Louie Louie

"Louie Louie" is a rhythm and blues song written and composed by American musician Richard Berry in 1955. It is best known for the 1963 hit version by the Kingsmen and has become a standard in pop and rock. The song is based on the tune "El Loco Cha Cha" popularized by bandleader René Touzet and is an example of Latin influence on American popular music.

"Louie Louie"
Single by Richard Berry
A-sideYou Are My Sunshine [1]
ReleasedApril 1957 (1957-04)
Format45 rpm record
GenreRhythm and blues
Songwriter(s)Richard Berry
Richard Berry singles chronology
"Take The Key"
"Louie Louie"
"Sweet Sugar You"

"Louie Louie" tells, in simple verse–chorus form, the first-person story of a Jamaican sailor returning to the island to see his lover.

The Kingsmen's recording was the subject of an FBI investigation about the supposed, but nonexistent, obscenity of the lyrics, an investigation that ended without prosecution.[2]The nearly unintelligible (and innocuous) lyrics were widely misinterpreted, and the song was banned by radio stations as well as being investigated by the FBI.

"Louie Louie" has been recognized by organizations and publications worldwide for its influence on the history of rock and roll. A partial list (see "Recognition and rankings" table below) includes the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame, National Public Radio, VH1, Rolling Stone Magazine, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Recording Industry Association of America. Other major examples of the song's legacy include the celebration of International Louie Louie Day every year on April 11; the annual Louie Louie Parade in Philadelphia from 1985 to 1989; the LouieFest in Tacoma from 2003 to 2012; the ongoing annual Louie Louie Street Party in Peoria; and the unsuccessful attempt in 1985 to make it the state song of Washington.

Dave Marsh, in his book The History and Mythology of the World's Most Famous Rock 'n' Roll Song wrote, "It is the best of songs, it is the worst of songs"[3] and rock historian Peter Blecha notes, "Far from shuffling off to a quiet retirement, evidence indicates that 'Louie Louie' may actually prove to be immortal."[4]

Original version by Richard Berry

Richard Berry was inspired to write the song in 1955 after listening to an R&B interpretation of "El Loco Cha Cha" performed by the Latin R&B group Ricky Rillera and the Rhythm Rockers.[5] The tune was written originally as "Amarren Al Loco" ("Tie Up the Madman") by Cuban bandleader Rosendo Ruiz Jr., also known as Rosendo Ruiz Quevedo, but became best known in the "El Loco Cha Cha" arrangement by René Touzet which included a rhythmic ten-note "1-2-3 1–2 1-2-3 1–2" pattern.[6]

Touzet performed the tune regularly in Los Angeles clubs in the 1950s. In Berry's mind, the words "Louie Louie" superimposed themselves over the repeating bassline. Lyrically, the first person perspective of the song was influenced by "One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)," which is sung from the perspective of a customer talking to a bartender ("Louie" was the name of Berry's bartender).[7] Berry cited Chuck Berry's "Havana Moon" and his exposure to Latin American music for the song's speech pattern and references to Jamaica.[8]

Los Angeles-based Flip Records issued Berry's adaptation with his backing band the Pharaohs in April 1957 as a single B-side of "You Are My Sunshine". The single was a regional hit on the west coast, particularly in San Francisco. When the group toured the Pacific Northwest, local R&B bands began to play the song, increasing its popularity. The song was then re-released as an A-side single. However, the single never appeared on the various Billboard R&B charts nor broader Hot 100. Berry's label reported that the single had sold 40,000 copies. After a series of unsuccessful follow-ups, Berry sold his portion of publishing and songwriting rights for $750 to the head of Flip Records in 1959.[9]

While the title of the song is often rendered with a comma ("Louie, Louie"), in 1988, Berry told Esquire magazine that the correct title of the song was "Louie Louie" with no comma.[10]

Although similar to the original, the version on Rhino's 1983 The Best of Louie, Louie compilation[11] is actually a note-for-note re-recording created because licensing could not be obtained for Berry's 1957 version.[12] The original version was not legitimately re-released until the Ace Records Love That Louie compilation in 2002.[13]

Cover versions

By some accounts "Louie Louie" is the world's most recorded rock song with estimates ranging from over 1,600[4] to more than 2,000.[14]


Rockin' Robin Roberts

"Louie Louie"
Single by Rockin' Robin Roberts
Released1961 (1961)
Format45 rpm record
Songwriter(s)Richard Berry

Robin Roberts developed an interest in rock 'n' roll and rhythm and blues records as a high school student in Tacoma, Washington. Among the songs he began performing as an occasional guest singer with a local band, the Bluenotes, in 1958 were "Louie Louie", which he had heard on Berry's obscure original single, and Bobby Day's "Rockin' Robin", which gave him his stage name.

In 1959, Roberts left the Bluenotes and began singing with another local band, the Wailers (often known as the Fabulous Wailers, who had had a hit record with the instrumental "Tall Cool One"). Known for his dynamic onstage performances, Roberts added "Louie Louie" to the band's set and, in 1960 recorded the track with the Wailers as his backing band.[15] The arrangement, devised by Roberts with the band, included Roberts' ad-lib "Let's give it to 'em, RIGHT NOW!!" Released on the band's own label, Etiquette, in early 1961, it became a hit locally and was then reissued and promoted by Liberty Records in Los Angeles, but it failed to chart.

Roberts was killed in an automobile accident in 1967.[15] Dave Marsh dedicated his 1993 book "For Richard Berry, who gave birth to this unruly child, and Rockin' Robin Roberts, who first raised it to glory."[16]

The Kingsmen

"Louie Louie"
Original release
Single by The Kingsmen
from the album The Kingsmen In Person
B-side"Haunted Castle"
ReleasedJune 1963 (1963-06)
Format45 rpm record
RecordedApril 1963
GenreGarage rock[17]
Songwriter(s)Richard Berry
  • Ken Chase
  • Jerry Dennon
The Kingsmen singles chronology
"Louie Louie"
Audio sample
  • file
  • help

On April 6, 1963,[18][19] the Kingsmen, a rock and roll group from Portland, Oregon, chose "Louie Louie" for their second recording, their first having been "Peter Gunn Rock". The Kingsmen recorded the song at Northwestern, Inc., Motion Pictures and Recording in Portland. The session cost $50, and the band split the cost.[20][21]

The session was produced by Ken Chase. Chase was a local radio personality on the AM rock station 91 KISN and also owned the teen nightclub that hosted the Kingsmen as their house band. The engineer for the session was the studio owner, Robert Lindahl. The Kingsmen's lead singer Jack Ely based his version on the recording by Rockin' Robin Roberts with the Fabulous Wailers, unintentionally introducing a change in the rhythm as he showed the others how to play it with a 1–2–3, 1–2, 1–2–3 beat instead of the 1–2–3–4, 1–2, 1–2–3–4 beat on the Wailers record.[22] The night before their recording session, the band played a 90-minute version of the song during a gig at a local teen club. The Kingsmen's studio version was recorded in one take. They also recorded the B-side of the release, an original instrumental by the group called "Haunted Castle".

A significant error on the Kingsmen version occurs just after the lead guitar break. As the group was going by the Wailers version, which has a brief restatement of the riff two times over before the lead vocalist comes back in, it would be expected that Ely would do the same. Ely, however, overshot his mark, coming in too soon, before the restatement of the riff. He realized his mistake and stopped the verse short, but the band did not realize that he had done so. As a quick fix, drummer Lynn Easton covered the pause with a drum fill, but before the verse ended, the rest of the band went into the chorus at the point where they expected it to be. This error is now so embedded in the consciousness of some groups that they deliberately duplicate it when performing the song.

The Kingsmen transformed Berry's easy-going ballad into a raucous romp, complete with a twangy guitar, occasional background chatter, and nearly unintelligible lyrics by Ely.[23] Ely had to stand on tiptoe to sing into a boom mike, and his braces further impeded his singing. A guitar break is triggered by the shout, "Okay, let's give it to 'em right now!", which first appeared in the Wailers version,[24] as did the entire guitar break (although, in the Wailers version, a few notes differ, and the entire band played the break). Critic Dave Marsh suggests it is this moment that gives the recording greatness: "[Ely] went for it so avidly you'd have thought he'd spotted the jugular of a lifelong enemy, so crudely that, at that instant, Ely sounds like Donald Duck on helium. And it's that faintly ridiculous air that makes the Kingsmen's record the classic that it is, especially since it's followed by a guitar solo that's just as wacky."[25] Marsh ranks the song as number eleven out of the 1001 greatest singles ever made.

First released in May 1963, the single was initially issued by the small Jerden label, before being picked up by the larger Wand Records and released by them in October 1963. It entered the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for December 7, and peaked at number two the following week, a spot which it held for six non-consecutive weeks; it would remain in the top 10 through December and January before dropping off in early February.[26] In total, the Kingsmen's version spent 16 weeks on the Hot 100. (Singles by the Singing Nun, then Bobby Vinton, monopolized the top slot for eight weeks.) "Louie Louie" did reach number one on the Cashbox pop chart for two weeks, as well as number one on the Cashbox R&B chart.[27] It was the last #1 on Cashbox before Beatlemania hit the United States with "I Want to Hold Your Hand".[28] The version quickly became a standard at teen parties in the U.S. during the 1960s, even reappearing on the charts in 1966.

"Louie Louie"
Second Wand release with "Lead vocal by Jack Ely" text
Single by The Kingsmen
from the album The Kingsmen in Person
B-side"Haunted Castle"[29]
ReleasedOctober 1963 (1963-10)
Format45 rpm record
RecordedApril 1963
  • 2:24 (on label)
  • 2:42
Songwriter(s)Richard Berry
  • Ken Chase
  • Jerry Dennon

Another factor in the success of the record may have been the rumor that the lyrics were intentionally slurred by the Kingsmen—to cover up the alleged fact that the lyrics were laced with profanity, graphically depicting sex between the sailor and his lady. Crumpled pieces of paper professing to be "the real lyrics" to "Louie Louie" circulated among teens. The song was banned on many radio stations and in many places in the United States, including Indiana, where it was personally prohibited by Governor Matthew Welsh.[30][31][32][33]

These actions were taken despite the small matter that practically no one could distinguish the actual lyrics. Denials of chicanery by Kingsmen and Ely did not stop the controversy. The FBI started a 31-month investigation into the matter and concluded they were "unable to interpret any of the wording in the record."[2] Ironically, however, drummer Lynn Easton later admitted that he yelled "Fuck" after fumbling a drum fill at 0:54 on the record.[20][23][34]

Sales of the Kingsmen record were so low (reportedly 600) that the group considered disbanding. Things changed when Boston's biggest DJ, Arnie Ginsburg, was given the record by a pitchman. Amused by its slapdash sound, he played it on his program as "The Worst Record of the Week". Despite the slam, listener response was swift and positive.

By the end of October, it was listed in Billboard as a regional breakout and a "bubbling under" entry for the national chart. Meanwhile, the Raiders version, with far stronger promotion, was becoming a hit in California and was also listed as "bubbling under" one week after the Kingsmen debuted on the chart. For a few weeks, the two singles appeared destined to battle each other, but demand for the Kingsmen single acquired momentum and, by the end of 1963, Columbia Records had stopped promoting the Raiders version, as ordered by Mitch Miller.

By the time the Kingsmen version had achieved national popularity, the band had split. Two rival editions—one featuring lead singer Jack Ely, the other with Lynn Easton who held the rights to the band's name—were competing for live audiences across the country. A settlement was reached later in 1964 giving Easton the right to the Kingsmen name but requiring all future pressings of the original version of "Louie Louie" to display "Lead vocal by Jack Ely" on the label.

On November 9, 1998, after a protracted lawsuit that lasted five years and cost $1.3 million, the Kingsmen were awarded ownership of all their recordings released on Wand Records from Gusto Records, including "Louie Louie". They had not been paid royalties on the songs since the 1960s.[35][36]

When Jack Ely died on April 28, 2015, his son reported that "my father would say, 'We were initially just going to record the song as an instrumental, and at the last minute I decided I'd sing it.'" When it came time to do that, however, Ely discovered the sound engineer had raised the studio's only microphone several feet above his head. Then he placed Ely in the middle of his fellow musicians, all in an effort to create a better "live feel" for the recording. The result, Ely would say over the years, was that he had to stand on his toes, lean his head back and shout as loudly as he could just to be heard over the drums and guitars.[37]

Paul Revere & the Raiders

"Louie Louie"
Single by Paul Revere & the Raiders
from the album Here They Come!
B-side"Night Train"
ReleasedJune 1963 (1963-06)
Format45 rpm record
RecordedApril 1963
Songwriter(s)Richard Berry
Producer(s)Roger Hart
Paul Revere & the Raiders singles chronology
"So Fine"
"Louie Louie"
"Louie Go Home"

Paul Revere & the Raiders also recorded a version of "Louie Louie", probably on April 13, 1963, in the same Portland studio as the Kingsmen.[38][39] The recording was paid for and produced by KISN radio personality Roger Hart, who soon became personal manager for the band. Released on Hart's Sandē label, their version was more successful locally. Columbia Records issued the single nationally in June 1963 and it went to #1 in the West and Hawaii. The quick success of "Louie Louie" suddenly halted, however, and a few years later Paul Revere & the Raiders learned the reason—Columbia A&R man Mitch Miller, a former bandleader (Sing Along With Mitch) who hated rock and roll, had pulled the plug on their version.

Robert Lindahl, president and chief engineer of NWI and sound engineer on both the Kingsmen and Raiders recordings, noted that the Raiders version was not known for "garbled lyrics" or an amateurish recording technique. But despite these attributes, the single never seized the public's attention the way the less-polished Kingsmen version did.

The Raiders version also contains a scarcely audible "dirty lyric" when Mark Lindsay says, "Do she fuck? That psyches me up!" behind the guitar solo.[40]

Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention

"Louie Louie" repeatedly figured in the musical lexicon of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention in the 1960s. His original compositions "Plastic People" and "Ruthie-Ruthie" (from You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 1) were set to the melody of "Louie Louie" and included Richard Berry co-writer credits.[41] Zappa said that he fired guitarist Alice Stuart from the Mothers of Invention because she couldn't play "Louie Louie", although this comment was obviously intended as a joke.[42] At a 1967 concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Mothers of Invention keyboardist Don Preston climbed up to the legendary venue's pipe organ, usually used for classical works, and played the signature riff (included on the 1969 album Uncle Meat). Quick interpolations of "Louie Louie" also frequently turn up in other Zappa works.[43]

Other 1960s versions

After the Kingsmen and Raiders versions, many other bands recorded the song:



"Louie Louie"
Single by Motörhead
from the album Overkill (re-issue)
B-side"Tear Ya Down"
ReleasedSeptember 30, 1978 (1978-09-30)
Format7-inch single
StudioWessex, London
Songwriter(s)Richard Berry
  • Neil Richmond
  • Motörhead
Motörhead singles chronology
"Louie Louie"

"Louie Louie" was Motörhead's first single for Bronze Records in 1978, following their initial release on Chiswick Records in 1977. It was a relatively faithful cover of the song, with Clarke's guitar emulating the Hohner Pianet electric piano riff. It was released as a 7" vinyl single and reached number 68 on the UK Singles Chart. The song was released with "Tear Ya Down" and appears on the CD re-issues of Overkill and The Best of Motörhead compilation. On 25 October 1978 a pre-recording of the band playing this song was broadcast on the BBC show Top of the Pops.[46]

Other 1970s versions

  • The song was covered by the Flamin' Groovies on their 1971 album Teenage Head.
  • A 1971 version by "John Lennon and Friends" recorded at his 31st birthday party was released on the 1989 bootleg CD Let's Have A Party.
  • In 1972, Berry released the song again as a single on the Happy Tiger label. This was the label's final release before it folded.
  • Also in 1972 Led Zeppelin performed a version of the song in Los Angeles which can be heard on the bootleg Burn Like a Candle. This performance is the source of most of the 2003 live album How the West Was Won, but "Louie Louie" was omitted from the official release.
  • MC5 performed "Louie Louie" in Helsinki in 1972.
  • In 1973, Flash Cadillac & the Continental Kids performed the song in the film American Graffiti, in a version produced by Kim Fowley.
  • Toots & the Maytals recorded a version for their album Funky Kingston. It has been suggested that use of the Kingsmen's beat may have helped lead to the invention of reggae music,[47] but the Maytals track used a Jamaican beat unrelated to the Kingsmen version and their album was released at least four years after reggae became a distinct form, and at least six years after the "rock steady" beat on the Maytals track was first developed.
  • The 1973 song "Brother Louie" by the UK band Hot Chocolate was strongly inspired by "Louie Louie" and includes a minor-key reprise of the chorus. The song, about an interracial romance, became a No. 1 U.S. hit that same year in a cover version by the New York band Stories.[48]
  • In 1974, the Stooges (a.k.a. Iggy and the Stooges) performed the song at their final concert, with some obscene lyric changes, which was released on their live album Metallic K.O. in 1976.
  • A version of "Louie Louie" performed by the Clash was released on the Louie is a Punkrocker vinyl bootleg in 1977.
  • Re-recorded versions by Jack Ely were created in 1976 and 1980 and appeared on multiple "original artist" compilations of 60s hits as by "Jack Ely" or "The Kingsmen featuring Jack Ely".
  • A version by John Belushi appeared on the National Lampoon's Animal House soundtrack album in 1978. Released as a single, it reached #89 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
  • Other 1970s releases and bootlegs included versions by Blondie (1979), Nick Cave (1977), The Fall (1977), Goddo (1975), Heavy Cruiser (1972), the Kids (1970), John The Postman (1977), Sounds Orchestral (1970), Lou Reed (1978), Line Renaud (1973), Patti Smith (1976), and Deniz Tek (1974).


Black Flag

"Louie Louie"
The cover features Black Flag's singer Dez Cadena and some of his improvised lyrics to "Louie Louie".
Single by Black Flag
B-side"Damaged I"
Released1981 (1981)
GenreHardcore punk
LabelPosh Boy

The Hermosa Beach, California hardcore punk band Black Flag released a cover version of "Louie Louie" as a single in 1981 through Posh Boy Records.[49] It was the band's first release with Dez Cadena as singer, replacing Ron Reyes who had left the group the previous year.[50][51] Cadena would go on to sing on the Six Pack EP before switching to rhythm guitar and being replaced on vocals by Henry Rollins.[50][52] Cadena improvised his own lyrics to "Louie Louie", such as "You know the pain that's in my heart / It just shows I'm not very smart / Who needs love when you've got a gun? / Who needs love to have any fun?"[49] The single also included an early version of "Damaged I", which would be re-recorded with Rollins for the band's debut album, Damaged, later that year.[49] Demo versions of both tracks, recorded with Cadena, were included on the 1982 compilation album Everything Went Black.[53]

The front cover art shows the main verse of the lyrics to "Louie Louie" over a photograph by Edward Colver featuring Black Flag's third singer Dez Cadena.

Bryan Carroll of AllMusic gave the single four out of five stars, saying that "Of the more than 1,500 commitments of Richard Berry's 'Louie Louie' to wax ... Black Flag's volatile take on the song is incomparable. No strangers to controversy themselves, the band pummel the song with their trademark pre-Henry Rollins-era guitar sludge, while singer Dez Cadena spits out his nihilistic rewording of the most misunderstood lyrics in rock history."[49] Both tracks from the single were included on the 1983 compilation album The First Four Years, and "Louie Louie" was also included on 1987's Wasted...Again.[54][55] A live version of "Louie Louie", recorded by the band's 1985 lineup, was released on the live album Who's Got the 10½?, with Rollins improvising his own lyrics.[56]

Other 1980s versions




Answer songs, sequels, and tributes

  • "Louie Go Home", 1964, Paul Revere & The Raiders (Columbia 4-43008); also released in 1964 by Davie Jones & The King Bees (David Bowie) as "Louie Louie Go Home" (Vocalion V9221).
  • "Love That Louie", 1964, Jack E. Lee & The Squires (RCA 54-8452)
  • "Louie Come Home", 1965, The Epics (Zen 202)
  • "Louie Come Back", 1965, The Legends (Shout! Northwest Killers Volume 2, Norton NW 907)
  • "Louise Louise", 1966, H.B. & The Checkmates (Lavender R1936)
  • "Louie Go Home", 1966, The Campus Kingsmen (Impalla V 1481); different song from the Raiders version
  • "Louie Louie's Comin' Back", 1967, The Pantels (Rich RR-120)
  • "Louie Louie Louie", 1989, Henry Lee Summer (I've Got Everything, CBS ZK 45124)
  • "Louie Louie Got Married", 1994, The Tentacles (K Records IPU XCIV)
  • "Louie Louie (Where Did She Roam)", 1996, Thee Headcoats (SFTRI 335)
  • "Ballad of the Kingsmen", 2004, Todd Snider (East Nashville Skyline, Oh Boy Records OBR-031)
  • "Louie Louie Music", 2012, Armitage Shanks (Louie Louie Music EP, Little Teddy LiTe765)
  • "I Love Louie Louie", 2014, The Rubinoos (45, Pynotic Productions 0045)

"Louie Louie" compilations

Lyrics investigation

In February 1964, an outraged parent[68] wrote to Robert F. Kennedy, then the Attorney General of the United States, alleging that the lyrics of "Louie Louie" were obscene. The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the complaint.[69] In June 1965, the FBI laboratory obtained a copy of the Kingsmen recording and, after 31 months of investigation, concluded that it could not be interpreted, that it was "unintelligible at any speed,"[70] and therefore the Bureau could not find that the recording was obscene.[2] In September 1965, an FBI agent interviewed one member of the Kingsmen, who denied that there was any obscenity in the song. The FBI never bothered either to interview songwriter Richard Berry or to consult the actual lyrics that were on file with the U.S. Copyright Office.[2][71]

A history of the song and its notoriety was published in 1992 by Dave Marsh, but he was unable to obtain permission to publish the song's actual lyrics.[72] Richard Berry told Esquire Magazine, in 1988, that the Kingsmen had sung the song exactly as written.[10]

The lyrics controversy resurfaced briefly in 2005 when the superintendent of the school system in Benton Harbor, Michigan, refused to let the marching band at one of the schools play the song in a parade. She later relented.[73][74]

Cultural impact

The Kingsmen version has remained the most popular version of the song, retaining its association with wild partying. It enjoyed a comeback in 1978–1979 and was associated with college fraternity parties when it was sung, complete with the supposedly obscene lyrics, by Bluto (John Belushi) and his fellow Delta House brothers in the movie National Lampoon's Animal House despite the anachronism of the film taking place in 1962, a year before the Kingsmen recording (although this is mitigated by the fact that the Deltas were fans of at least one black R&B musician, and 1962 was five years after Richard Berry released his original version of the song, plus the song had been popular with local bands in the Northwest following Rockin' Robin Roberts' 1961 single). Aside from the Animal House appearance, the song appeared in many other films, typically in raucous and humorous contexts.

Some bands have taken liberties with the lyrics, including attempts to record the supposed "obscene lyrics", notably the Stooges, whose version can be heard on their live album Metallic K.O. Iggy Pop later recorded a more civilized cover version of the song, with new lyrics composed by Pop, for his 1993 album American Caesar. He continues to play it live at shows.

The Who were directed in their early recording career by the riff/rhythm of "Louie Louie", owing to the song's influence on the Kinks, who, like the Who, were produced by Shel Talmy — the Kinks on the Pye label and the Who on Brunswick. Talmy wanted the successful sounds of the Kinks' 1964 hits "You Really Got Me", "All Day and All of the Night", and "Till the End of the Day" to be copied by the Who. As a result, Pete Townshend penned "I Can't Explain", released in March 1965. During a pre-song interview with host Brian Matthew on Saturday Club in May, Pete explained that "I Can't Explain" was released to "introduce the Who to the charts" and that they were now trying to create the sort of sound they achieved on stage at present — hence the new single they were about to sing live on Saturday Club, the feedback-driven, Mod-inspired "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere". (In 1979 "Louie Louie" would be featured on the soundtrack album to Quadrophenia.)

Ian Curtis of Joy Division can be heard saying "You should hear our version of 'Louie Louie', woah" at the end of the band's live cover of The Velvet Underground's Sister Ray on their Still album.

The song has been used in a few Simpsons episodes: "Homer Goes To College" over the end credits, "Kill the Alligator and Run" when Homer is in the boat, and "We're on the Road to D'ohwhere" when Lisa's orchestra are rehearsing and their instruments begin to rust.

"Louie Louie" is referenced in the John Prine song "Lake Marie" and uses the words, "Oh baby, we gotta go now".

During a change in format from adult-contemporary to all-oldies, radio station WMXP-FM in Peoria, Illinois became "all Louie, all the time," playing nothing but covers of "Louie Louie" for six straight days.[75][76]

Use in movies

Various versions of "Louie Louie" have appeared in the films listed below.[77]

Year Title Version(s) On OST
1972 Tijuana Blue[lower-alpha 1] Kingsmen n/a
1973 American Graffiti Flash Cadillac No[lower-alpha 2]
1978 National Lampoon's Animal House Kingsmen, John Belushi Yes[lower-alpha 3]
1979 Quadrophenia Kingsmen Yes[lower-alpha 4]
1983 Heart Like A Wheel Jack Ely No
Nightmares Black Flag Yes
1984 Blood Simple Toots and the Maytals No
1986 The Cult: Live In Milan[lower-alpha 5] The Cult No Italian release
1987 Survival Game[lower-alpha 6] Kingsmen n/a Also in trailer
The Return of Sherlock Holmes Cast (uncredited bar band) n/a TV movie
1988 The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! Marching Owl Band[lower-alpha 7] Yes
Coupe de Ville Kingsmen, Young MC[lower-alpha 8] Yes
Love at Stake Kingsmen No
1989 Fright Night Part 2 Black Flag No
1992 Jennifer Eight Kingsmen No
Passed Away Kingsmen Yes
Dave Cast (Kevin Kline) No
1993 Wayne's World 2 Robert Plant Yes
1994 A Simple Twist of Fate Cast (party singalong) No
1995 Mr. Holland's Opus Cast (student band instrumental) No
Man of the House Kingsmen n/a
1996 Down Periscope Cast (Kelsey Grammer and others) n/a
1997 My Best Friend's Wedding Kingsmen No
1998 ABC - The Alphabetic Tribe[lower-alpha 9] Kingsmen, Sandpipers n/a Swiss release
2001 Say It Isn't So Kingsmen No
2002 La bande du drugstore[lower-alpha 10] Full Spirits Yes French release
24 Hour Party People John The Postman, Factory All Stars Yes[lower-alpha 11] UK release
2003 Old School Black Flag Yes
Coffee and Cigarettes Richard Berry, Iggy Pop Yes
2004 Friday Night Lights Cast (marching band instrumental) No
2005 Guy X Kingsmen n/a
2006 This Is England Toots and the Maytals Yes UK release
Bobby Cast (Demi Moore)[lower-alpha 12] No
2009 Capitalism: A Love Story Iggy Pop n/a
2010 Lemmy[lower-alpha 13] Motörhead n/a UK release
Knight and Day Kingsmen No
Tournée Nomads, Kingsmen Yes[lower-alpha 14] French release
2012 Best Possible Taste: The Kenny Everett Story[lower-alpha 15] Kingsmen n/a UK TV movie
2014 Desert Dancer Jack Ely No UK release
2018 A Futile and Stupid Gesture Kingsmen n/a

The Kingsmen version was also used in television commercials for Spaced Invaders (1990) but did not appear in the movie.

Movie Table Notes
  1. "Tijuana Blue Soundtrack (1972)". ringostrack.com. Ringostrack.
  2. Not on the 1973 OST album or the 1979 More American Graffiti album.
  3. The Kingsmen version is heard in the film. The John Belushi version is on the soundtrack album.
  4. Only included on the 2000 CD reissue. Not on the 1979 LP or 1993 CD reissue.
  5. The Cult: Live in Milan on IMDb
  6. Survival Game on IMDb
  7. In the film the USC Trojan Marching Band is shown but the Rice University MOB version is heard.
  8. The Kingsmen version occurs during the film. The Young MC house mix plays during the credits and samples versions by the Kingsmen, Richard Berry, the Rice University MOB, the Sandpipers, and Les Dantz & His Orchestra. Both versions are on the soundtrack album
  9. ABC – The Alphabetic Tribe on IMDb
  10. La bande du drugstore on IMDb
  11. Factory All Stars version only (with Ian Curtis).
  12. Imitation of 1969 Julie London version.
  13. Lemmy on IMDb
  14. Nomads version only.
  15. Best Possible Taste: The Kenny Everett Story on IMDb

Washington State Song

In 1985, Ross Shafer, host and a writer-performer of the late-night comedy series Almost Live! on the Seattle TV station KING, spearheaded an effort to have "Louie Louie" replace "Washington, My Home" by Helen Davis as Washington's official state song.[78] Picking up on this initially prankish effort, Whatcom County Councilman Craig Cole introduced Resolution No. 85-12 in the state legislature, citing the need for a "contemporary theme song that can be used to engender a sense of pride and community, and in the enhancement of tourism and economic development". His resolution also called for the creation of a new "Louie Louie County". While the House did not pass it, the Senate's Resolution 1985-37 declared April 12, 1985, "Louie Louie Day". A crowd of 4,000, estimated by press reports, convened at the state capitol that day for speeches, singalongs, and performances by the Wailers, the Kingsmen, and Paul Revere & the Raiders. Two days later, a Seattle event commemorated the occasion with the premiere performance of a new, Washington-centric version of the song written by composer Berry.[79][80] While the effort failed in the end, the song is still played, following "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch at all Seattle Mariners home games.

International Louie Louie Day

April 11 (Richard Berry's birthday) is celebrated as International Louie Louie Day[81][82][83] and is listed by Chase's Calendar of Events, the National Special Events Registry,[84] and other sources. This date was chosen as the most significant date for the observance of International Louie Louie Day from a list of "Louie Louie"-related dates occurring in April, including:

April 6, 1963 – The Kingsmen recorded the version that made "Louie Louie" famous.[18][19]

April 13, 1963 Paul Revere and the Raiders recorded their competing version in the same studio.[85]

April 1, 1985 – First annual WMMR Louie Louie Parade in Philadelphia (canceled in 1989 due to excessive rowdiness).[86][87][88]

April 12, 1985 – "Louie Louie Day" proclaimed by the state of Washington.[86]

April 14, 1985 – "Louie Louie Day" proclaimed by the mayor of Seattle.[89]

April 2, 1986 – "Louie Louie Day" proclaimed by the state of Oregon.[90]

April 10, 1998 – The Kingsmen won a historic legal case against Gusto Records/GML, regaining ownership and royalty rights to all their recordings.[91]

Support for International Louie Louie Day and other "Louie Louie"-related observances is provided by the Louie Louie Advocacy and Music Appreciation Society (LLAMAS)[92][93] and "Louie Louie" fans worldwide. Commemorations of International Louie Louie Day have included newspaper articles,[82] magazine stories,[81][83] and radio programs with discussions of the song's history and playlists of multiple "Louie Louie" versions.[94][95][96][97] In 2011, KFJC celebrated International Louie Louie Day with a reprise of its 1983 "Maximum Louie Louie" event, featuring multiple "Louie Louie" versions, new music by Richard Berry and appearances by musicians, DJs, and celebrities with "Louie Louie" connections.[98]


The City of Tacoma held a summer music and arts festival from 2003 to 2012 in July named LouieFest.[99] The event began in 2003 as the "1000 Guitars Festival" and featured a group performance of "Louie Louie" open to anyone with a guitar. The event was renamed LouieFest in 2004. Members of the Wailers, Kingsmen, Raiders, Sonics and other groups with "Louie Louie" associations regularly made appearances. The grand finale each year was the "Celebration of 1000 Guitars" mass performance of "Louie Louie" on the main stage.

Louie Louie Street Party

Peoria, Illinois has held an annual "Louie Louie" street parade and festival every year since 1988. The Children's Hospital of Illinois is the most recent charitable beneficiary.[100]

Louie Louie sculpture

A sculpture titled "Louie Louie, 2013" by Las Vegas-based artist Tim Bavington is displayed on the lobby wall of the Edith Green - Wendell Wyatt Federal Building in Portland, Oregon. The work is constructed of 80 colored glass and acrylic panels representing the waveforms of the song using Bavington's concept of sculpting sound waves. [101][102]

Recognition and rankings

Summary of "Louie Louie" rankings and recognition in major publications and surveys.

Source Poll/Survey Year Rank
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Hall of Fame Singles 2018 None[103]
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll 1995 None[104]
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Grammy Hall of Fame 1999 None[105]
National Public Radio The 300 Most Important American Records of the 20th Century 1999 None[106]
The Wire Magazine The 100 Most Important Records Ever Made 1992 None[107]
Mojo Magazine Ultimate Jukebox: The 100 Singles You Must Own 2003 #1[108]
Paste Magazine The 50 Best Garage Rock Songs of All Time 2014 #3[109]
Rolling Stone Magazine 40 Songs That Changed The World 2007 #5[110]
All Time Top 1000 Albums, Colin Larkin The All-Time Top 100 Singles 2000 #6[111]
VH1 100 Greatest Songs of Rock and Roll 2000 #11[112]
The Heart of Rock and Soul, Dave Marsh The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made 1989 #11[113]
Rolling Stone Magazine The 100 Best Singles of the Last 25 Years 1989 #18[114]
VH1 100 Greatest Dance Songs 2000 #27[115]
Mojo Magazine 100 Greatest Singles of All Time 1997 #51[116]
Rolling Stone Magazine The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time 2004 #54[117]
NEA and RIAA Songs of the Century 1999 #57[118]
Mojo Magazine Big Bangs: 100 Records That Changed The World 2007 # 70[119]
Pitchfork Magazine The 200 Best Songs of the 1960s 2006 #154[120]
NME Magazine The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time 2014 #157[121]
WCBS-FM Top 1001 Songs of the Century 2005 #184[122]


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