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The Kingsmen

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The Kingsmen is a 1960s band from Portland, Oregon, United States. They are best known for their 1963 recording of Richard Berry’s “Louie Louie”, which held the #2 spot on the Billboard charts for six weeks. The single has become an enduring classic.

When recorded the band members were Jack Ely (vocalist/rhythm guitar), Lynn Easton (drummer), Mike Mitchell (lead guitar), Don Gallucci (electric piano) and Bob Nordby (bass guitar). Ken Chase (Kingsmen manager and Portland radio station KISN music director) produced the recording session. Robert Lindahl (Northwestern Inc. recording studio owner) was the audio engineer.

“Louie Louie” was kept from the top spot on the charts in late 1963 and early 1964 by the Singing Nun and Bobby Vinton, who monopolized the #1 slot for four weeks apiece. The Kingsmen single reached #1 on the Cashbox chart and #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Additionally in the UK it reached #26 on the Record Retailer chart. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. The B-side of the single was an instrumental, “Haunted Castle”.

The band attracted nationwide attention when “Louie Louie” was banned by the governor of Indiana, Matthew E. Welsh, also attracting the attention of the FBI because of alleged indecent lyrics in their version of the song. The lyrics were, in fact, innocent, but Ely’s baffling enunciation permitted teenage fans and concerned parents alike to imagine the most scandalous obscenities. All of this attention only made the song more popular. In April 1966 “Louie Louie” was reissued and once again hit the music charts, reaching #65 on the Cashbox chart and #97 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

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