Kingsman Founding Member/"Louie Louie" Singer Jack Ely Dead

Posted by Billyjam, April 29, 2015 06:10am | Post a Comment

Jack Ely, who co-founded the Portland, OR rock & roll groupThe Kingsmen back in 1959, died yesterday at age 71 of an unspecified illness. The former Kingsmen member, who lived in his home state up until the time of his death, was most famous for being the main singer of the group's megahit (and widely covered) raw rock'n'roll classic "Louie Louie." The breakout hit single for the group which was a cover, written by Richard Berry six years earlier and covered by The Wailers two years previously, became a top ten single for four straight months in 1963 - both making the band famous and bringing them a federal investigation.

Due to the garage rock record's lo-fi quality - in particular Ely's poorly mic'ed and somewhat indecipherable muttered lyrics - the authorities at the time, under the lead of the FBI no less, feared the worst and believed Ely to be singing naughty words on the record and consequently instigated an investigation into "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen. Fast forward many weeks, much wasted tax payers dollars, and a 455-page report on the Kingsmen single and the Feds determined that Ely was simply singing unintelligibly. Over the years countless bands covered "Louie Louie" making it the most covered song in popular music history, leading to Bay Area radio station KFJC in the 80's doing an annual Louie Louie Marathon of playing on the air the seemingly endless list of cover versions of the song made most famous by the Kingsmen. Although Ely left the The Kingsmen, after a falling out, not too long after "Louie Louie's" chart success he seemed forever tied to the band's famous hit.  Soon after leaving he would go on and form The Courtmen (a not quite as popular rival group) who recorded "Louie Louie '66" and some time after that he would record the "Louie Louie" related single "Love That Louie" for the later group he formed Jack E. Lee and the Squires. After that he quit the music business to raise horses. Regarding the unspecified cause of death reportedly it is because of the singer's religious beliefs that the exact cause or illness, that he had suffered from for the past few years, is unknown.


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Jack Ely (1), The Kingsmen (2), Louie Louie (1), Kfjc (5)