Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Jack Ely, of The Kingsmen

Jack Ely, the singer on the great 1963 Kingsmen song "Louie Louie," died on Tuesday, at 71.

I cannot count the number of conversations (sometimes, near-debates) in childhood--and into adulthood--with people I knew, regarding what they believed, and what I believed, the words of the song were. We were all wrong.

The New York Times obituary about Mr. Ely, by Sam Roberts (see link below), notes the following, about the song, and about Richard Berry, who wrote it (and originally recorded it, in 1957): "Mr. Berry’s words, with a first verse that begins, 'Fine little girl she wait for me/Me catch the ship for ’cross the sea,' are in fact completely benign. Whatever obscenities people thought they heard, the Kingsmen’s version hewed closely to the original — lyrically if not musically."

Here is the song--first, as recorded by the Kingsmen, and then, the version by Richard Berry (and The Pharaohs):