Portland City Center

Everybody sing! 'Louie Louie, oh no, me gotta go'

Everybody sing! 'Louie Louie, oh no, me gotta go' »Play Video
Photo by Shannon L. Cheesman, KATU.com.

PORTLAND, Ore. - "I, Charlie Hales, Mayor of Portland, Oregon, City of Roses, do hereby proclaim October 5th Louie Louie Day!"

That's the word that came from our mayor Thursday afternoon during a celebration that honored a local band and their classic hit.

It was 50 years ago that a group of young men who called themselves The Kingsmen walked into a recording studio in the 400 block of Southwest 13th Avenue and recorded their version of the Richard Berry song "Louie Louie."

The Kingsmen's rendition of the song became an instant hit and to this day is one of the most well-known versions of "Louie Louie" that's ever been recorded. And it's widely believed to have influenced rock 'n' roll in a big way.

The Kingsmen's 1963 "Louie Louie" single/Jerden Records. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.

"When the Kingsmen did this song, it became a hit across the country, as well as a hit around the world," said Terry Currier, President of the Oregon Music Hall of Fame, who was at Thursday's celebration. "Kids got into their garages and started bands a year before the Beatles even hit the airwaves here and it really started a whole rock 'n' roll revolution."

The fact that it all began right here in the Rose City is something Mayor Charlie Hales thinks we should all be proud of. So he threw a party on Thursday in front of the building where the recording studio once stood.

It was there that the mayor gave an official proclamation that a month from now - on October 5, 2013 - the city will have its very own Louie Louie Day.

The Kingsmen joined the mayor for the celebration and helped unveil a new plaque that will be placed on the downtown Portland building where music history was made. Voodoo Doughnut even got in on the fun by creating some special "Louie Louie" donuts for the occasion. And a marching band and cheerleaders from local high schools entertained the crowd.

And that famous song? Well, it's hard not to sing along, but do the lyrics lose you at some point? If so, you're not alone.

"It's hard to get somebody to recite all the words correctly, but everybody knows part of it," said Currier. "They can do the chorus - Louie, Louie - you know. But when it comes to the words, it's a little harder. That's why there was an FBI investigation back in 1963 because they couldn't decipher the words and they thought some dirty words might be in that song."

That FBI investigation into the lyrics of "Louie Louie" is an interesting footnote in music history. There is actually a 119-page FBI report on what was a four-month investigation. In the end, the FBI determined the song was not obscene and the Kingsmen's "Louie Louie" has been played around the world ever since.

If you'd like to hear The Kingsmen play their iconic song, they'll be performing at the 7th Annual Oregon Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Concert coming up on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. The event is being held at the Aladdin Theater and there will also be another well-known Portland band playing - Quarterflash. Ticket information