Portland City Center

City celebrates 50 years of 'Louie Louie'

City celebrates 50 years of 'Louie Louie'

PORTLAND, Ore. - The year was 1963.

Our nation mourned the loss of President John F. Kennedy, heard Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech and was introduced to a new soap opera called General Hospital.

It was also the year that a group of young men known as The Kingsmen walked into a studio at Southwest 13th and Burnside in downtown Portland and recorded their version of one of the world's most well-known songs - "Louie Louie."

Their rendition of the Richard Berry classic was an instant hit and quickly rose to #2 in the world. And five decades later, "Louie Louie" still delights audiences and gets folks to shake their groove thing.

"Louie Louie" is in over 200 feature films and television shows and is likely the most recorded song in history (there are over 1,600 versions on record). Even hard-core bands like Motorhead and Black Flag have covered it.

To honor the Kingsmen's blockbuster hit, Mayor Charlie Hales is planning to declare Oct. 5 Louie Louie Day here in Portland.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

There will also be a big party a month ahead of time, on Sept 5. A plaque will be dedicated that day, the city will shut down 411 S.W. 13th Avenue where the famous recording studio once stood and high school marching bands will parade through downtown playing the iconic song.

"This record was a seminal point in the music industry, not only in Portland in particular but worldwide after Wand records released it on a large scale," said Terry Currier, President of the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. "It transformed music and studio performances from that point on. Perhaps the first real underground pop song that was ever made, its influence can still be heard in the punk grunge scene of the past 30 years and today."