Kingsmen singer Jack Ely dead at 71

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Kingsmen singer Jack Ely dead at 71

Postby radiofan » Thu Apr 30, 2015 9:57 am

Kingsmen singer Jack Ely dead at 71

By David Greenwald | The Oregonian/OregonLive
on April 28, 2015 at 1:26 PM, updated April 29, 2015 at 10:45 AM

Jack Ely (bottom left)

Jack Ely, the former Portland guitarist and singer best known for the Kingsmen's 1960s hit "Louie, Louie," has died at age 71.

His son Sean Ely confirmed the death Tuesday to The Associated Press, saying the Kingsmen singer died at home in Redmond, Oregon, after a long battle with an undisclosed illness.

"Because of his religious beliefs, we're not even sure what (the illness) was," Sean Ely told the Associated Press.

In 1963, as the story goes, The Kingsmen recorded "Louie, Louie" in a studio at Northwest 13th Avenue and Burnside. Ely, the only band member who knew all the words to Richard Berry's calypso-meets-R&B song that day had just had his braces tightened and couldn't enunciate clearly. The producer moved the microphone away from him, capturing the music but muffling the words.

Ely's incomprehensible vocal track famously spawned an FBI investigation into whether the Portland-bred garage band violated federal obscenity laws with the lyrics of the hit, which was sweeping up the charts worldwide.

By the end of 1963, it reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 -- outpacing a rival recording from fellow Portland rock act Paul Revere and the Raiders. The Kingsmen's version remains the song's definitive take: Jack Ely had a lot to do with that.

"No one else in the band had the record, so I was supposed to show them how to it," he told the Bend Bulletin in 1987. He'd been listening to Seattle band Rockin' Robin Roberts and the Wailers' version, but apparently not carefully enough. "I didn't know the song that well and at rehearsal, I ended up showing them wrong. I unconsciously rearranged 'Louie Louie' at that moment."

"I stood there and yelled while the whole band was playing and when it was over, we hated it," he added at the time. "We thought it was a totally non-quality recording."

By the time it was a hit, a band squabble had left Ely out of the band -- drummer Lynn Easton wanted to be lead singer, too -- and though he played music the rest of his life, he never reached the heights of "Louie Louie" again.

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Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who couldn't hear the music.
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Re: Kingsmen singer Jack Ely dead at 71

Postby Tape Splicer » Thu Apr 30, 2015 1:59 pm

These are "the Kingsmen" songs I remember hearing as I grew up, listening to CFUN or KJR ... enjoy.

In The Valley Of The Jolly Green Giant;
Louie Louie;
Little Latin Lupe Lu;
Money (That;s What I Want);
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Re: Kingsmen singer Jack Ely dead at 71

Postby Tom Jeffries » Thu Apr 30, 2015 2:42 pm

"Louie Louie" is the soundtrack of my LIFE, pre Beatles.

I would go to parties in High School - and we'd play the song over and over again...and no, I had no clue what he was saying, and could care less.

The ultimate FEEL record, of the era.

Another signpost.

Thanks, Jack - you made a lot of people laugh, and dance and pretend to sing....a great legacy.

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Re: Kingsmen singer Jack Ely dead at 71

Postby jon » Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:53 pm

Nice to hear, in remembrance of Jack Ely, a Kingsmen song on Little Steven's Underground Garage (a SiriusXM channel) this afternoon: "Killer Joe", the group's last Billboard Hot 100 hit, from 1966. The group did a nice cover version of the great Rocky Fellers 1963 hit; the original version peaked at #16 on the Hot 100.
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