dennon, who operated a small record label known as Jerden in Seattle, Washington. Through a series of unexpected flukes, this recording became an unlikely hit as it broke the record charts as one of the “world’s worst records,” as discovered by Boston Dj Arnie Ginsburg, which in turn, inspired the governor of Indiana to try to repress the broadcast of this recording, which in turn led to a two year investigation by the F.B.I. over some deeply controversial and absolutely undecipherable lyrics.

LOUIE LOUIE was the unlikely hit record that caught everybody off guard. Prior to the runaway success, both Jack Ely and Bob Nordby left the band, as they were frustrated by the direction of the band, which they didn’t think had much of a future. After a month of touring with this now very popular band, Don Gallucci dropped out of the band as his parents demanded that he quit the band so he could complete his high school education. By the end of 1963, Mike Mitchell and Lynn Easton were the only original band members still in the band. The new version of Kingsmen was signed to the Wand Sceptor record label, and represented by William Morris, the top talent agency in the USA. They released 9 albums and had 26 charted singles*.

Sometime in 1967, Lynn Easton left the Kingsmen, leaving Mike as the last original member of the Kingsmen. Eventually, the Kingsmen stopping playing altogether, reuniting a few times in the 1970s with Mike joined by Dick Peterson and Barry Curtis, who became members of the Kingsmen in late 1963. After the runaway success of the “Animal House” feature film, which inspired renewed interest of LOUIE LOUIE and toga party celebrations in 1978, the Kingsmen became a full fledged band once again.

In the course of time, the Kingsmen and LOUIE LOUIE have received a wealth of accolades – The Rock Hall of Fame – Hall of Fame Singles, a “lifetime Achievement award” from the Grammys, the “40 Songs That Changed The World” + “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” from Rolling Stone magazine, and a ton of other awards (with an exhaustive list shared on Wikipedia)

In 2005, the Kingsmen changed once again. The Kingsmen had been playing together for 27 continuous years since their 1978 reunion. The three core members – Mike, Dick and Barry, had been performing as the Kingsmen for multiple decades longer than the initial four year run of the original Kingsmen group that was formed in 1959. At that point in time, Barry Curtis decided to retire from the Kingsmen, and Mike’s brother Dennis Mitchell stepped in to join the band, as the Kingsmen continued to perform for another fifteen years.

I was fortunate to see Mike and the Kingsmen at the Animal House 40 anniversary event that took place in August 2018 in Cottage Grove, Oregon. They sounded fantastic!

Yesterday – April 16th, 2021 was Mike’s 77th birthday, and the day that he died of a heart attack.

He is survived by his two children Samantha and Max.

Our thoughts go out to the family and friends of our dear associate Mike Mitchell.

– E.P. of LouieLouie.net

Here’s couple of extra things to celebrate Mike’s legacy..


This track is one of the few times where Mike sang lead on a Kingsmen record.

Here’s a photo of three original Kingsmen – reuniting at a Buck Munger party for Billy Gibbons.


Here’s a video clip of the band THE CRY, featuring Mike as a special guest.

* = referenced from Kingsmen press release.

It’s International LOUIE LOUIE Day 2021

Today is April 11 – International LOUIE LOUIE Day!

Richard Berry, author of this song, would have been 86 years old today.

Last night at KFJC radio, the place where the Maximum LOUIE LOUIE marathon (63 hours, over 800 unique versions) took place many years ago, there was a re-broadcast of a 4 hour radio special that took place 10 years ago with myself, Jeff “Stretch” Riedle, Robyn “Nikki Teen” Braverman and the late Pete Dixon (aka Roy Ross).

As KFJC has a rolling two week archive, you can listen to this show for the next two weeks by visiting
https://kfjc.org/listen/archives

Today, as part of the celebration of International LOUIE LOUIE Day, the New Shockwaves released a brand new performance of LOUIE LOUIE, hot off the griddle within the past 24 hours!

The New Shockwaves are Jeff “Stretch” Riedle (that guy again) on drums, Bill Bortin on bass and Mitch Bramlett on guitar.

Last Wednesday, DJ Odd Monster of Freeform Portland (a radio station based in the Oregon city where both the Kingsmen and Paul Revere & the Raiders recorded that iconic song) shared a special 2 hour program to also celebrate today’s festivities. You can hear that show by visiting.. .

Odd Monster added..
“Happy International Louie Louie Day! You probably saw I broadcast a two hour Louie Louie show earlier this week. If that wasn’t enough, here’s the show from a couple years ago featuring completely different covers!”

If you have a LOUIE t-shirt, today is a wonderful day to wear it.

Here’s a great example of a LOUIE T-shirt shared by our friend Kike Louie, who not only produced The First Louie Louie Spanish Compilation, but also ran the LOUIE LOUIE Bar in Madrid (1990-2015), followed by the LOUIE LOUIE Cafe in Gijón, Spain.

Ada Crow is modeling this fine LOUIE LOUIE shirt.

If you know of any other LOUIE LOUIE events today, or would like to share a fun photo of a LOUIE LOUIE t-shirt, please a comment to this blog post or visit the LOUIE LOUIE Party at Facebook!

– E.P. of LouieLouie.net

The Return of the Return the Invasion of MAXIMUM LOUIE LOUIE 2011 radio show

KFJC international LL Day show – E.P., Jeff Riedle, Robyn Bravernman and Pete Dixon

In less than three hours, in celebration of International LOUIE LOUIE Day, there will be a special replay of the “The Return of the Invasion of MAXIMUM LOUIE LOUIE” radio show that took place ten years ago on KFJC Radio.

DJ Pete Dixon (aka Roy Ross), who passed away less than a year ago, was the host for a special program entitled “The Return of the Invasion of MAXIMUM LOUIE LOUIE,” which featured Jeff “Stretch” Riedle (instigator of the KFJC LOUIE marathons), Robyn “Nikki Teen” Braverman, and yours truly.

KFJC Radio (Los Altos Hills, California) was ground zero for the LOUIE LOUIE documentary project. That was the place for the 63 hour “Maximum LOUIE LOUIE” marathon in Los Altos, California. A lot of things took place at this event as songwriter Richard Berry met original Kingsmen vocalist Jack Ely for the first time, over 800 unique versions of the song LOUIE LOUIE were played at this event, and the seeds were planted for a rather ambitious project.

The re-broadcast will take place from midnight 12am until 4am.

If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can tune in via regular radio at 89.7 FM, or you can listen in to anywhere in the world via streaming.

Official details at KFJC 98.7 Facebook page.

Click on KFJC.org for streaming instructions.

The celebration for LOUIE LOUIE Day continues .. with more to come…

– E.P. of LouieLouie.net

REFERENCE:

RIP: Roy Ross / Pete Dixon of KFJC Radio
KFJC Radio – official Facebook Page
KFJC 89.7 FM Alumni – Facebook Group
Louie Report – The Return of the Invasion of MAXIMUM LOUIE LOUIE (April 2011)

Thoughts on Billie Holiday

photo by William P. Gottlieb*

Today, April 7, 2021 is the 106th birthday of an extraordinary individual named Eleanora Fagan that became a jazz singer known as Billie Holiday. She was a music stylist unlike any other singer before her. In 1958, a year before she passed, Frank Sinatra referred to her as “unquestionably the most important influence on American popular singing in the last twenty years.” Over sixty years after her passing, her legacy continues, where even rappers like Kanye West are sampling her music.

For the past few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about Billie Holiday. I’ve always been fascinated by her life and music, and was excited that she was the subject of two prominent movies that were recently released.

The first of the two films – “Billie” is a documentary built around some previously unheard audio interviews conducted by Linda Lipnack Kuehl, who was working on a comprehensive biography on Billie Holiday before her untimely death in 1978. Ms. Kuehl was a journalist and high school teacher that interviewed close to 200 people that knew Ms. Holliday. Sadly, Ms. Kuehl never finished her book, but she did some remarkable work, assembling a massive archive that included her raw interview audiotapes, as well as “police files, transcripts of court cases, royalty statements, shopping lists, hospital records, private letters, muddled transcripts and fragments of unfinished chapters.” (NY Times June 15, 2005) When Ms. Kuehl died, it was under questionable circumstances. The police ruled it a suicide, but her family had reason to believe that was not the case.

Director James Erskine assembled a remarkable film with the Kuehl audiotapes, incorporating archival film and audio recordings of Billie Holiday, as well as interviews with Linda Kuehl’s sister, Myra Luftman, as her sister’s special journey to document Billie’s life played an important role in this documentary. According to an article in The Guardian, these interview tapes were owned by a private collector, and documentary director Erskine bought the rights to these tapes, then set up with a production partnership with the Concord music group, which acquired the Billie Holiday Estate in 2012,

This film features some beautiful colorized versions of vintage black and white film footage, courtesy by reknown Brazilian colorist artist Marina Amaral, whose work was prominently featured in the best-selling book “The Colour of Time: A New History of the World, 1850-1960.”

The second of the two films – “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” takes a different approach entirely, as a feature film, with totally invented dialogue and certain liberties with character development, as is the usual nature of all docudrama feature films.

It is a beautiful film. Great cinematography, superb music and excellent set design that feels historically accurate to my eyes. I’m also convinced that Audra Day, who won a Golden Globe for her acting, will likely receive an Academy Award for her role in channeling Billie. For an actress who’s never done any acting before, I think she’s done an extraordinary job.

I have to admit that the first time I watched this, I was frustrated by what I felt was a misrepresentation of Harry Anslinger. As someone that was somewhat familiar with his background, during the timeline of when this movie took place, he would have been a middle-aged man with over twenty years of service as the first commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics. The actor playing this role did a fine job but he just seemed miscast to me

Both of these films provided powerful character studies of a woman that was both combative and vulnerable. Her childhood was a mess, as she was born into this world from an unwed teenager, raised by a cousin, raped when she was 11 years old, placed into protective custody for almost a full year as a state witness, wound up working in a brothel with her mother, before becoming a prostitute at the age of 14 years old.

Music provided her with an escape route out of that universe. She re-invented herself as Billie Holiday, borrowing the first part from Billie Dove, an actress she admired, and adding the surname of Clarence Halliday, her probable father, eventually simplified to Holiday.

She started off as a dancer that did singing, which led to a whole different career. As she played at different nightclubs in the early 1930s, her reputation grew larger and she would become lead vocalist with Fletcher Henderson‘s band, Count Basie and Artie Shaw before embarking as a solo career.

Billie lived a vibrant life. She had multiple lovers, 3 husbands (sometimes also functioning as managers), various recording contracts, motion picture appearances, an entourage of assistants, a handful of canines and in the course of her life, consumed a lot of drugs.

She dealt with a lot of drama in her life. She seemed to get involved with a lot of violent men. Apparently, she really wanted stability with a loving husband and children, neither of which she received.

Racism played an ugly part in her life story. At one point, she became the highest paid black female musician in the United States, but she still couldn’t use public toilets at many restaurants, hotels and gas stations.

She found a song addressed the terrors of the racism that she felt as a black woman. She recorded a song called “Strange Fruit,” which disturbed many of her white music fans, as well as government officials. Sometimes when she played this song in concert, she would get arrested and the audience would sometimes break out in riots.

Both of these films provide engaging stories about these aspects of Ms. Holiday’s life story. Both of the films are designed for mature audiences that aren’t offended by adult themes. Both of these films are highly recommended by yours truly.

At this point in time, some of you might be asking… “What does all this have to do with LOUIE LOUIE?”

Here’s what I’ve got:

1) Both Billie Holiday and the song LOUIE LOUIE were investigated by the F.B.I.

You can read the FBI files on Billie Holiday by clicking here.

2) Both “Strange Fruit” and LOUIE LOUIE were named as the “Song of the Century”

In 1999, Time Magazine declared “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday as the “Song of the Century.”

In 1999, Rhino Records produced a compilation entitled “20 Centuries of Hits,” which I believe was the first collection that documented the most popular musical compositions of the past 20 centuries. LOUIE LOUIE was one of two songs representing the 20th century, with “Stardust” as the other song.

3) The Billie Holiday Discography is an amazing webpage

I’m in awe over the Billie Holiday Discography webpage created by Mike Lubbers. I appreciate the way this database is organized in a way that I can quickly figure how many recorded versions of “Strange Fruit” exist, with a easy means to purchase and download many of the out-of-print recordings. This webpage is an inspiration, and I hope to find a web developer that could put serious time into transforming the LOUIE LOUIE discography into something like this.

4) Billie Holiday and the Flairs

I found this interesting photo of Billie Holiday next to the Apollo Theater marquee that featured The Flairs as part of an R&B Revue. Richard Berry was a founding member of the Flairs, but had already left the band a few years before they had a week-long stay at New York’s Apollo Theater in June 1956, when this photo was likely taken.

Anyways, it’s been a fascinating journey as I’ve been discovering more about this great American musician – her adventurous life and a rich legacy of music. I’m including a larger-than-usual list of references, which includes a link to a documentary on the song “Strange Fruit,” which can be viewed free of charge to anyone with a library card.

I leave you with this eerie 1939 first recording of the powerful song made famous by Ms. Holiday.

Happy Birthday Billie… wherever you are…

– E.P. of LouieLouie.net


Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit (original 1939 recording)

_________________________________________________

Reference Links:

The official Billie Holiday website
the Billie Holiday Discography- the awesome website by Mike Lubbers
Billie Holiday – Wikipedia
Billie (2019) – Wikipedia
The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021) – Wikipedia
Strange Fruit: The Biography of a Song (a documentary by Joel Katz) – another great documentary
Collider – ‘The United States vs. Billie Holiday’: What’s Fact vs. What’s Fiction in Lee Daniels’ New Biopic
Newsweek – The Story Behind ‘Strange Fruit,’ the Song That Inspired ‘The United States Vs. Billie Holiday’
The Guardian – Singer, activist, sex machine, addict: the troubled brilliance of Billie Holiday
Vanity Fair- Good Morning Heartache: The Life and Blues of Billie Holiday – excerpts from Billie’s 1956 autobiography
Politico- The Hunting of Billie Holiday– adapted excerpt from Johann Hari’s book Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs
Concord and Billie Holiday Estate Partner On James Erskine’s Documentary Billie
The Estate of Billie Holiday — in many sad ways reflects her life
FBI Files on Billie Holiday
Time Magazine -The Best Of The Century (December 31, 1999)
AllMusic- 20 Centuries of Hits

_________________________________________________

* In accordance with the generous wishes of William Gottlieb, the photographs in the William P. Gottlieb Collection entered into the public domain on February 16, 2010. (as noted at the Official Billie Holiday Website- billieholiday.com)

Countdown to 2021 International LOUIE LOUIE Day!

Today is April 6th, which means we’ve got 5 more days before International LOUIE LOUIE Day!

Tomorrow – Wednesday, April 7th, you can get into the spirit of LOUIE LOUIE Day at noon-2pm PDT by visiting FREEFORM PORTLAND, a nonprofit, independent, community-driven radio station broadcasting live at KFFP-LP 90.3 FM, KFFD-LP 98.3 FM & KYQT-LP 101.5 FM in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area and streaming online at freeformportland.org/listen.

Odd Monster will be your host for this very special event!

In the meantime, if anyone wants do a special celebration in their town, or on cyberspace… be it a concert, a dance party, a semi-spontaneous flash mob, a parade, a radio show, a podcast, or something else entirely, be sure to drop us a line, add a comment, or just visit the LOUIE LOUIE Party at Facebook.

(our continued thanks to our friends at Orme Radio, who created these lovely LOUIE memes)

LOUIE LOUIE Memories of Michael Dresbach (aka Padre Mickey)

This week, I’ve invited my old friend Michael Dresbach to be a special guest blogger.

Michael was a part of the infamous KFJC Maximum LOUIE LOUIE marathon all those years ago, and I thought it’d be fun to share his story. – E.P.

I grew up in Okinawa, Japan (well, it wasn’t “Japan” then, it was a US Administrated Island), but not as part of the Occupying Force; my parents were missionaries. I hadn’t heard any rock music. I paid attention to newspapers and news magazines so I was aware of the Beatles but I hadn’t heard any of their music. When I was in the fifth grade we returned to San Jose, California, for a furlough and, having access to a radio, I started listening to KLIV. This is where I first heard LOUIE LOUIE, but it was just another one of them rackety-roll songs and not a life-changing-experience. The next year we returned to Okinawa, but now I would sneak around to listen to the “Wicked, Cheap, Teenage Music Which Would Place My Soul In Eternal Perdition,” and was the rock of the 1960’s. We returned to California for the final time in 1970. I was sixteen, and very into that rackety-roll. I was excited to listen to FM radio and had purchased an FM radio on Akihabara street in Tokyo. However, it had a Japanese FM band, which was 76 to 90 MHz, much lower than the frequencies on the US FM band, so I could only listen to the audio from KPIX TV or KFJC-FM, where I heard music I certainly didn’t hear on KLIV. But I digress; let’s get back to the LOUIE LOUIE thang.

So, we move ahead to the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. I played in bands, as did everyone in those days (I believe it was a law of some sort). I answered an ad for a bassist (which I heard on KFJC) and met Matthew Hubbard, an extremely talented keyboardist and song writer (AND smart as a whip; he was on Jeopardy in 1985 and won the Big Money!). He was designing them new-fangled video games for a little outfit called Atari, later moving to another little outfit called Activision. We started a cover band which didn’t get anywhere. Then we auditioned for bands as a keyboardist/bassist team. This, too, did not work. One day I suggested we give up and just record his songs. We could buy some synthesizers and a drum machine and Do It Ourselves. So we did. We became The Wonders of Science.

We released an EP (that’s Extended Play, not Eric Predoehl!) entitled “The Record of the Same Name.” We also released a single: “The Big Picture” b/w “My Only Desire.” We were ready to take the Pop Music World by storm!

And…like so many others, it didn’t happen. Now, at the same time, I was at my sister and brother-in-law’s house, and my brother-in-law (at the time), the Famous Uncle Kenny Walter, showed me a program he had made for the Macintosh (one of those really old Macs, cuz it was in the olden days) which played the song LOUIE LOUIE. It had a map of the USA on which one could find versions of LOUIE LOUIE recorded in different states and hear a snippet of said recording. It was interesting but, as far as I was concerned, just another Uncle Kenny obsession. Little did I know that soon the entire South Bay would all catch up with Uncle Kenny and be just as obsessed with this little ditty as he! Soon we heard about how Jeff “Stretch” Riedle played several versions of LOUIE LOUIE on his extremely popular radio program.

At this time The Wonders of Science had expanded to include Travis Hunt on bass and Nathan Lindsey on drums, as we couldn’t pull off the Two-Guys-With-Synth thang live. Some DJ at KALX in Berkeley decided to play a few more versions than did Stretch. Then Stretch played a few more, and, as often happens when testosterone is involved, a fierce competition developed (Okay, I’m old and don’t remember exactly who started it. However, if interested in challenging my memory, ask me what was happening theologically in Fourth Century Cappadocia; my wife claims I spend more time there than in the present). And then, the gauntlet laid down, the LOUIE LOUIE Marathon took place, a moment that will live forever in Rock and Roll history. Everyone started submitting versions of LOUIE LOUIE. I had a little 4-track in my basement (where The Wonders of Science practiced) and recorded two versions of said song.


Synth Pop LOUIE LOUIE
(KFJC Max LOUIE #469 of 842 versions)


Telephone LOUIE LOUIE
(KFJC Max LOUIE #388 of 842 versions)

On the day of the marathon, The Wonders of Science played live on the air, right after the infamous Richard Berry/Jack Ely performance (with Lady Bo!). The Famous Uncle Kenny (remember him?) was serving as a Roadie with us. While we were setting up, Marvelous Marty (Preece), who was doing the sound for the on-air performances, said, “You guys could really use a horn player.” Well, as luck would have it, Uncle Kenny is an outstanding trumpet player; he played with symphonies and brass quintets and all that, so he went off to find a horn he could borrow. By the time he came back with a trumpet, Marty was gone and in the control booth. We, The Wonders of Science (now with Uncle Kenny!) played our LOUIE LOUIE medley (incorporating a messa songs which used the same chord progression) live on the radio. Once we were finished, Uncle Kenny ran off to return the borrowed trumpet. Marty came flying in to the room asking who was playing the trumpet. We denied that there was any trumpet, yuk yuk. Later we thanked Richard Berry and Jack Ely (with Lady Bo!) for opening for us, yuk yuk. We were just a barrel of laughs that day!

Back then, not only was I playing in The Wonders of Science and recording various bands, I was also working a day job AND working as a Church Musician at St. Patrick’s Church in San Jose, which required me to get up early on Sunday mornings. My clock radio woke me on the Sunday of the LOUIE LOUIE Marathon and I heard the two versions I had submitted. What fun! I realized that the LOUIE LOUIE thang was a successful event when, later that day, I heard my pre-school daughters playing LOUIE LOUIE on their toy piano and singing along.

The Wonders of Science mutated into A Cruel Hoax around 1985 or so. By then Louie Louie was THE song one must have in one’s set list. I remember being at gigs and having Stretch ask, “Are you guys playing LOUIE LOUIE tonight?” I’d say, “yes” and then he would ask, “Can I record it?” I always allowed him to do so as he would always play it on his show. I remember E P (Eric Predoehl, not extended play) was working on an epic LOUIE LOUIE film (I believe he still is- YES!) and him filming Travis and I walking down First Street singing LOUIE LOUIE* but E P said it didn’t happen and, you know, “pictures or GTFO”, so my memory fails me once again (perhaps it happened in Fourth Century Cappadocia?).

A Cruel Hoax combined forces with the Social Club, the Frontier Wives, and the Kingpins to record “San Jose is Ground Zero: We’re Number One!” and figured “NOW it’s gonna happen!” We played regularly at the local clubs and helped form the First Strike Musicians Guild and released cassette tapes and did all that stuff but we couldn’t get anywhere. We wrote great songs (in my opinion) and we had a great sound but it wasn’t happening. One day I was putting gas in the car, thinking about how our latest recording wasn’t catching on and decided, “Screw it! I’m going to Seminary”, cuz, that’s whatcha do when you can’t make it as a Pop Star.

I quit the band, got my Bachelors in Science, then went to seminary (The Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley), earned a Masters of Divinity and a Master of Arts in History of Religion, and was ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church. I served as a missionary in the Republic of Panama for a little over twelve years, returned to the USA and served as priest at All Saints Cristo Rey Episcopal Church in Watsonville and am now retired… but I can still play LOUIE LOUIE and know all the words.

Thank you for your patience and you can wake up now.

Michael Dresbach (aka Padre Mickey)
_______________

* = Sadly, I have no memory nor can I find any evidence of this impromptu recording that I supposedly captured….

… but here’s a few special moments from the Maximum LOUIE LOUIE event!

Thank you, Michael! – E.P.


The Wonders of Science – Live on KFJC
(KFJC Max LOUIE #336 of 842 versions)

Remembering Jesse Belvin

It’s February – Black History Month, and this seems like a good time as any to pause to remember one of the great underrated rhythm and blues singers from Los Angeles in the 1950s.

Richard Berry, the man responsible for writing the song LOUIE LOUIE, had high praise for Jesse Belvin, who he considered as a mentor. In the Los Angeles rhythm and blues community, Jesse was often considered one of the most influential singer-songwriters from the tradition of vocal harmony groups known as Doo-Wop music.

Jesse Belvin doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention in rock and roll history books, but I was pleasantly surprised to see him acknowledged in two different documentaries on the short life of Sam Cooke.

ReMastered: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke” (Netflix) and “Lady You Shot Me: Life and Death of Sam Cooke” (Prime Video) both discuss the tragic death of Jesse Belvin after both musicians performed at the first integrated concert in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1960.

The South was a very dangerous place for black musicians in the 1960s.

While the USA has made great strides in the past 60+ years, we’re still facing some real problems in 2021.

This week, as we pay tribute to Jesse Belvin, we’ll share some recycled and slightly modified words originally posted by our friend Deborah Roldan-Dixon, who runs the Juke Jive n’ Jam Facebook group.

____________________________

Jesse Belvin

An R&B singer, pianist and songwriter popular in the 1950s, Belvin’s success was cut short by his death in a car crash at age 27.

Born in Texarkana, Texas, Belvin moved with his family to Los Angeles at the age of five. In 1950, he joined saxophonist Big Jay McNeely’s backing vocal quartet —Three Dots and a Dash — and was featured prominently on their record releases.

In 1952, he joined Specialty Records. Although his early solo records were unsuccessful, his fourth record, “Dream Girl,” credited to Jesse & Marvin and featuring Marvin Phillips on saxophone, reached #2 on the R&B charts in 1953.

He was then drafted into the Army, but continued to write songs during his enlistment. His composition, “Earth Angel,” eventually co-credited to Belvin and Hollywood Flames singers Curtis Williams and Gaynel Hodge after a legal dispute, was recorded by The Penguins. It became one of the first R&B singles to cross over onto the pop charts, selling a million copies in 1954/55.

In 1956, he signed a contract with Modern Records, but also continued to sing for other labels under different names. His biggest hit was “Goodnight My Love,” which reached #7 on the R&B chart.

The piano on the session was reportedly played by the 11-year-old Barry White. The song became the closing theme to Alan Freed’s rock and roll radio shows.

Belvin’s other recordings for Modern were less successful, and in 1958 he recorded on Dot Records with a group, The Shields, who included lead singer Frankie Ervin and guitarist Johnny “Guitar” Watson. Their record, “You Cheated,” reached #15 on the U.S. pop chart and #11 on the R&B chart. He also recorded with Eugene Church as the Cliques on a less successful single, “Girl of My Dreams” which was covered by the Four Lovers. Two of group’s members including Frankie Valli would later become The Four Seasons. Inspired by his wife and manager, Jo Anne, to develop his style, he signed to RCA Records in 1959. He immediately had a Top 40 hit with “Guess Who,” written by his wife.

He also recorded an album, Just Jesse Belvin, developing a more mature and sophisticated sound on ballads. His style was influenced by Nat “King” Cole and Billy Eckstine, and became a model for Sam Cooke and others.
He acquired the nickname “Mr. Easy,” and the record company began moulding him as a potential crossover star for white audiences, as well as a professional rival to Capitol Records’ recording star, Nat “King” Cole.
He recorded a further series of tracks later in the year, with arranger Marty Paich and an orchestra including saxophonist Art Pepper. The songs included soulful covers of standards like “Blues in the Night,” “In the Still of the Night” and “Makin’ Whoopee.” They were issued on the album, Mr. Easy.

However, before the album was issued, and shortly after finishing a performance in Little Rock on a bill with Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson and Marv Johnson, Belvin and his wife were killed in a head-on collision on February 6, 1960 at Hope, Arkansas.

The concert was the first concert played before an integrated audience in the history of Little Rock, and had been stopped twice by interruptions from whites in the audience. They shouted racial epithets and urged the white teenagers in attendance to leave at once.

There had been several death threats on Belvin prior to the concert, and that led to speculation that Belvin’s car had been tampered with prior to the accident.

Various journalists have argued that the car had indeed been tampered with and Jackie Wilson made a statement to the press that his lawyer would look into the matter, but nothing ever became of that.

As was reported in some obituaries, it was believed that the driver nodded off, lost control of the car and had a head-on collision with a car traveling in the opposite direction. According to those publications, the driver had previously been recently fired for falling asleep at the wheel by another musical act.

Here’s a rare TV clip of Jesse Belvin.


https://youtu.be/RAiq6UyJ7R4

Reference Clips:
Juke Jive n’ Jam Facebook group

Rare LOUIE 45 single by (alternative) Sonics Sells for $4,850

It’s time for the first LOUIE post for 2021! It’s a new year, as we hit the “restart” with a new operating system in the USA, which will hopefully be a better year than the other year!

Today is 1-23-21, or 12321….backwards or forwards… a Palindrome Day!

Exciting, huh?

Anyways, the first noteworthy LOUIE news for 2021 was a record-setting sale for a vintage LOUIE LOUIE record!

On January 3rd, someone paid $4,850 for an ultra-rare 45 single recording of “LOUIE LOUIE” with “Johnny B. Goode” on the flipside. The band was the Sonics, but it had no relationship to the more popular band from Tacoma, Washington with the same name.

MopTopMike shared a short history of this particular band called the Sonics on the g45central webpage:

The guys all attended school in Thailand, as their parents all had government or government related jobs which relocated them overseas for a certain amount of time. The group was not from Florida.

Each of the members came from a different state in the USA. And the group started long before the Beatles / Brit Invasion era. There were many members during the course of the group’s existence.

All of the recordings were done in Thailand, and all three came with picture sleeves. There were other recordings but none were issued as singles.

Neither of these Sonics knew of the other band with the same name. The Tacoma Sonics were signed to Etiquette Records, a label operated by the (Fabulous) Wailers, with some national distribution by Imperial Records. The Thailand Sonics aka “Sonics Inc.”, released 3 singles on their own Sonics Music Ltd. record label with considerably smaller distribution.

Both Sonics released their version of LOUIE LOUIE in 1966.

You can hear the (Thailand) Sonics’ recording of LOUIE LOUIE and other songs on their official ReverbNation webpage.

Big thanks once again to our pal Clay Stabler for finding this one!

REFERENCE LINKS:
eBay listing – “SONICS INC louie louie 45 + PICTURE SLEEVE KILLER CRUDE GARAGE PUNK HEAR”
ReverbNation – Sonics Music Ltd. official webpage
G45central.com- Sonics Inc. Info
45Cat.com – Sonics Inc. Discography
Discogs – The Sonics Inc Discography

After I posted this, I was reminded today was the 24th anniversary of Richard Berry’s passing..

12 Days of LOUIE LOUIE 2020 Christmas (the Christmas Finale)

Today is Christmas, and we are celebrating this special day.

Mojo Nixon provided a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas with a LOUIE LOUIE theme, which we’re sharing once again….

On these LouieLouie.net pages, there was an attempt to merge LOUIE LOUIE celebrations with the 12 Days of Christmas theme, which changed into a “12 Days ’til Christmas” theme after we realized it wasn’t following the proper structure of traditional “12 Days of Christmas” concept… which led to the numbering system getting a bit messed up.

We also looked for likewise-minded celebrations that someone else might have attempted, but the closest thing we could find was a NASTY but funny clip called “The 12 Days of Uncle Louie.”

We were also thinking of creating a big ambitious video clip that would consist of stock film footage of partridges, turtle doves, French hens, calling birds, assorted people wearing golden rings, lots of geese a-laying, many swans a-swimming, more maids a-milking, lots of ladies dancing, some lords leaping, various pipers piping and a whole bunch of drummers making assorted sounds that would all be combined into a massive mashup of LOUIE LOUIE and the song “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

Unfortunately, as we ran out of time and resources, that little project never happened.

BUT.. we did find a cool video clip of various animals singing “12 Days of Christmas!”

In the meantime, we leave you with this clip of a performance that does combine LOUIE LOUIE with another song. This medley-mashup combines LOUIE LOUIE with the Vince Guaraldi song “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” as performed by Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin.

That being said, the concept of “casting your find to the wind” during this weird moment in history when airborne particles are potentially more dangerous than ever before, is not necessarily a wise move.

We’d like to encourage our fellow citizens to act responsibly, and wear face masks when in the presence of other humans. (Airborne particles CAN travel 20 feet)

As long as people refuse the call to act responsibly, the longer we’ll have to deal with this damned pandemic.

We wish all of our friends the best of health during these extremely challenging times.

Happy holidays to all!

Me gotta go now..

– E.P. of LouieLouie.net