Archive for October, 2022

Louie Louie and the FBI

Sunday, October 30th, 2022

When the FBI raided president Trump’s residence in Florida, there were many people who called for the defunding of the Bureau. After the Black Lives Matter protests following the killing of George Floyd, there were similar calls for defunding the police. Perhaps instead of defunding law enforcement there could be more community oversight of these agencies. When crimes are committed, it helps to have someone to call, especially a group sworn to protect and serve.

Recently in California there was a bill introduced in the state legislature that would have eliminated cash bail and bail bonds. Thankfully that failed the vote, more lawmakers realized that now was not a good time to be soft on crime by letting criminals get released with no incentive to show up for court. Orange County Bail Bonds were firm supporters of the defeat of bill 242 which failed to pass, and the legislators who introduced  the bill will be leaving office so bail bonds will continue to be available to help the public.

While we don’t recommend defunding the FBI, there was a case in the mid Sixties that calls into question the efficiency of the Bureau. Anyone of a certain age will recall the song Louie Louie by the group The Kingsmen.

The song itself was written by a singer/songwriter named Richard Berry. He wrote the song in 1955 loosely based on a tune called El Loco Cha Cha, an Afro Cuban melody of the type that was influencing American popular music at the time. The story as it was written is a basic love story about a Jamaican sailor coming back to the island to see the girl he loves. The rhythm pattern is 1-2-3 1-2 1-2-3 1-2, which the Kingsmen kept, and is one of the most recognizable openings to any pop song ever recorded. Over time, Berry’s Caribbean tune became changed into the garage rock version that stands as the classic that it is today.

That the FBI became involved is due to the controversy regarding the lyrics. When the Kingsmen recorded the song, their lead singer Jack Ely had new braces in his mouth, and he also had to stand on his tiptoes with his head tilted back to sing into a microphone placed way above him. As a result, the lyrics were practically indistinguishable.

The slurred lyrics led to the rumor that they were “dirty”, depicting sex between the sailor and his girlfriend. Everywhere in America, teens gathered around folded pieces of paper that supposedly had “the real words”. This caused the song to be banned on many radio stations, and even caused the governor of Indiana to ban radio play as well as sales of the record.

Enter the FBI. Due to the outcry of several shocked parents who went so far as to write to then Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the Bureau launched an investigation that lasted over two years. The record was played at various speeds as well as backwards(!). The FBI interviewed Richard Berry, who wrote the song, members of the Kingsmen, Paul Revere and the Raiders (who also had some chart success with the song), and record company executives. Incredibly enough, the FBI never interviewed Jack Ely the guy who actually sang the lyrics in the first place. That and the fact that the Bureau took over two years to conclude that the lyrics were unintelligible and therefore could not be considered obscene, makes one question the methodology of the FBI.

The song Louie Louie is considered a classic, covered by many bands over the years as well as being mentioned in TV and movies. There are Louie Louie Days, parades fests, and street parties. All this from a slurred vocal of actually innocent lyrics written about a lonesome sailor missing his lover.